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I just saw The Lovely Bones today & having let it set in I thought it
was a tremendous film!!! OK, I'll admit that Peter Jackson tried a
little too much to overpower the film with CGI but that does not take
anything away from the heart & emotion this film can generate.
Firstly the acting is absolutely superb with fine performances all round. Saoirse Ronan (from my homeland - Ireland) is a revelation as Susie Salmon. I have yet to see such a gifted piece of acting from such a young actress since Natalie Portman in Léon. She has been robbed of a nomination for a truly Oscar-worthy performance. Rachel Weisz, Mark Wahlberg, Susan Sarandon & of course Stanley Tucci (one of the finest supporting actors in modern times) are all convincing here too.
I believe that when the nay-sayers saw the level of CGI they lost interest & forgot what this film can really offer you at its core - tension, heartbreak, thrills & joy.
If you really make the effort to delve into this film, you will come out with a tear in your eye. If not, then I pity you for not being able to look past the CGI blunders & see a really emotional film.
-The following will not reveal any spoilers above those presented in
It is rather sad, to see how people are grabbing on to many of the former reviews and are continually bashing on the CGI use in this, in my opinion, hauntingly beautiful movie.
If one would actually watch this movie without reading any reviews at all, without having an opinion about a movie they are about to watch before even having seen it for themselves and just take it for what is presented, I strongly believe there would be much more positive opinions about it.
And to mention this before anything else is said: I do not believe that the movie is too CGI crowded since the scenes at hand are meant to be unearthly and even a little mystical at that! I am not a very emotional person, I haven't even been able to really feel sad when others around me were already sobbing. But going into this movie and just letting it do its magic, it actually touched me deeply and made me think about it!
Sure - there are a few things that might have been done differently, probably even quite a bit better. But the all-in-all feel this movie leaves the viewer with is incredible. The bizarre but at the same time beautiful world of the in-between, the pain of the family members over the horrible loss and their unique ways of, not necessarily dealing, but rather living with it, even the sick mind behind the murder - it all works together in creating that viewing experience that is deeply touching through its countless layers.
The acting of pretty much each individual actor is already quite impressive, but as the characters interact, one can actually feel the emotional bonds and understandings, as well as the tension or even hatred between them.
All in all I can only urge anyone who loves movies that go beyond that typical mirror of merely entertaining and uninspired filmmaking to watch this gem. Certainly not everyone will enjoy or appreciate it as much as I did, but at least give it the chance it deserves without going into it, already looking for those 'evil CGI' parts and at the very least you will have your own opinion about it afterward and not the one of some guys that merely told you the same thing they only heard from someone else ;)
I hope you have a great viewing experience!
I vaunt myself of being an independent thinker and yet I was taken by the atrocious reviews "The Lovely Bones" got. Rogert Ebert called it "deplorable" I didn't go to see it when it first came out. Shame on me! The risks Peter Jackson took, a thoroughly established filmmaker, should be applauded. True, it's not going to be everybody's cup of tea but then, what is? I was taken by surprise, a film of unbearable emotional suspense breaking every imaginable rule. We're far too used to have stories in which everything is neatly tied up by the end, so we can go back home with a fictitious peace of mind. In "The Lovely Bones" we know who the monster is from the time the monstrosity is committed but we're only spectators unable to do anything about it and that frustration may have turn part of the audience and most of the critics away. True the CGI of the "in between" is, sometimes, too much but the film as a whole is a real experience. Saorise Ronan is marvelous, so are Rachel Weitz and Mark Whalberg. Stanley Tucci was deservedly nominated for an Oscar and Susan Sarandon, another risk taker, plays the emotional constipated grandmother with great courage. Look at the exhaustion on her face as she takes care of the family, drained without betraying the arid nature of the character. As the film ended I stayed in silence for the longest time, embedded in the sadness, clinging to the hope and mystified by the massacre the critics perpetrated in this original and highly recommendable film
This movie shouldn't be my cup of tea. I'm pretty cynical and my
favourite film genres are sci-fi and horror in that order. However,
this film blew me away.
I don't understand all of the negative reviews concentrating on the CGI. It's supposed to be depicting an other-worldly realm between earth and heaven - what do you expect / want to see if you go to Heaven, grim city streets with alleys full of garbage and low-lifes? I found the imagery to be exactly what I would hope from heaven - endless possibilities bounded only by imagination - and it delivered that feeling.
As for the plot and the acting, I thought it was first-rate from start to finish.
If you still have a soul in this cynical world then I'm sure you'll like it - don't listen to the miserable horde.
I'd like to preface my review with a comment about the negativity
circulating around here about this movie. I don't think it's any
coincidence that some of these self-appointed "film-making experts" who
have nothing remotely positive to say about Jackson's effort cannot
formulate complete sentences. It's not surprising at all that someone
obsessed with the wetness of a prop in one scene and its dryness in the
next lacks the faculty and capacity to appreciate the many merits of
this film. It's ridiculous to knit-pick on 'unrealistic' depictions of
this aspect of day to day life or that aspect. If you want a realistic
depiction of day to day life, observe the world around you, not a movie
The Lovely Bones is being unfairly hammered as maudlin drivel. Some of the concepts and visuals are on the representational side, but if you take this film as a strange amalgam of a murder/suspense thriller and a fantasy in the vein of a children's book, it all works perfectly. The emotional outpouring is portrayed very well by all the players involved. None of it seemed forced. I became emotionally invested early on and the overall impact of this work struck a chord in me that resonated deeply.
More than anything else, this film is unique. Jackson takes many chances when one considers all the traditionally accepted conventions of film making, but unless you are one of those self-absorbed, self-important film student types who endlessly struggle with the "rules of making good films," you'll get something out of this.
The use of CGI was adventurous to be sure, but if one views this piece as an interpretation of life, love, and death through a fantastical lens, then the effects remain harmonious to the telling of the story. More, the CGI in this case describes 'world's unseen,' metaphysical possibilities existing simultaneously without the bounds of physical space and time. A welcome departure from space ships and crumbling cities. Some of the nastiest complaints about the CGI are coming from people who probably have no problem with giant robots that transform into cars and trucks.
Acceptance of a fictional story, the suspension of disbelief, these events occur in the relationship between a movie and its viewer completely apart from all the rules of pacing, subtext, and all the rigid pigeonholes that don't really apply to the creative process anyway. I did not find the Lovely Bones to be maudlin, and I am a pretty jaded movie-viewer.
In navigating the torrent of negativity to which this movie has been
subjected, one thing to keep in mind is that it's an adaptation of a
very widely read and popular book.
The book itself had a rather sunny disposition, which is ironic as it often was somewhat grislier in detail than the movie. That's because events can be described in words in a grisly way but still be part of an optimistic universe when you are reading -- it works. That doesn't quite happen when you actually see things with your eyes, film is much more literal (strange to say) that literature.
Considering the subject matter, the murder of a young girl, it's a bit unfair to go to the movie and expect to see the book come to life on the screen.
The problem in making the movie, as in any adaptation of magical realism concerning dark subjects, is how to capture the magic without having it jar too much with the realism. That was extremely difficult to do here considering how grim the subject is. So when Jackson uses special effects to invoke heaven, people tend to completely flip out, without really offering their own alternative about how that "should" have been done.
All this adds up to a book that perhaps shouldn't have been adapted for the screen at all. That said, I think the movie is quite a fine one, especially because of the magnificent performances of the two leads, Ronan and Tucci. Thanks to the sweet-faced and deeply affecting Ronan, you'll never forget Susie Salmon. The music is also just fantastic, not surprising as Brian Eno did it -- it's very disappointing that the soundtrack is not available, as it's beautiful and haunting.
I'd suggest seeing it and just let yourself decide if it's a worthwhile experience or not. I found it to be a very good try at adapting a book that by its nature is extremely hard to film. Actually the best way to go at it would be to watch the movie, then read the book, then try to figure out for yourself how you would have done it differently. I suspect that you'll gain a new appreciation for Jackson's movie if you do that.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Based on the thorough thrashing this movie has received from other
reviewers, I came with few expectations. Movies based on novels are,
after all, often difficult to put together in a way that is satisfying
to readers yet visually engaging. On this note I must disagree with the
negative reviews and nay-sayers: Jackson has succeeded in both stunning
me visually (hard to do, as I'm an artist and therefore picky) and
thoroughly tugging my heartstrings. I found myself in tears during
easily one third of the movie. Although I am an emotional person, I
strongly disagree that The Lovely Bones bears much resemblance to a
I gave it a 9/10 because it is not perfect. There are a few elements that could have been better developed, such as the relationship that grows between Susie's younger brother Buckley and their bereaved father. However, Jackson chose to focus almost completely on Susie's dilemma in the afterlife as she watches her family grieve and her killer become maddeningly arrogant in his ability to duck and cover.
It is this reviewer's opinion that if you came to The Lovely Bones expecting a gruesome rape scene along the lines of A Time to Kill, you were disappointed. (Jackson expressed dismay that his viewers would even WANT to witness a 14-year-old girl being raped and murdered, stating that he had no desire to portray such and never will.) This movie will not appeal to males in general, particularly under the age of twenty-five, for what should be obvious reasons. It is about a young girl whose life was stolen from her. She therefore has a young girl's feelings, hopes, and fantasies. If you can't relate to those emotions, then you probably won't like this movie. If you can't be touched by the powerful imagery the CGI in the movie provides, you probably won't like this movie. There are straightforward, A to Z movies that tell their stories step-by-step from beginning to end (plot-driven), and then there are movies that weave a tale around the emotions and struggles of their characters (character-driven). This movie is one of the latter, and if you don't like that kind, then you probably won't enjoy it. Furthermore, a character-driven tale based on a novel in which every character receives as much screen time as it did page time ends up becoming epic in length. I marathon-read the book in one day. How long does a movie based on it need to be in order to accurately establish the core plot?
In summary, if you can allow Jackson's special effects to blow you away, as was intended, and if you can approach it with an open heart, then you're in for a real treat in The Lovely Bones. It was elegantly done and very entertaining -- to the right person.
I'm not sure how so much could go wrong on this film. It seemed like a
pretty sure thing: a book that has been very widely acclaimed and read
as a work of sad life-and-death meditation from a 14 year old girl
looking down or somehow from the "in-between", a kind of purgatory,
after being raped and murdered, on her family and killer. It seems like
the stuff that could make for some harrowing dramatic material... or,
possibly, a sappy story. It turns out Jackson takes the latter route,
but there's more than that wrong here. It's a giant miscalculation that
has a few moments of real impact and where the performances match up
with the material.
Maybe it's just a general attitude that Jackson and his writers, wife Fran Walsh and Philippa Bowens, take from the book. What might have been poignant observations, for example, from the girl Suzie Salmon (like the fish) becomes a series of really jagged narration in the film that is a) poorly written, b) in a continuously ineffective and/or annoying tone from Saoirse Ronan (who is not bad in the film, by the way, when the material requires it), and c) it's redundant. We see her sights in this in-between world, moving about and in quick motions without consistency, though as with Avatar one might say at least it's "pretty", and her descriptions are at best unnecessary and at worst just stupid. It's some of the worst use of narration last year (compare it to The Informant! and see how much of a drop-off it is).
But narration is just one thing. Another is a lack of focus in the story, and actually getting to really care about any one of the living characters. It's not really the actors fault, as Wahlberg, Weisz and Imperioli do what they can in their roles (Wahlberg especially, in spite of everything, throws himself into the devastated father well). When it comes time for us to really get into the emotional grit and horror of this situation, of how horrible it really is, it's actually glossed over by Suzie's situation up in the in-between. There isn't a solid 'conflict' about who the killer is since it's revealed in the first few minutes of the film. On top of this the logic on Stanley Tucci's character is all-too obvious - it's a perfectly creepy performance, but a little subtlety might have helped. And then there's the lush grandmother played by Susan Sarandon that is used for very ill-timed and unfunny comic relief midway through the movie, after which she's pushed aside to a reactionary role.
And yet I didn't have as big a problem like some critics have had, which is with the in-between itself and its visual scheme. While it's not as imaginative as Jackson seems to think it is, it does reflect, more or less, what a 14 year old girl's emotional state would be in an afterlife world. It's more-so a problem when Jackson deals with balancing this fantasy afterworld with the real one, and the rules of how Suzie reaches out to those is never firmly established (the one girl she brushes against running down the street is one thing, her parents and sister are another). It's not so much the sights but, again, a mood and attitude that Jackson botches: what is with this Asian girl that accompanies Suzie? It's explained, to be sure, as are the other victims of Tucci's child killer, but the attachment she has with her previous life and family is screwy, it becomes muddled and unsatisfying.
I would almost stop short... no, I would just about claim that this is close to being the kind of cloying, sappy crap that one would usually find its way onto Lifetime, where struggles are put to melodramatic limits, and by the end every plot strand, no matter how unlikely, is resolved (one of those, involving Rachel Weisz's character, is just ridiculous in its timing). And yet for all of the story and character problems, for all the clunky dialog, Jackson has a few moments where he can let his actors have room to breathe. Chief of these are scenes involving suspense, when Suzie is in the lair of the man who will kill her, which is a gradual scene of weird intensity, and then later a scene where Tucci comes into his house while Suzie's sister is snooping around. Little glimmers of the kind of filmmaker one saw from fifteen years ago on another movie about teenage girls and the fragility of life and death and love, Heavenly Creatures, in such real dramatic clarity and power. But that's all really.
The Lovely Bones has so much that could go right with it that it's most disappointing how wrong it goes. It takes someone with as much talent and passion as Jackson to screw up on this level. He and his writers have not made an exactly boring movie, but it could very well be for some in the audience. I found myself shaking my head and frowning at what I saw, a watered down vision of reconciling grief and loss, and at best a mixed-bag of a story surrounding a not-whodunit about a child killer. Some may be moved, and more power to them. I couldn't wait for this wishy-washy journey to end.
A very unconventional movie that crosses many genres
(murder/suspense/thriller/drama/fantasy), defies normal expectations
and is an intense emotional experience. Right from the outset you are
informed of when the lead character will be murdered and who her killer
is but you are still kept on the edge of your seat and surprised by
later revelations. The story dovetails between reality (before and
after the murder) and a surreal afterlife realm in between Heaven and
Earth. Despite the tragic, heart-wrenching and dark subject matter, the
film is uplifting, captivating and hauntingly beautiful throughout. As
the credits rolled, I ran through a gamut of emotion and found aspects
of the film resonated with me long after.
It is difficult to conceive as to why this movie was critically panned. I can only surmise that either the story didn't follow the source material closely (I have not read the book) or viewers didn't appreciate the story being told from the perspective of a 13 year old girl or critics were just being spiteful towards a successful director (Directed by Peter Jackson and produced by Steven Spielberg).
(a) Original, imaginative, creative story / screenplay. (b) Authentic, well-drawn, endearing characters. (c) Thrilling & entertaining from start to finish. (d) A visual masterpiece - both from a cinematic perspective and a CGI/special effects perspective. Definitely warrants viewing in HD (Blu-Ray). (e) Superlative lead actors: Saoirse Ronan, Stanley Tucci. (f) Solid supporting actors: Susan Sarandon, Rachel Weisz, Mark Wahlberg. (g) Subtle but powerful soundtrack. (h) Thematically rich and filled with symbolism & metaphors.
(a) Childhood romantic relationships seem forced and only marginally believable. (b) Film appears to be heavily edited due to the long running time. Certain characters, scenes, and threads could have been fleshed out more. (c) The clairvoyant girl (Ruth) was a bit cliché & one-dimension. (d) Adequate resolution of killer's fate but not deeply satisfying.
Although this isn't really a horror for me still it's classified under horror. I can understand that some people will find it gruesome due the subject but I must say that it had no drip of red stuff in it. Not that that is important, just look at Texas Chainsaw or Halloween, they were bloodless too. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed this creepy flick. It reminded me a lot of The Loved Ones somehow, it must be the use of slow motion and the score. On the other hand it also reminded me of Heavenly Creatures by the way they used the dream sequences. It's a special flick coming from the hand of Peter Jackson. Knowing him for splatter and gore in his earlier days this could be a let down for some but I really liked it the way it was shot and the use of CGI didn't bother me at all. Not for everyone but if you can stand weird flicks than this won't be a problem for you.
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