The Lovely Bones (2009) Poster

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9/10
Not like most other films!
MilkaKuh1 May 2011
-The following will not reveal any spoilers above those presented in any trailer-

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!
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Pearls Before Swine
empty196926 July 2011
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.
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8/10
Jackson, the risk taker
M. J Arocena31 October 2010
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
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8/10
Good effort at extremely challenging adaptation
Larry-11515 December 2010
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.
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8/10
Wait.... hang on a minute!!!!
Mark Quinn23 February 2010
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.
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10/10
Heart-wrenching, uplifting, captivating & hauntingly beautiful
mike-pawlowski24 September 2011
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).

PROS

(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.

CONS

(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.
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10/10
This is a great, great, great movie.
lordjin30 April 2010
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 screen.

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.
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9/10
Brilliant, but Not For Everyone
mmmorgan27 April 2010
Warning: 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 made-for-TV melodrama.

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.
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3/10
a grand, sloppy folly for Peter Jackson, his writers
MisterWhiplash16 January 2010
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.
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3/10
An $80 Million Lifetime Movie
MPeluso1429 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This movie was a piece of sappy garbage. The nauteously overdone CGI heaven sequences bring the movie to a halt every time we are there. Jackson destroyed the few characters (and actors performances for that matter) who had potential to be interesting: Susan Sarandon, Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weiz. The movie is a cut and paste job of the book that tries to do too much with too many characters. Jackson switches point of view just enough to never allow us to connect to anyone in the film.

Peter, please go back to action movies. It is the only place where this much CGI can makeup for bad storytelling.
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2/10
Despite the solid efforts made by Rachel Weisz, Stanley Tucci and Saoirse Roan, they still can't stop Peter Jackson from driving this film off a CGI Cliff.,
demystifield4 February 2010
Peter Jackson's unhealthy obsession with CGI truly drives his film off a cliff in his poor adaptation of the novel "The Lovely Bones" Jackson forgoes the book's intelligence and intricate story and puts in an unhealthy obsession for the sensational that drives a wedged between his actors, who really are working with nothing and the viewer, who is left with a empty feeling after the film is over. The characters are nothing but objects for Jackson to manipulate in order to put in more CGI shots and their story is forfeited for a child like look into death, but with out the reality and complexity of the grieving process.

Rachel Weisz, who is one of the most gifted and versatile actresses working today is giving little to do while in the book, her character is the most complex of the entire novel. Despite this, Weisz does a great job, giving the movie more heart and complexity with the little that she's given to work with than what the film does for itself, making a small dent in the parade of mindless CGI that Jackson puts on screen. Mark Wahlberg faces the same problem, giving a good performance that has no support from the director. Susan Sarandon does as much as humanly possible by giving humanity to her striped down and degraded character, who in the book is much more than the comic relief that Jackson tries to puts on screen and Stanley Tucci manages to give a tight performance as the creepy neighbor despite Jackson's unhealthy obsession to make him the main character of the film. Tucci brings dignity and substance to this character, while Jackson tries to exploit him. Last and not least, Saoirse Ronan does wonders with her role, which also stripped bare from the novel. Her character in the book had a complex innocents that had many layers of conflict while in the film, she's basically held as a angel in Peter Jackson's mind. Jackson puts on rosy color glasses when he deals with the character of Susie and that's where he goes really wrong because he does not make her a real person, he makes her an unreal angel that was with out fault.

Peter Jackson not only hurts his own film but hurts the actors who made an effort to be faithful to the heart of the book as well, making this adaptation very painful to watch.
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1/10
A lovely mess.
centrumjuky31 December 2009
Director Peter Jackson's incoherent and ultimately pointless adaptation of the bestseller is just an intolerable mess from start to finish. Jackson manages to take a wonderful story about tragedy and grief and turn it to a carnival of incompetence and stupidity. Gone is the strong characterization that define each of the characters in the book and in its place is a sad spectacle of incompetence, with heavy handed CGI and bad scriptwriting that makes this film a real eye sore to sit through.

I don't blame any of the actors involved in the movie because you can see how badly this film was edited in post production, making certain characters look foolish with out any reason and certain scenes that don't make any sense what so ever. You can see that the actors are really trying to their best and for the most part, they are able to succeed but its manly due to their professionalism than what they are working with, which is not much. Stanley Tucci gives an ounce of humanity to his character but that's mostly because he's a great actor, not because of the role which he had to work with. His character is so badly written in this film that he comes more across as a cartoon bad guy than the monster that was in the book. Stanley Tucci manages to give the viewer glimpses of heavy psychoses with his character but he's left out there by himself with no support from his director or the script which fails him every step of the way. Rachel Weisz struggles hard with her role, which was short changed by the director in the editing room in post production because he could not handle the plot line that her character has. A plot line which gave the original book a sense of reality and made the reader look into themselves as human beings and question their own selves on how far their grief can go. Unfortunately Jackson proves that he's not a mature enough filmmaker to answer those questions and Weisz and the viewer are left with little to related to. Rachel Weisz does manage to convey her character's dilemma quite well despite Jackson's immaturity (Which of course is more about Weisz being a great actress than the material and director she is working with), and by doing this, Weisz manages to give the viewer a glimpse of how good this film could have been if you had a director who was mature enough to handle the realities that the book presented to its readers. Saoirse Roan is left with really nothing to do other than run wild in a computerize playground that is supposed to be limbo. She tries her best, she really does but one gets the sense that most of her dramatic scenes were left on the editing room floor during post production as well. We can't connect with this little girl and that's the biggest crime of all because she's the murder victim. The book give you a complete picture of who this little girl is and it give you a real human being to care for, too bad the script for the movie does not. Susan Sarandon is left with a shallow version of her character, who was quite no nonsense and soulful in the book but is reduced to becoming a sad and awkward comic relief device thanks to Jackson, who left almost all of her dramatic scenes with the family on the cutting room floor. Susan still makes her character soulful but again, that's because she's a great actress, not from any help from the director or the script. Mark Wahlberg struggles very hard as well with what he has to work with and he does make a great effort, unfortunately, his character comes across more befuddled than assuring and the heavy editing and lackluster script leaves him out to dried as well along with the rest of the cast in this movie.

No book can be faithfully adapted but they can at least have someone who care about its truthfulness to its core. Unfortunately," The Lovely Bones" does not have that and despite the game effort by all the actors involved, its the director who ultimately sabotages this movie with his unwillingness to face its hard truths and we are left with a film that is shallow to its core.
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6/10
A look into author Alice Sebold's psyche, but clouded by special effects
calvinnme19 April 2016
Warning: Spoilers
If the movie had been truer to the book I would have given it 8/10, but as it is, it just makes being dead seem super cool and Jackson injects too much CGI into a story that just doesn't need it. Plus, do you really think it would be heaven to look down on your loved ones and see what they are REALLY doing? Their true faces? I don't think that seeing their sins, big and little, would be comforting at all. Mom what are you doing with that detective??? BLECH! (That's in the book not in the movie). The story is that of Susie, a 14 year old girl, destined to be forever 14 when she is raped and murdered by a neighbor in 1973. She floats around, looking at events below throughout the film, until she finally enters into heaven, conversing with her killer/rapist's other victims.

To understand this story, overall, you have to have read Alice Sebold's autobiographical work "Lucky". Sebold was raped at the age of 18 when she was still a virgin by a total stranger on the last day of her freshman year while walking to her dorm late at night at Syracuse University. The rapist was an African American who admitted to her during the ordeal that he had raped before, but for some reason thought that this kind of behavior constituted a date. Did I mention that he beat Alice to a pulp? Sebold came from an intellectual family. Her father was a renowned figure in academia on the subject of Spanish literature. Her mother was a cross between Susie's mother and Susie's grandmother. Mom had briefly been an alcoholic and had periods of raving (the grandmother), but Alice also always sensed that her mother rather resented the burden that the 1950's had put on her - society pushed women into the role of wife and mother (Susie's mother). Like Sebold, the character of Susie has one sister.

I'm telling you all of this to show you that this work appears to be another albeit fictional work in which Sebold tries to deal with her own rape back in 1981. Her liberal intellectual roots have her painting the rapist in this story as an ordinary seeming white man that fit well into middle class society, when in fact her own rapist was a black career criminal, a serial rapist of any vulnerable woman he came across when it suited his mood, and with a long rap sheet of violent crimes before he raped Sebold. But Sebold's intellectual liberal roots have her feeling some "white guilt" in "Lucky" even as she assists the prosecution with convicting this animal.

Another complicating factor is that Alice Sebold's rapist - never mentioned by his right name in "Lucky" even though we display the name AND picture of convicted rapists in newspapers everyday - probably arranged to have her closest friend and college roommate raped by a criminal associate two years after Sebold's rape in retaliation for his well earned maximum sentence. Since the roommate would not cooperate with police and threw Sebold out of her life afterwards, nobody can know for sure. But things that the roommate's rapist said, mentioning Alice and her routine, and insisting on raping the roommate on Alice's bed, suggests that is what happened. Imagine what these two traumas did to Alice Sebold? What they did was send her into a ten year tailspin of self destruction, at the end of which she discovered that she had PTSD, got treatment and is supposedly "cured". But how could anybody ever be cured of such traumas? Some have even said that Sebold is in fact Susie, dead, lingering between this world and the next - the girl she was before all of this violence looking for the life that she had before rape. It's an interesting thought.

If you read "Lucky" you realize that Sebold even has a hard time coming to terms with the rage and desire for vengeance she must have had for her rapist. This is illustrated in "The Lovely Bones" when Susie's killer is never arrested or convicted by the authorities, not even violently avenged by her father or some other caring friend or family member. Instead he is killed by a falling icicle in a freak accident. A most passive death for a horrible criminal. It is like Sebold is trying to say that God makes things right in the end, when to me, God appeared to be otherwise occupied during both Susie's and Sebold's ordeal. Maybe suffering and injustice mean nothing at all.

I'd say I moderately recommend this filmed version of Sebold's excellent literary work, but I highly recommend you read first "Lucky" and then "The Lovely Bones" to get the most out of it.
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5/10
The Mixed Messege Screams Kill Them All And Let God Decide
Theo Robertson16 November 2012
Warning: Spoilers
This was a highly anticipated film on its release . Based upon the cult novel by Alice Sebold and directed by Peter Jackson it opened to very Luke warm reviews by the critics . Normally I don't care what critics say but since I was very short of money I decided to save myself the price of a cinema ticket and catch it for free. In the mean time a lot of time had passed before I caught it tonight and I don't know if the criticisms of the film adaptation of THE LOVELY BONES had prejudiced my own opinion but this is a highly offensive film and we all know why don't we ?

Roger Ebert summed it up perfectly when he called this film deplorable . The premise of the film centres around a 14 year old girl called Suzie who is raped and murdered by George Harvey . Jackson does his level best to make the inciting scene of the rape and murder as tense and as frightening as possible without causing offence . The irony is that as soon as Suzie reaches the afterlife any viewer with the vaguest notion of secularism will be very offended to think that a murdered 14 year old child will be enjoying them self in an afterlife beyond all human imagination in its beauty . Put it like this : If this was a film featuring a protagonist fighting Jihad and woke up to the afterlife seen here would you believe there wasn't an agenda behind it ? Of course I'm not for a second stating there is any spiritual/religious/political agenda behind the film but this is the totally confused unintentional message Jackson is giving out

It's a certainly a beautiful film from a technical viewpoint . Jackson is certainly influenced by the aesthetic beauty of the best Michael Powell movies and the cinematography is worthy of Jack Cardiff at his very best which is complemented by the visual capabilities of 21st century film making . All this is enhanced by the haunting score from Brian Eno . Unfortunately all this belongs in a different film entirely such as a film with an original screenplay featuring perhaps a doomed love affair, perhaps a film where someone remembers someone who they can never have

In short Peter Jackson is the completely wrong choice for director . A film featuring a victim of child murder should be gloomy and introspective made with a much smaller budget . It certainly wouldn't have had the critical anticipation that Jackson had brought but it certainly wouldn't have had people complaining that the message of this film screams that " Kill them all and let God decide . Dying has never been so much fun "
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1/10
Mawkish and full of holes
Film-Slave8 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
An attractive cast quickly deteriorates in this heavily visual film that forgot its story.

It's no secret that the protagonist is murdered, but the neighbor who commits the crime (it is revealed at the top of the film, no secret there, either) is a cartoon of creepiness. The only traits missing are flop sweat and incontinence. Tucci's character is no picture of normalcy.

Wahlberg and Weisz are wasted in this film. The actresses who portray their daughters do better, but the film fails them. The beautiful boyfriend is so carefully framed, that this should have been a TWILIGHT-type flick so tweens could worship him. And the actress whose folks oversee the sink-hole dump is too pretty to play a socially-disabled teen.

Then the chorus of characters in the "between world" are Stephen King quality spooks, complete with wooden delivery and mysterious statements which when questioned are followed by "you'll see" answers.

Questions about this film: (1) In a field adjacent to the school, why didn't anyone see preparation or demolition of the secret place? (2) Why was Wahlberg miscast in this role of an emotional wreck who is short-fused and obsessed? His celebrity has been built around characters who are cool, circumspect, smarter-than-average, and now they want us to believe he's slightly stupid? (3) When a safe is taken to be dumped into the sink-hole dump, why does he park so far away, and who built an antique floor safe that appears to weigh as much as a filing cabinet? (5) Why is Susan Sarandon in this film? It seems as if her character came from another movie and offers NOTHING to this script. She's overdressed, but can't operate a washing machine? This is failed farce at its worst. (6) Why isn't there ever resolution to this film, which deals in obviousness? Why get obtuse now?

I've read several reviews in which female viewers "cried" and gave high marks. Is that all it takes… emotional string-pulling? Film makers know exactly how to lead up to an emotional crescendo, how many "beats" to wait, and when to pull the trigger for tears.
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7/10
a lot of dream sequences
trashgang25 July 2011
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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4/10
Forget the book, this film is a disaster on its own terms
mdh31011 December 2009
Pretty to look at, beautiful at times even, but with all his distractions Jackson has somehow managed to take brutal and disturbing subject matter and leave me feeling nothing apart from vague amusement and disbelief that he actually went there.

I haven't read the book, and even I could tell he completely missed the point. This story, which seems like it should be about the slow disintegration of a family following an unimaginable tragedy, has been turned into a campy whodunnit where you know who dun it from the start.

Rather than concentrate on the relationships between the characters, he fails to connect the dots, jumping perspectives often enough to break any of those connections. It comes across as a set of disjointed episodes with overdone cgi in between rather than a coherent story. The jumps are so jarring at times (Oh look, mom is moving out. Oh look, she's come back again) I have to wonder if some of this is down to the editing and there was far more here in earlier cuts.

There's one particularly tone-deaf sequence where the grandmother (Susan Sarandon, clearly enjoying herself) swoops in and tries to "cheer everyone up". Fair enough there are people who would do that in this sort of situation, but it is so so overdone - overflowing the washer, setting the kitchen ablaze, all to a bouncy rock soundtrack - that I couldn't help thinking of Mrs Doubtfire. Completely off-color for something like this. I was struggling already but kind of gave up at this point, even if I did want to see how far he would go - and the ending is a doozy! After the luminous first half-hour, where I thought there was potential for a serious shattered innocence angle, it's a long sequence of "wait... really?" moments.

The actors try hard, including Wahlberg who I have trouble taking seriously after "The Happening", and I'm pretty sure THEY understood the real story here, but Jackson gives them very little to work with. Actors often say they don't like to watch their own work, because it's almost always disappointing to see a different story than the one you thought you were telling, and they would be well-advised to stay away from this one because Jackson not only changes the story - he barely tells a story at all.
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3/10
Visual overkill to mask a weak execution
rascal671 January 2010
I am an ardent admirer of Peter Jackson's 'Heavenly Creatures' and rate it #1 in my top 5 drama films of all time thus far. I was looking forward to seeing this film adaptation of Alice Sebold's novel—which I have not read—as it sounded like he was going back to his 'Heavenly Creature' roots with the story that was presented. I had read some disappointing reviews before seeing 'The Lovely Bones' so did not go in with much expectation but kind of hoping that the detractors may be wrong: unfortunately they were right.

Where to begin: 1/ I found the acting weak and forced. Mark Whalberg was miscast and was so obvious at playing emotional and serious rather than being the feeling, like much of the movie there was no finesse to his performance. Rachel Weisz had hardly much to do at all and her role seemed lost and neglected—but I would put this down to editing choices. Stanley Tucci and Saorise Ronan fared better, but they are better actors than Whalberg so that goes without saying. Susan Sarandon was just a gross caricature.

2/ Like Sarandon's performance, there was no subtlety to the presentation of the film. It's like Peter Jackson was too concerned with making a great looking technically impressive film which has overshadowed the human element of the story. Personally, I found some of the CGI effects second rate like something I would find in a television commercial: it just did not grab me and was surfeit.

3/ While it appears that much effort had gone into the production design with some meticulous detail, it looked overdone and so fake 70's the actors looked like they were playing dress up and acting like they were still in the 21st century. The supporting roles were nothing to write home about at all and were just plain embarrassing to watch in some scenes. 'Heavenly Creatures' had strong performances, from then largely unknown actors and this film had nothing exceptional to offer in the thespian stakes, yet had a big name cast.

4/ I was not connected or emotionally involved in the proceedings, due to the over-importance of the pyrotechnics on display and the screenplay was choppy and all over the place: too much forced fed sentiment. Maybe I missed something, but the style of the film did not mirror the substance and potential that was on offer and what could have been a moving and distressing experience ended up being distanced and flaccid.

A huge disappointment!
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1/10
Horrible, I want my money back
Packtramp26 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Oh my! This was a horrible movie. It has been a while since I have seen one this bad. The acting was fine, everyone did a good job on that end, but the cut scenes to the acid trip land of Susie Salmon's "Heaven" were a waste of time. She never did anything there that impacted the story line. At least in "What Dreams May Come" there was a point to it. So here are some highlights of lack of logic and frustration for me:- Watching Mark Wahlberg, who they couldn't hide his frame under the 70's shirts, get beat up by a wimpy high schooler was completely bogus! - The ending with the icicle causing the killer to trip and fall off a cliff was horrible, watching Mark beat the crap out of him and throw him off a cliff would have been much better. - The LSD trip scenes of heaven were just plain boring. If Susie could have actually done anything to help her family that would have been good. - Mark's character welcoming his wife back after however long she had wimped out on her family was pretty bogus. - Mark's daughter holding the book of the killer to see his mom and dad have some fairy tale greeting and not saying, "Look, I found her killer, and he almost got me and may try again...Oh hi mom!" was completely stupid. - Many more...

Good points (I could only come up with one): - I liked them not going into details of the murder, who needs to have their mind filled with junk like that. That was well done to give a somewhat tense scene without having to see the murder or even know if there was a sexual assault.
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1/10
It was like watching a bad train wreck....
dclover7217 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I had heard such wonderful things about the book and decided to read it...I could not put it down. The power of this story and the feeling of what lies in the hereafter and how people cope with death and the grieving process and what lies beyond was overwhelmingly powerful. I was extremely excited to watch the movie...what a disappointment. Truly the worst adaptation of a book that I have seen since they killed Flowers In The Attic. The best parts of the book are manipulated and regenerated so much that you do not even get the true meaning of what truly made this story memorable. Especially the key role that certain characters played that they did not even give the light of day!! What happened to the most important part that Ruth played??? The characters do not even get a chance to grow up for goodness sake!!! The whole point of the story is how the dead and the undead cope after wards! There are not enough bad things I can say about this movie.

TERRIBLE TERRIBLE TERRIBLE MOVIE!! My advice...read the book and just skip the movie...your own imagination can paint a better picture and you will come out of it with a much better and enlightening experience.
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1/10
Disrespects the Plot of the Book
cellos-and-sunshine18 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Peter Jackson did a HORRIBLE job with this movie. Just like all other book-to-movie adaptations, it was a TRAIN WRECK. There are several missing and/or out-of-order events that were crucial to the story, as well as some discrepancies from the book.

1. In the book, the mother leaves AFTER the dad gets the living daylights beat out of him in the cornfield, NOT before.

2. In the book, Ray and Ruth are Susie's same age, not older.

3. In the book, the mother and Detective Fenerman have an affair. THIS IS CRUCIAL to the rest of the story as it not only happens while Dad is in the hospital recovering from the cornfield incident, but it causes her to leave!

4. There is just way too much that happens in the book after the murder that is actually IMPORTANT to the story, and sadly left out.

5. In the book, Mom returns only when Dad is in the hospital after suffering a heart attack, and the children are MUCH older. Also, she and Lindsey do not automatically make nice with each other, the same holding true for her and her husband.

6. Nothing is done to show the developing relationship between Dad and Buckley in the time that has passed since the murder as it is in the book. The poor little boy just kind of...disappears. In fact, nothing is really done to show the progression of time at all.

7. As with Buckley, the stories of Ruth and Ray just kind of...disappear.

8. Where is Mrs. Singh? She is a critical character as Mom befriends her at some point in the book!

9. In the book, Mr. Harvey dumps the safe with Susie's body into the sinkhole RIGHT after the murder, NOT at the end when he is preparing to run away.

10. In the book, when Susie comes back to Earth near the end, her soul possesses Ruth's body and Ruth's soul goes up to heaven, where she is considered a hero. Susie in her entirety does not fall back down to Earth. Ray kisses Ruth's lips but it is Susie's soul who occupies the body.

11. In the book, Dad tells Lindsey to break into Mr. Harvey's house. She doesn't do it of her own accord.

12. In the book, Dad doesn't root through lists of serial killers, etc., to suggest Detective Fenerman to look through. His initial instinct is Mr. Harvey. Also, in the book, Ray is thoroughly investigated by the police as a suspect.

Peter Jackson seems to have, yet again, gone special-effects crazy and not too focused on a plot. Alice Sebold herself should have directed the movie, at least we would have seen some sort of visible plot.

Also, my recommendation to anyone wanting to watch a movie adaptation of a book - just read the book. Don't waste your time on the movie.

And my recommendation to directors who want to make a movie adaptation of a book - don't waste your time either. It seems that every movie adaptation of a book is brutally butchered, then left hanging in the Inbetween, just as Susie Salmon is in in The Lovely Bones.
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3/10
A Skeleton In Peter Jackson's Closet
I am ReGenerated22 February 2010
There is no way we can challenge Peter Jackson's creative and directorial abilities, however it is evident that even the greats can face an 'off-day'. The legendary touch that we saw in The Lord of the Rings series was sadly not present, as this in-depth tale was mishandled, juggled and dropped in a very unflattering manner - not what we expect from Mr Jackson and his team. The Lovely Bones is potentially a life changing story, but it is squeezed out poorly.

The story in itself is quite profound and disturbingly moving (the excellent writing ability of Alice Sebold), however the power is tragically lost amid the array of overly expanded scenes of Susie in the 'In-between'. The beautiful cinematography is stunning and creates an atmosphere, but the way in which it's fused together produces a disappointing patchwork. There are certainly some talents on display with Tucci truly creating a menacing presence, and Weisz's broken mother being entirely convincing. However, these roles are disparagingly lost in the cascade of drawn out and over-emphasised scenes of a CGI afterlife. Unfortunately, these bones are not so lovely.
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2/10
The film's lack of commitment to any singular theme renders the picture offensive rather than just boring
MovieAddict20163 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones is a colossally misguided failure. Based on the well-received 2002 novel by Alice Sebold, Jackson -- along with his Lord of the Rings cohorts, Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh -- has penned a meandering screenplay, made merely all the worse by uniformly awful performances, poor editing, and generally bad film-making.

Mark Wahlberg (who stepped in to replace Ryan Gosling prior to filming) is in Happening mode, which means he's doing that insincere, dopey nice-guy routine again that he's particularly bad at; Rachel Weisz disappears for half the movie, Susan Sarandon acts like she fell out of a Farrelly Brothers comedy, then also disappears for half the movie; and relative newcomer Saoirse Ronan is a bit too precocious for her own good. And Stanley Tucci, in the role of a twisted serial killer, alternates between horrific and morbidly humorous, as Jackson attempts to have us laugh at this guy's predicaments and then root for his demise. The whole movie doesn't have a clue what it wants to be, and because the thread of the story -- the brutal rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl -- is so deplorable, the film's lack of commitment to any singular theme or idea renders the picture offensive rather than just boring (which it certainly is as well).

Jackson doesn't like dialogue, as is clear from his recent roundtable discussion with fellow directors. That's fine. But it's hard not to assume his inflated ego is to blame for the movie's visual excesses -- maybe the sequences in heaven were poignant in the novel, but here they seem distracting and unnecessary, pulling us out of the main narrative (the human story, no less), which needed all the help it could get to begin with. Furthermore, for a director with such a renowned visual sense as Jackson, the special effects sequences are simply bad -- no more or less fantastical than a standard television commercial advertising anti-depression pills. Let's hope TinTin fares better.

For major studios, January is considered "dumping grounds" -- a time to toss aside the aborted Oscar contenders or latest Eddie Murphy comedy. Jackson's movie was originally set for release at the end of 2009, in time for the awards season, but was delayed a wider expansion after disastrous test screenings and subsequently scathing reviews. One of the film's final shots is of a character discarding an unwanted object into a big hole in the ground, burying it from existence -- it's hard not to see the irony.
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1/10
Man what a waste of my time!
HughJanus117 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This movie was horrible! There are so many things to say about it I almost don't know where to begin. First off let me just say that it was a very good book. I do like Peter Jackson and I thought the talent in the movie had the skills to be good. The problem, though is that Peter Jackson apparently not only lost a bunch of weight, but some of his brain must have leaked out too. He did a very, very poor job on this one. It was a story about young girls being raped and murdered yet he wanted us to feel happy about it? The only good scene was went the sister was snooping around the house and then the brief chase, but even then he screwed up! Here's this teenage girl running from a man who she knows for a fact now killed her sister and she just broke into his house and now when she gets home completely out of breath, she sees her mom and just says, "Nah I will just forget about this dude who might still be after me and I will stay quiet." It seems like forever b4 she eventually gives the book over to Susan Surandon and then the scene ends without us seeing her reaction. It was real bad. Speaking of Susan, I love her, but she was like a damn character out of some comedy with Seth Rogan or something. It was totally misplaced. Also the trailer for this film made it seem like the girl would help catch her killer and that is just not how things were. Then to top it off the bad guy dies in what is one of the absolute lamest deaths I have ever seen. Not good. DO NOT WATCH THIS MOVIE!!
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4/10
A very disappointing adaptation.
simonclong-591-55627630 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I'll start by saying I've read the book twice (just because I'm a PJ fan so wanted to know what he would be working on) and loved it. No, it's not brilliantly written and does veer off in places but I found it genuinely moving. So went to the film (London) with high hopes, loving both source material and director. Major disappointment.

MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD My main criticism is the family characters have all been severely short-changed (which is no fault of the cast who are all superb with what little they've been given). The Grandma (Susan Sarandon) is simply there for inappropriate comic effect; you get no sense whatsoever she helped pull the family back together. There's a montage of her screwing up the housework with a drink in her hand and cigarette dangling from her mouth but her character in the source material really drives the family along. Not here. In this version the Grandma is there to do the hoovering. I really feel for Sarandon.

Rachel Weisz fares even worse. She has absolutely nothing to work with as the mother and neither do the actors who play the Detective (Michael Imperioli) and Ray & Ruth who have hardly any characterisation (or screen time). From cast interviews on the red carpet it's clear dramatic family scenes were filmed but cut (here comes the 3 hr DVD edition) including the Mother's affair. Both Sarandon and Imperioli are both calling PJ out on it... watch that get more press as time goes on. PJ is simply too obsessed with the 'In-Between World' and it seems he sees the story as a thriller, following the murderer way too much. While it's fun to watch Stanley Tucci who's terrific, the down-side is you hardly care about the family towards the end. Mark Wahlberg is good (yes, really) but his role should be so much more powerful. It's a big mistake; those that have read the book know there's no emotional pay-off on the murder, it's all attached to the emotion of the family rebuilding itself. It's the film's fundamental flaw; it should be terribly moving but it's empty. The mother returns and they hug. That's it. Brilliant.

Visually, it's stunning and I do feel like I need to watch it again for the little visual clues in the 'In-Between World' here and there that Susie needs to spot in order to move on. There are also some great stand-out scenes where PJ shows off his technical skills (how Susie discovers she's been murdered is especially well done as is the tension when her sister is in the murderer's house). Saoirse is brilliant but the script just doesn't give her the powerful role she deserves - she's a better actress than the material PJ gives her.

To anyone who says the reduction in the role of the family is simply cutting away the worst of the book, they're wrong; it just doesn't work as a film either. It's a story about the family; that's what 'the lovely bones' are, the new bonds that form following Susie's death - it's even explained in the book (patronising as it it in places). And so it's the lovely bones themselves that are lacking in the film (including the relationship her sister develops which is one of the most moving story-lines of the book). I think people who see the film who aren't familiar with the book will be even more frustrated; they won't care about the family and will have no resolution on the murder.

Can't tell you how disappointed I am with PJ. How a man that made Heavenly Creatures allowed this cut of the film through I have no idea. His budgets are clearly going to his head; it's all style and absolutely no substance (and believe me I was desperately willing myself to love the film as I was watching).

Last thought; maybe the well publicised test-screenings resulted in the drama being cut? Either way it's fatal to this film (and any Oscar hopes).
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