20 February 2011

Movies: The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0380510/

Plot: Young girl is violently murdered, she watches from 'between' her earthly life and the afterlife, mulling over her memories and the current goings-on with her family and wanting retribution against her killer.
From director Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings and other stuff) and executive producer Steven Spielberg.
Cast: Rachel Weisz and Marky-Mark Wahlberg as the parents; Stanley Tucci as creepy murderer dude; Susan Sarandon as eccentric grandma; and Saoirse Ronan as Susie the protagonist victim.

This flick was good in some ways, lacking in some ways, and a couple times rather irritating. Which left me liking it on many levels but still having issues with it.
The depiction of the 'between' place reminded me a lot of the way "What Dreams May Come" handled Robin Williams's heaven visually. So much so that at times it intruded on the film for me. Jackson didn't innovate much visually in comparison. Despite that, however, it does have its breathtaking moments, sometimes in little details, other times in your face. So it is a mixed grade on the visuals - stunning at times but seemingly recycled at others.

Overall the cast did fine in their roles, Wahlberg really delivered in his role. Weisz is a little less present as a character but she's always a good watch even if she's just icing on the cake - very lickable icing. Sarandon didn't have to do anything she hasn't done before. Tucci delivers on his creepy performance, though at times it was a little too cartoon 'mustache twirling with evil nyah-nyah-nyah laughter' sinister. Probably less his fault, Tucci has always delivered nuance well in past roles so I'm guessing he was directed. Young Saoirse Ronan did well in her role and has potential for a good career ahead of her, heck she already had an Oscar nod. Plus points for the main cast and delivering in the roles they were given. The rest of the cast were there to support the supporting cast and pop up from time to time to move story.

Story: Had tons of potential and, in the end, was a little better than the sum of its parts. However some of the storytelling ended up problematic. Almost too much time was spent at the outset of the movie to establish this perfect little girl for the audience to love her before she is murdered. The voiceover narration did get irritating at times. I'm sure some of the repetitiveness had reasons, but it got clumsily blunt at times. And the way that the father and sister 'figured' out the murderer is beyond me. We as the viewers are shown right away who the murderer is, so it's no revelation to us. I guess it's supposed to be that "Susie" was able to push her family to the conclusion from beyond the grave or something - but it is so ham-handedly delivered it detracted from the movie. And the conclusion of the flick -- it disappointed me but I understand why they did it. Audiences generally don't like loose ends so the ending had to be changed to tie it up for them.
Overall the story starts out rather coherent and tight, but then starts meandering about tossing characters in and out of the story. I suppose the argument could be made that 'after death' Susie only noticed them when they had impact on events and that explains why they may suddenly appear at the forefront of the story telling before disappearing. The counter argument could be that's a cop-out to explain there really isn't much significance to these people except as a way to push the story to the next scene.

Despite issues I had with the movie and my overall tone here, it was good enough to be worth watching once sometime for mindless entertainment value. There isn't much mystery to figure out, so just sit back and watch the story unfold for you. It is best to not overthink it. Probably more enjoyable that way. Possibly too sappy for the action/thriller/mystery type of movie lover. Don't expect to be challenged mentally or emotionally, unless some dead girl having her first kiss after she's dead means something. Just be glad they didn't do the first she had in the book. No I didn't read the book, I just know what was different by reading about it.
As far as being a Peter Jackson/Spielberg flick, when compared to their earlier work, lands fully on "Meh".
And, as mentioned before, "What Dreams May Come" handled this visual style of afterlife fantasy drama before, and in some ways a little better, and has a good story to tell. It is definitely a movie worth checking out sometime too.

(original post 21 May 2010)

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