45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
I'm a fan of the book this movie is based on, and although Peter Jackson took some liberties with the story, the result was an emotional and visually stunning film. "The Lovely Bones" tells the story of Suzie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan), a 14-year-old girl who is murdered by a neighborhood predator (Stanley Tucci). As the Salmon family copes with their tragedy, Susie's spirit hovers in the "in-between" that exists between heaven and Earth. Unable to let go of her previous life, Susie keeps a watchful eye on her family and her murderer, hoping that justice will ultimately be served and that she and her loved ones can finally move on.
I appreciated that the film didn't show Susie's violent murder on screen, which would have been extremely disturbing. The film does a fantastic job of portraying Susie in her in-between world, which is beautiful to watch. I wish Susan Sarandon was given more screen time, because she is hilarious in her role as the drunk grandmother. Tucci gives a terrifying portrayal of a child killer, and Ronan's performance as Susie is very understated and sincere.
Overall, I enjoyed the movie very much.
30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on April 22, 2010
I long ago realized critics are like wild animals feasting on a carcass. Once one tears away at the flesh and finds something to feast on, more swarm in and work their jaws. Truly, I cannot fathom what led so many critics to pan this film.
Is it the book? No. It is its own work and every bit as entertaining and engrossing. Every element of the film drew me in; it was paradox of sorts, as real as it was surreal. I found myself cringing at one moment and tearing up at another. I never noticed the acting because I believed the characters to be real; the movie brought to life the 70's in a way few have for me. Now, an hour after I finished watching it, I find myself wanting to re-visit the film, this time paying more attention to the craft of the thing.
Years ago, when I was young with small children, I lost my husband to a sudden, violent death in a plane crash. I understand the spiritual connection that lingers. I imagined many times what the transition might have been like for him as he left behind those he loved. I still at times catch my breath as I think of him and wonder if he still sees us and remembers. Perhaps that is the reason I love this film: it is part thriller, part exploration of death. Its poetic and haunting handling of loss carried me along and will long stay with me.
54 of 63 people found the following review helpful
The Lovely Bones combines very good acting, suspense, drama and even thriller elements to make a good movie about a young girl who dies--and then has quite a few experiences--after she passes away! The animation was rather well done and the choreography works very well; the cinematography is particularly good as well. The script was also quite good; but I would say that the plot moves along a bit too slow; they could have edited this down by ten or fifteen minutes to make the plot tighter.
When the action starts, we quickly meet 14 year old Susie Salmon, (Saoirse Ronan), who lives with her parents Abigail and Jack (Rachel Weisz and Mark Wahlberg) and her siblings in a small Pennsylvania town in the early 70s. Susie is a happy child; and she has quite a crush on a young guy at her high school, Ray (Reece Ritchie).
However, things don't go well for Susie and her family. Unbeknownst to them there's a neighbor, George Harvey (brilliantly portrayed by Stanley Tucci) who is quite insane; he loves to lure both young girls and teenage girls into situations in which he can kill them and get away with the crime. Unfortunately, George concocts an elaborate plan to murder Susie and he succeeds.
Of course, we are left waiting to discover how--or even if--George will ever be discovered to be Susie's killer and then brought to justice. Moreover, we see the devastating effects Susie's murder has on the remaining members of her family. In addition, there's an excellent fantasy theme running through the film; we see Susie existing in a beautiful world all her own which isn't quite the real world anymore but not quite all the way into heaven, either. Susie wants desperately to use her mind to send signals to her dad and others to guide them to discover that George is guilty and that he must be brought to justice. However, this may or may nor happen.
In addition, there are other events that go on in this film that I won't give away here. I don't want to spoil it for you! I will say that you can look for an excellent performance by Susan Sarandon as "Grandma Lynn," Abigail Salmon's mother; and Nikki SooHoo was perfectly cast as Holly.
Hopefully when this comes out on DVD there will be a "making of" featurette and a commentary with director Peter Jackson.
The Lovely Bones may not have been the most thoughtful, intellectual movie of the year; but I found it to be genuinely entertaining and that's very good. I recommend this film for anyone interested in crime drama as well as fantasy films; and fans of the actors in the film would do well to see this in theaters or add this to their collections when it comes out on DVD.
57 of 67 people found the following review helpful
on January 22, 2010
I never read the novel, so that might be the reason I'm not as critical as most when it comes to The Lovely Bones. Peter Jackson as many critics have now said, may not have been the perfect fit for this movie. He is a wonderful visual director, but his vision of the in-between feels out oddly out of place. The CGI is well done and quite beautiful, but it did nothing more than distract me from the characters that I was beginning to care about. Thankfully these sequences were just short enough to not ruin the experience. The acting was pretty solid. Mark Wahlberg is often hit or miss, but he was suprisingly believable here. Susan Sarandon provided some offbeat humor and Rachel Weisz was decent, even though her role was thinly written. The two standouts were Saorise Ronan and Stanley Tucci. I see a big career in the future for this young actress. There is something about her that grabs and holds your attention. Stanley Tucci was creepy to the core, though I find it hard to believe that anyone would think he was normal. The way he looked and interacted with people should have sent up major red flags. There were two scenes of suspense involving his character that were well executed. The music hit the right emotional notes when needed and the story itself proved horrific enough to make a strong impact on me.
The Lovely Bones is getting bashed way too heavily by most critics. I know it has its share a flaws, but the fact that I was thinking about the film all the way home from the theater shows the true power it possesses if you go in with an open mind.
3 and 1/2 out of 5 stars
39 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on March 25, 2010
Some drama films are the kind that you feel emotional resonance for the characters, feel mildly engaged by the plot, think about it for a few seconds after leaving the theater, get into your car, get pissed off at a stupid driver, and quickly move back into your own life. The Lovely Bones isn't that kind of movie.
Director Peter Jackson, of Lord of the Rings and King Kong fame, doesn't seem like the most obvious choice to direct the adaptation of the seemingly untouchable Alice Sebold novel, but he does his best, by staying close to the source material, but occasionally taking things out here and there. He also brings alot of ah-mazing CGI shots that are so gorgeous, they may be worth the price of admission alone, and I doubt we would've had that type of a movie if anybody else had directed it. However, you get the feeling that Jackson paid too much attention to the CGI aspect, while he could've dealt with the center plot issue with more directorial sensitivity, mocking the same way the book was written, and that's what stops this from being a perfect movie.
The plot centers around Susie Salmon (played by Saoirse Ronan), a 14-year-old girl who is raped and murdered in 1973. Ronan was absolutely perfect in this role. She showed promise in the 2007 film Atonement, where she also played a terrified youth who is dealing with an unbelievable situation. In the film, Susie is watching over her family, the boy she was in love with, and her killer -- from her own personal heaven.
Stanley Tucci nails his role, playing the demented serial killer Mr. Harvey. He gives a particularly chilling, and uncannily believable performance, showing more versatility with every film he makes, you can tell that he really got lost in this role, because his part isn't one of those where you find yourself wondering what the actor has previously starred in -- you see his character, and he does a damn fine job at it.
Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz and Susan Sarandon play Susie's family, and each of those roles require the actor to display quite alot of emotion, grieving her loss, and they all do terrific work, causing you to feel the extreme remorse that their characters do, and I really don't know if better actors could have been selected to play the respective parts.
Nikki SooHoo plays Holly, a girl who Susie meets in heaven, another victim of Mr. Harvey. Her role is particularly memorable, serving as something of a reassuring voice to the Ronan's character, and I see her doing great things in her future, because, while being an unknown actress, she shows just as much talent as the other actors in this all-star cast.
The core of this movie, however, the reason to go and see it in a packed theatre, doesn't lie in its acting, or the writing, or even the direction. It lies in the story. We've all wondered what happens to us after we die. The Lovely Bones suggests that we go to a world that we think is perfect, but we're still haunted by the things that troubled us in our lives. And while the movie leaves you heartbroken, wanting to spend every day you have on this earth as your last, it leaves you pondering your own life, the significance of it, how you'll be remembered. And that's something I particularly like in a film, when it not only moves you to the point where tears are flooding your eyes, but when it leaves you with a great deal of psychological issues to ponder, about your own life, and what comes after your life is ultimately over. And that's what The Lovely Bones does. And while staying true to the source material, that's all a fan of this story can ask for.
61 of 75 people found the following review helpful
on January 9, 2010
This is such a wonderful movie that touched my heart while watching it. It was a skillful mixture of drama, suspense, love, and ghost story. It is a story of a trusting 14-year old girl, Suzie, who was murdered and knows her murderer. Her murderer dismembered her body parts and hid it in a safe, then later threw in a sinkhole. At some point the spirit of this murdered girl was trapped in some sort of "in between" worlds where other souls gather together in one world that seems perfect, and the human world where her family has been grieving for a long time and her parents are having difficulty in moving on. At first she did not know that she has been dead, eventually, she realized that she was now just a spirit wandering and desperate to communicate with her family regarding her murderer. Mark Wahlberg is a versatile actor who played the role of a father and whose immeasurable love was displayed through his true connection with his daughter. He tried his best to solve the murder of his child and ultimately succeeded with the help of his other daughter. Justice was served in a different manner. Rachel Weisz played just all right as the mother, however, I felt her emotions were not her best. Susan Sarandon is an alcoholic odd woman, yet funny who portrays the role of a grandma and who tried to pull things together when everyone was falling apart after her grand daughter's death.
This movie has wonderful cinematography, colorful graphics and animations, and special effects. This is a movie for all ages, and even though the focus of this movie is not on life after death, or death and dying, some would really wonder what is life after death, and appreciates that there really is heaven. It is a great movie and I would recommend it to anyone who has a taste for new concepts and ideas.
39 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on December 23, 2009
The great disappointment of Peter Jackson's "The Lovely Bones" isn't that it's so unpleasant, but that it tackles unpleasantness in a way that, for the most part, isn't compelling. It tells the story of Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan), a murdered teenage girl whose spirit wanders in a kind of emotional purgatory, and even in death, she's angry at her killer and desperate for her family to move forward; while the idea is indeed a powerful one, the structure of the film is so disjointed and psychologically confusing that it's difficult for the idea to completely sink in. This is a well intentioned story, and there were individual moments I thought were handled nicely. But on the whole, it falls short, lacking focus, precision, and the right balance between plot, spectacle, mystery, and heavy-handed drama.
As the spirit of Susie wanders through a spectacular dreamscape of vast oceans, immense mountains, and sprawling fields, she periodically interjects with voiceover narrations, which not only diminish the power of interpretation, but also are so shamelessly poetic, mature, and philosophically profound that they really just belabor the point. If there's anything we learned from Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner," it's to trust that the audience will understand what's going on without the aid of droning verbal explanations. I'm well aware that Alice Sebold's original novel was written in the first person, but must I remind you that books are not movies and movies are not books? When a story is finally given the visual treatment, when the words on the page are reinterpreted for the big screen, long stretches of expository dialogue are simply not necessary.
Neither the novel nor the film made any secret of the identity of Susie's killer; we know right off the bat that it was her neighbor, George Harvey (Stanley Tucci). It's much easier to believe in this character when he's alone in his house, methodically toiling away on finely detailed dollhouses and precise scale drawings for underground hideaways, ones that will eventually be made from branches, wood, and earth. He's isolated, addicted to routine, and always scheming - a man obsessed. When he's in the presence of other people, however, he isn't even remotely convincing as the man no one would suspect of being a serial killer. Not once does he seem like a "normal" neighbor, not even when the police are interrogating him in his living room.
Caught in the middle of this tragedy is Susie's family, who for months endure painful uncertainties. Her father, Jack (Mark Wahlberg), is especially hard hit, eventually becoming so obsessed with discovering the truth that he drives away his long suffering wife, Abigail (Rachel Weisz). Of all the things "The Lovely Bones" gets wrong, it's portrayal of the Salmon family is just about right, Jackson apparently understanding that everyone mourns in their own way and that some have a harder time of it than others. The only exception to this is Susie's grandmother, Lynn (Susan Sarandon), who I never once believed was capable of bringing stability back into the Salmon home; she's a hard-drinking, chain-smoking, wise-cracking hurricane of a woman so stylistically out of place that it's impossible to accept her.
Other characters, most notably Susie's would-be love interest (Reece Ritchie) and misunderstood former classmate (Carolyn Dando), are adequately played but serve no real purpose other than to provide Susie with another outlet for wordy narrations. Even Len Fenerman, the detective assigned to investigate Susie's disappearance (Michael Imperioli), isn't given much to do except generate tension within the Salmon family for failing to find leads. I was, however, taken with Susie's sister, Lindsay (Rose McIver), a strong-willed, independent young woman who goes the lengths others aren't willing to go. This leads to the film's most effective scene, when she breaks into George Harvey's home and searches for clues. The suspense is palpable, to say the least.
If only the rest of the film had been as well-crafted. There's no denying that deep emotion courses through the story, and yes, much of it is relatable. In addition, there is something to be said for sparing the audience from disturbing visuals that would have amounted to nothing but shock value, namely Susie's murder and dismemberment. And, of course, the scenes of Susie in spirit-world are visually creative; I especially enjoyed a shot of gigantic ship-in-a-bottle kits sailing on a turbulent ocean and crashing against the rocky shore, which happens just as Jack angrily smashes his own ship-in-a-bottle collection. None of this is an issue. What is an issue is that, for everything it was meant to be emotionally and visually, the inconsistent tones and development of character made none of it convincing.
That being said, I'm sure many will respond to this movie, regardless of whether or not they've read Sebold's novel. Not everyone can relate to the pain of losing a loved one, especially if violence was involved, but most can imagine what it must be like, and the simple truth is that Peter Jackson knows this and uses it to his advantage. Take from this movie what you will. I personally would have preferred a more coherent screenplay, one that relied less on narrative passages and more on plot, plausible character development, and style. It would be too much to say that "The Lovely Bones" is a bad film; in spite of the end result, its heart was in the right place. It would be more accurate to say that it's awfully misguided, like singing when you know the words but not the music.
25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2010
What's up with you people rating it 3 or under stars. Are you freaking kidding me?! This is one of those rare films I would see again and again. It's beautiful, it's haunting, it's the kind of film you cannot walk away from and not be moved by it or dare I say even changed by it. Susie did an awesome job acting and should have been nominated by the Oscars as she was by the Golden Globes. Her murderer was rightly so nominated. It departs somewhat from the book, if you recently read the book and then see the movie, the departures may bother you. Best case scenario is if you see the movie first or haven't read the book in many years and then see the movie. I love both the book and the movie. While this is fiction, it takes a subject that we all know is quite real and it does so, so beautifully, so eloquently, so respectfully, I dare you to watch this movie and walk away with a dry eye and unaffected. It's just not possible.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on April 24, 2010
Amazing! One of the most disturbing villians in movie history. Excellent, unpredictable story. Extremly well made film. Another great movie by Peter Jackson. Almost didn't watch it due to the review on rotten tomatoes. My wife and I thouroughly enjoyed it.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
As the story opens, the narrator, 14-year old Susie, tells us she was murdered. We then see a cringe-worthy scene (that doesn't actually show any violence) and Susie leaves earth for "the in-between;" a nice place, but not quite heaven. She watches her family as they cope with her death and the years pass.
I liked the book a lot, which is odd considering it's about a girl who is horrifically killed by a pervert. Except for that one scene, however, the book was uniformly upbeat and uplifting and brought me to happy tears. Susie loved being in her heaven, which looked like her beloved school and she could order peppermint ice cream anytime and never get told, "It's seasonal." The movie changes quite a lot of important plot points, the most notable being that Susie's "in-between" is set in a big field amid beautiful mountains, but she's not happy there and is usually agitated or confused. Instead of being joyous, the movie was very scary and relentlessly sad.
Young Saoirse Ronan (already an Oscar-nominee) is perfectly cast as Susie - all wide-eyed innocence. Stanley Tucci is subtly creepy as her killer, but wasn't quite loony enough. Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz were too young and beautiful to play her parents, and Susan Sarandon was obnoxious as her grandmother. Several characters who played key parts in the book were reduced to bit parts. The movie was very intense, but also very depressing, while the book left me comforted.
Bottom line: If you haven't read the book, you may well find this movie enthralling. I thought too much emphasis was placed on the strikingly visual after-life, while the hopeful message was missing entirely.