Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Lovely Bones

It’s just Gina and I on this one. Chad was MIA, though even if he had been with us I don’t think it would have benefited this review.

Peter Jackson’s most recent movie as a director is quite a bit of a change from his known projects. Lord of the Rings, King Kong, District 9, and coming soon The Hobbit are all Jackson projects with rather similar epic fantasy storylines. I’ll admit, I was fairly shocked that The Lovely Bones (based on the novel by Alice Sebold which neither of us has read) was a Jackson movie; just not his typical endeavor.

Though it is Rachel Weisz and Susan Sarandon with the Oscar on their shelves, it is Stanley Tucci who is well more deserving of the honor as the extremely odd, creepy, and sinister George Harvey. Harvey, a middle aged man who lives alone, builds dollhouses, likes to sit in dark areas, and ultimately decides to murder, keeps you completely on edge and uncomfortable every second he is on screen. Now don’t worry, I’m not giving anything away. This isn’t a mystery movie as to who the killer is, rather a journey of Susie Salmon’s soul as she makes her way to heaven while looking over her family and killer.

We start off following the young Salmon girl through part of her childhood learning of her friendships, relationships, and family life. But it is after her death that the movie really begins to grab you. The visual effects in Susie’s heaven were stunning, and exactly what we’ve come to expect from Jackson’s style as a thinking director. The symbolism and connection between Susie’s world and the real world occurrences (past and present) were intriguing to say the least, and really helped to carry the movie through some of the slower areas.

Gina: There were some periods where it was really slow and not much keeping you there.

Kevin: Pretty much every scene without Tucci would feel a lull.

One of the best scenes of the movie was when he comes home and suspects that someone is or has been in his house. We’re seeing one of the classic movie techniques done so many times before, however, Tucci brings so much more in conjunction with Jackson’s overall direction.

Now I know Mark Wahlberg was nominated for an Oscar as well, but I have a problem with that; and I’m a fan of his. I defended him after his part in The Happening when everyone criticized his “lack luster” performance; I said it was more the character he was given. Now I’m not so sure because both Gina and I saw a lot of the same characteristics. Maybe the deadpan roles just are not meant for him. His strengths really come to play in movies like Boogie Nights or Shooter where he can just let loose and have an over exaggerated personality.

Where the movie started to falter was in the last third. While the Susie’s fantasy world was amazing to look at, it just became a plethora of “stuff”.

Gina: I had no idea where it was going, and almost felt that I was watching a different movie.

Kevin: Yeah, Jackson’s attempt at a body and soul juxtaposition quickly turned into him just showing off.

And his overdone style, which I’ve never seen from him (can you catch my sarcasm yet?), continues right into the movies conclusion. This time not as much in visual effects but in his dragging out the final scenes. I can see why he did what he did with the ending after reading a synopsis of the novel, but you just can’t change things for part of the movie and then decide to go back to them later; nine times out of ten it won’t work… this probably accounts for seven of those nine.

Though I liked the suspense, and it generated a welcomed “FINALLY” from about half of the audience, Jackson’s rendition of this story will probably leave you torn. Probably not the easiest novel to transition to the silver screen.

Gina: For being a suspense movie, and all the recognition it received, I thought it should’ve been more suspenseful. 6 of 10 stars.

Kevin: 6.99 of 10 stars

Our combined rating: 6.5 of 10 stars.

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