Having not read Alice Sebold's 2002 novel The Lovely Bones from which Peter Jackson's 2009 film of the same name was based on, I have no judgment on how well it was adapted. However I can tell you from a movie-goer standpoint that it definitely didn't grab my attention or keep me entertained in the least. It made me go, eh' at best.
Having already written a review on one of my favorite horror movies and one of the biggest hidden gems out there, that being Peter Jackson's The Frighteners, it utterly pains me to say that Peter Jackson has failed me here. I know, I know, I don't wanna believe it, but it's the truth. Creating an artistic movie off of the theme of a 14 year old girl being murdered and raped is a bold statement, and let's face it the emotional aspect is there, but this film just didn't do it for me. I was honestly sadder watching Spike Jonze's film adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are than I was during The Lovely Bones.
When it comes down to it, it was just slow.
The story is told in 1973 suburbia from the perspective of Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan), a recent murder/rape victim who while stuck in purgatory watches her family grieve and drone on after her death. Having not read the novel, I don't know how well it was translated from book to screen. The problem however is though, speaking from plot and story, nothing really happens. When something actually does happen, it takes far too long- the story is drug out. The film definitely isn't depressing somehow (which is the emotional aspect I was expecting), but instead a long drug out hopeful approach to a family trying to find closure with their daughter's death with some attempts at comedy from time to time.
Ugh, this is where my mixed feelings come in, because all the performances were hands down excellent. All the characters emotions seemed so genuine, a task I would imagine difficult with the theme of the story. Stanley Tucci, who plays Suzie's murderer, does such an amazing job- and really so does everyone else. The film definitely didn't fail here.
Also, the imagery that Peter Jackson gave us as Purgatory was a pleasant sight for the eye, but it wasn't as Peter Jackson'ish as I was hoping. There wasn't that much of it and it didn't really do anything except make you're eyes widen and say, "awww, pretty".
The lack of character development and an understanding of their purpose to the story is what hurt the film. The characters weren't as connected as they could have been. I'm sure they were in the book, I mean Oprah did recommend it so it's gotta be amazing, but the film didn't do them justice. The alcoholic grandmother was a waste of time and screen (not saying that Susan Saranon's performance wasn't good), but her role in the movie could have been completely cut out and it wouldn't have made a difference. Also, Suzie's first kiss with Ray? That whole part seemed so unnecessary and straight out of left field. He hadn't been in the story for at least 45 minutes and then out of nowhere Suzie's spirit is summoned for their first kiss? I'm sure the book made this part much more romantic, important, and meaningful- but the film sure made it seem forced and pointless. And lets not forget the random demise of Tucci, another arbitrary clip.
Eh, I dunno. None of it seemed to work for me.
What it had: Excellent performances. Stanley Tucci deserves awards! Also the special effects were cool, duh.
What it needed: More of a story in a less amount of time. I know, I know it's a book adaptation and the CGI king that is Peter Jackson is king, and will be king for many decades to come I'm sure, but The Lovely Bones is too small of a piece of work for him. It was too bland.
Alright let’s wrap this one up. Verdict: It was OK at best. I was really eager to watch this movie, but was definitely disappointed with it overall. I won't go as far as to call it bad, but I can't ever see myself watching it again. There you have it, take it as you will.