As you may (or may not) have noticed, I’ve gave up trying to use inventive titles in my film reviews long ago. I have no justification for this other than it’s a pain to do so. Anyway, on to the movie.
Weeks before I saw Peter Jackson’s latest film The Lovely Bones, I had the chance to talk to the Boston Globe’s film critic Ty Burr. Having heard that he was not especially fond of the movie, I playfully challenged him, saying that despite what he had to say I was going to see the film. He chuckled and gave the impression that he already knew what the outcome was going to be. He was right. The Lovely Bones is in no way a great movie. As a matter of fact, it’s not even a good movie, but rather it simply is.
Initially, what makes the movie fail at being anything but mediocre is the pace. Jackson apparently decided to take a long and leisurely pace in telling the story, and for some movies that works, but not in this case. Now look, I enjoy films that take the time to get their point across, but some movies simply do not need to take this approach. The movie is tedious beyond all reason, with there being moments in which I could hear the audience sighing out of impatience, as the characters on the screen were forced to wait absurd amounts of time before accomplishing what needed to be done.
The speed in which a movie progresses is usually not its killer. Additionally, what made The Lovely Bones a little less lovely was…almost everything else. Mark Wahlberg, along with most of the actors, aren’t given much to work with. Their scenes are rather short, leaving them with only various moments to shine. Key instances in the movie, such as when Salmon (yes the main character’s name is Salmon) meets her first love, are painfully corny.
This brings the question as whether such an awesome director as Peter Jackson was needed to make this movie. The man made his mark on cinematic history with The Lord of the Rings, and while some of that talent barely manages to shine through, I bet they could have used someone else. To see someone as Jackson make such a flop is somewhat sad, because you kind of expect him to produce something epic, something that’s up to his caliber of filmmaking. Alas, such was not the case here.
Perhaps the best parts of the movie were the darkest bits. Salmon’s murder is all but invisible to the audience, as she narrates the beginning of her death, along with taking a little while to discover that she’s actually dead, a haunting atmosphere fills the theater for a short while. The character of George Harvey, who is essentially the epitome of what it means to be plain old evil, is the best thing of the movie. He’s so ridiculously creepy and demented, able to convince everyone that he’s just another guy. Harvey’s evil is such that this is another thing Jackson knows how to play with and does so rather brilliantly.
Regardless, those few treasures of the movie alone are not enough to keep it afloat. I was disappointed when the movie ended; actually I was disappointed less than half-way in. You never really feel any connection to any of the characters, except Mr. Harvey, all the while wishing that someone would just shoot the man. Sadly, the critics were right this time around, and if you don’t believe me and insist on going to see this movie, then more power to you.