Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Escape-athon 2018 Review: The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones was a huge blind spot for me. It’s safe to say that I’m a decent Peter Jackson fan. I loved all the The Lord of the Rings films. I trudged through all the The Hobbit films. I’ve even seen Dead Alive. But for some reason the appeal of The Lovely Bones wasn’t enough to get my butt in the seat opening weekend back in 2009. Beyond that, interest dropped off and stayed dropped off. Turns out I wasn't missing much. Spoiler alert! 

In the film, Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan) is murdered by George Harvey (Stanley Tucci). Her family has to move on and Susie observes from beyond the grave.

The main problem with this film for me is that the afterlife scenes - aka, the whole point of the movie - just felt kind of off and disconnected from the rest of the film. They lacked weight and purpose. I actually wrote in my notes that I was somehow more interested in what was happening on Earth. Going in, I expected the heaven scenes would really be the crown jewel of the film. That said, I think it's a testament to how nasty Tucci's character is and how much you want to see him get justice in the end. Tucci makes Harvey absolutely chilling and disgusting.

Surprisingly, one little detail that nagged at me was the cornfield. If you haven't seen the film, Tucci's character builds a sort of secret pit in the neighborhood cornfield and that's where he murders Susie. The problem was, it kind of seemed to be everywhere. It was right next to the school and not far from the Salmon household. Seeing a map actually helped...because it was actually directly connecting the school and the neighborhood.

Another thing that bothered me was the photo rolls. First and foremost, wouldn't the cops have taken them? Susie's dad (Mark Wahlberg) slowly develops all the rolls of film that Susie had used before her death, apparently one roll a month. Why would you parse it out like that? I would think you'd want to develop them immediately because the odds of finding the killer would go down the longer you wait. Unless he wasn't doing it to track the killer?

Another MVP here is Rose McIver playing Susie's sister. She had a bit of a subplot of suspecting the neighbor George Harvey, which leads to a very tense scene finding a secret book Harvey hid in his house that documents his crimes.

At the end nothing really happens. Harvey gets away and it's years later before he...graphically falls to his death. There's no justice for the family. I guess that's the point the movie was trying to make. That's kind of it. I don't think we really even get a final definitive heaven scene from Susie. So that's it, it's kind of middling for me at the end of the day. Part of me really likes it and I love that I finally crossed it off my list, but it's definitely not, in my opinion, Jackson's best work.

2.5 out of 5 Stars

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