Newest Reviews
12 Hour Shift
Filmmaker's House, The
Intergalactic Adventures of Max Cloud, The
Spoilers, The
Killer Therapy
Man Upstairs, The
Bloodhound, The
New Mutants, The
Flame of New Orleans, The
Ham on Rye
Imperial Blue
August 32nd on Earth
Don is Dead, The
Seven Sinners
Body of Water
About Endlessness
Let It Snow
Deliver Us from Evil
Shark Attack 3: Megalodon
Midnight Sky, The
Lego Star Wars Holiday Special, The
Mon Oncle Antoine
Blast of Silence
Blackout, The
Stars in Your Eyes
Climate of the Hunter
Farewell Amor
Let's Scare Julie
Okko's Inn
Shaolin vs. Wu Tang
Butt Boy
Dog of Flanders, The
Bushido Blade, The
Newest Articles
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
Network Double Bills: The House in Nightmare Park and The Man Who Haunted Himself
Newley Minted: The Strange World of Gurney Slade on Blu-ray
Bad Love: The Night Porter on Blu-ray
Brevity is the Soul of Weird: Short Sharp Shocks on Blu-ray
Get Your Ass to Mars: Total Recall on Blu-ray
Call the Professionals: Le Cercle Rouge on Blu-ray
When There's No More Room in Hell: Dawn of the Dead on Blu-ray
The Butterfly Effect: Mothra on Blu-ray
Living Room Theatre: Play for Today Volume 1 on Blu-ray
Didn't He Do Well: The Bruce Forsyth Show on DVD
Blood Wedding: The Bride with White Hair on Blu-ray
The Inhuman Element: The Ladykillers on 4K UHD
As You Like It, Baby: Breathless on Blu-ray
Stargazing: Light Entertainment Rarities on DVD
Down to the Welles: Orson Welles Great Mysteries Volume 2 on DVD
Herding Cats: Sleepwalkers on Blu-ray
Confessions of a Porn Star: Adult Material on DVD
They're Still Not Sure It is a Baby: Eraserhead on Blu-ray
Werewolves are Real: Dog Soldiers on Digital
  Lovely Bones, The Prayer For The Dead
Year: 2009
Director: Peter Jackson
Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, Michael Imperioli, Saoirse Ronan, Rose McIver, Christian Thomas Ashdale, Reece Ritchie, Carolyn Dando, Nikki SooHoo, Andrew James Allen, Jake Abel, Amanda Michalka, Thomas McCarthy
Genre: Drama, Thriller, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan) remembers when she was a little girl, and was captivated by the snowglobe that she owned which contained a little figure of a penguin; she was entranced by the thought of it trapped forever in its own perfect world. When she was older, she saved her brother from choking on a twig by dragging his body into the family car when her parents were out and driving him to the hospital - it's a miracle she didn't get into an accident and her grandmother (Susan Sarandon) told her she had done such a good deed that she would live a long and fruitful life in return, as it was the way of the world. But when she was fourteen, Susie was murdered...

It's safe to say that Peter Jackson did not receive the kind of acclaim for his film version of The Lovely Bones that the original author Alice Sebold had when it was published. In fact, for those who had read it the reaction was one of utter disdain, as if he had been so caught up in his cinematic box of tricks that he had lost sight of his story and what had made it affect so many readers. Yet while it's true there was little sense that the director had artisitcally secured a handle on his production, it was unfair to pin that solely on the computer effects that peppered the narrative, as they didn't really dominate, even if they did stick in audience's minds as being the worst aspect.

But depictions of the afterlife, which is where Susie narrates from, have always been very much in the eye of the beholder, and Jackson adopted a painterly approach that was appropriately unreal. So Susie makes her way through a variety of artificial-looking landscapes depicting different seasons and sometimes over literal representations of what has happened to her before she arrived there, along with pointers to what will occur to those she has left behind. Though these may be vivid and never convincing - but what would be? - there are bigger problems with this than its endeavours to give its dead heroine peace through the wonders of technology, as the sequences set in the real world were no less troublesome.

At first it appears Jackson is reaching that uncertain balance between the sweetness of Susie's pre-murder life, where she is about to fall in love properly for the first time and the seeds of her career as a photographer are being sown, and the fact that we already know (as she has told us) that she will be killed soon. Yet still there is an unsteady idealisation of the character's life that never rings true, and after the terrible act that befalls her the film does not recover, no matter how often Ronan gazes off into the distance with a wistful yet meaningful expression on her face. It doesn't help that the killer is played by Stanley Tucci in a weirdly cartoonish manner, as if it was the movie's idea of what a serial murderer should be rather than anyone who seems authentic.

For example, look at the makeup job that Tucci is labouring under, the man's appearance simply screams creepy, another element of overemphasis that would see him arrested within nanoseconds rather than allowed to go about his business unimpeded. Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz play the parents with almost nothing to work with, buffeted along by the plot without making much impression, leaving the acting honours to go to Sarandon going over the top as the grandmother and Rose McIver to turn Nancy Drew as the younger sister in another unpersuasive thread. On this evidence, it's hard to see how anyone thought The Lovely Bones would make a smooth transition to the screen, and you could argue that in trying to make dewey-eyed and palatable what should have been harrowing they were adopting a horrendously misjudged tack. As it plays out, the drama grows tedious as we await the killer's comeuppance, and even then that conclusion fails to satisfy with a silly coda. We can only be thankful it wasn't based on a real case. Music by Leo Abrahams and Brian Eno.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 2497 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film


Peter Jackson  (1961 - )

Hugely talented New Zealand director best known today for his Lord of the Rings adaptations. Started out making inventive, entertaining gore comedies like Bad Taste and Braindead, while his adult Muppet-spoof Meet the Feebles was a true one-off. Jackson's powerful murder drama Heavenly Creatures was his breakthrough as a more 'serious' filmmaker, and if horror comedy The Frighteners was a bit of a disappoinment, then his epic The Lord Of The Rings trilogy - Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King were often breathtaking interpretations of Tolkien's books. 2005's blockbuster King Kong saw Jackson finally realise his dream of updating his all-time favourite film, but literary adaptation The Lovely Bones won him little respect. In 2012 he returned to Middle Earth with the three-part epic The Hobbit and in 2018 directed acclaimed WWI doc They Shall Not Grow Old.

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Darren Jones
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Stately Wayne Manor
Enoch Sneed
  Geraint Morgan
Paul Smith
  Lee Fiveash


Last Updated: