Scrolling Headlines:

Pat Kelsey informs UMass AD Ryan Bamford of change of heart just 35 minutes before scheduled press conference -

March 23, 2017

Past and present UMass football players participate in 2017 Pro Day Thursday -

March 23, 2017

Pat Kelsey reportedly backs down from UMass men’s basketball coaching position -

March 23, 2017

Students react to new fence around Townehouses -

March 23, 2017

‘Do You Have The Right To Do Drugs?’ debate held in Bowker Auditorium -

March 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse looks to build on three-game winning streak against Brown -

March 23, 2017

UMass softball riding five-game win streak into first Atlantic 10 showdown -

March 23, 2017

Sanzo: Inability to win close games has hurt UMass baseball -

March 23, 2017

Hannah Murphy scores 100th career goal in UMass women’s lacrosse 16-9 win over Harvard -

March 23, 2017

Old age does no harm to indie rock legends The Feelies -

March 23, 2017

A track-by-track breakdown of Drake’s new project -

March 23, 2017

When a president lies -

March 23, 2017

Let them eat steak, and other gender norms I hate -

March 23, 2017

Dissecting Science: Episode Two -

March 22, 2017

Holy Cross 10-run eighth inning sinks UMass baseball -

March 22, 2017

UMass students react to Spring Concert lineup -

March 22, 2017

Letter: Vote yes for Amherst -

March 22, 2017

You don’t have to walk alone -

March 22, 2017

Tyler Bogart and D.J. Smith lead UMass men’s lacrosse during three game win streak -

March 22, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse emphasizes defense in approaching games as its key to gaining momentum for conference play -

March 22, 2017

‘The Lovely Bones’ lacks backbone

In making “The Lovely Bones,” director Peter Jackson ventures perilously into the land of risk – a land traversed when moviemakers try to make a wildly popular book into a movie. Many have done it right – take “Twilight,” “Harry Potter,” and for instance, even Jackson’s own “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Given his pedigree, it’s easy to assume that Jackson would be a pro at this by now. The audience of “The Lovely Bones,” however, would have to disagree.

“The Lovely Bones” is essentially a movie about death and not wanting to let go. The main character, Susie Salmon – played by newcomer Saoirse Ronan – doesn’t want to let go of her life, which was snuffed out tragically at the start of the film by her creepy neighbor, George Harvey (Stanley Tucci). Harvey tries to keep his identity a secret from Susie’s biggest advocates, her father (Mark Wahlberg) and sister (Rose McIver). While Susie copes with her situation in a limbo of her own making, she won’t move on until her death is avenged.

For a movie about murder, the plot is rather backward. The audience is introduced to the killer within the first few minutes, and the bulk of the story is played out before the movie is half over. It is more akin to a socialcommentary on how family members and close friends deal with death than a murder mystery. Some seem to obsess, making every aspect of their own lives about vengeance, while others simply deny what has happened and try to forget as quickly as possible. The draw to “The Lovely Bones,” however, is supposed to be waiting around to see if Susie’s family and the police pick up on the obvious clues that her killer leaves along the way.

Anyone who sees “The Lovely Bones” after reading the novel will be sorely disappointed in many respects. Many scenes, including the first long shot of the film, could have easily been cut to make room for more relevant parts from the book. Huge plotlines aren’t even touched upon, while some characters aren’t introduced at all, and many of the characters that are lucky enough to make an appearance aren’t developed as much as they should be. 

That being said, the actors in Jackson’s film do the best they can with the choppy storyline he has given them. As the antagonist, Stanley Tucci does a great job at playing an average, quiet next-door neighbor who happens to be a psychopath behind closed doors. Then there’s Ronan, whose only other notable role was in “Atomement,” and who obviously has a talent for acting. Susan Sarandon also shines, though her role was far too minor. She plays the kooky grandmother who is supposed to help the family recover from the devastating loss of their daughter. She’s a reckless alcoholic who can’t seem to do normal house chores, but succeeds in bringing life back into the house, as well as into the faltering “Bones.”

Other members of the A-list cast don’t live up to their reputations. With palpable talent in movies like “Enemy at the Gates” and “About a Boy,” Rachel Weisz has proven her bankability in Hollywood. However, this star fails to shine in “The Lovely Bones,” playing a character who seems too young to be the mother of teens. She comes off as an unconvincing figure, particularly when Susie first goes missing, opting instead to wait for the police to find her. No mother would do that.

Mark Wahlberg comes off as a bit young for his part as well, though at least he brings pathos to the part that his counterpart seems to lack.

Thankfully, the setting keeps things interesting. Meg Everist and George DeTitta Jr. do an amazing job of recreating the1970s Technicolor era. The furniture, the bellbottoms and even the loud use of color – all of it is impeccable. Susie’s limbo is a visual delight, though it might be a rip-off. Evidently, Jackson sees heaven as a cross between Narnia and the Middle Earth of his more famous films. The trippy scenes keep the audience guessing what will happen next on Susie’s journey.

Due to faulty characters and big plotline gaps, it’s unlikely that “The Lovely Bones” will be hailed as a classic or work its way onto any best movies of the year lists. If the story is intriguing, instead of paying the $10 to go see this mediocre film, head to the nearest Borders and just pick up the book instead.

Kate MacDonald can be reached at kaitlynm@student.umass.edu.

Comments
One Response to “‘The Lovely Bones’ lacks backbone”
  1. james says:

    What movie did you see Kate? Mark Wahlberg brought some kind of pathos to his role? Are you kidding me? Do you know how many times the audience in my theater laughed at him during this film for his horrible performance. Susan Sarandon shines? in what? Her character does not even fit with the film and her montages with her house cleaning has to be one of the most awkward and off putting scenes ever put in a major film. Rachel Weisz at least made you believe that she was a parent who was grieving and she felt real while Wahlberg came across as a fake. Too bad most of Weisz’s role (which was reported in the press) was cut out of the film, because i would have liked to spent more time with her than the phony acting of Wahlberg and Sarandon. At least her character had an interesting subplot that actually moved the novel along and would have moved the movie as well if Peter Jackson was not such a hack and cut out those scenes from the film. instead, we are subjected to a bad run of the mill CGI heavy mystery that has probably the worst performance ever by Mark Wahlberg who comes across more like a slow adult that a father looking for his daughter and a bad comedic turn by Susan Sarandon that should get a razzie.

Leave A Comment