Oscar-winning director Jackson ('The Lord of the Rings' trilogy) had previously demonstrated a penchant for capturing the eeriness of teenage murder in his 1994 'Heavenly Creatures,' but critics have not mustered up the same enthusiasm for his latest. Read the following review excerpts, and then let us know what you think. Peter Jackson co-wrote and directed 'The Lovely Bones,' the highly-anticipated adaptation of Alice Sebold's unsettling best-seller of a novel, which follows Susie Salmon (played by 'Atonement''s Saoirse Ronan), a 14-year-old who is brutally murdered on her way home from school one December day in 1973. Susie now watches and narrates from heaven as her friends and family (including parents played by Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz) grieve her death and try and track down her killer (creepily portrayed by Stanley Tucci).
Oscar-winning director Jackson ('The Lord of the Rings' trilogy) had previously demonstrated a penchant for capturing the eeriness of teenage murder in his 1994 'Heavenly Creatures,' but critics have not mustered up the same enthusiasm for his latest. Read the following review excerpts, and then let us know what you think.
The New York Times: "As a pictorial artifact 'The Lovely Bones' is gorgeous. It pulses and blooms and swells with bright hues and strange vistas. But it does not move. Or, rather, as it skitters and lurches from set piece to the next, papering the gaps with swirls of montage, it never achieves the delicate emotional coherence that would bring the story alive."
Entertainment Weekly: "Susie follows the narrative path set for her in the striking 2002 novel by Alice Sebold on which this much-awaited adaptation by Peter Jackson is based. But as directed by the lord of 'The Lord of the Rings' from a screenplay by Jackson, Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens, his bleached Bones bears little resemblance to the book in either tone or complexity. Readers will be frustrated; newcomers to the story may wonder why what is now essentially a serial-killer thriller includes so many scenes of a heaven that looks like a gumdrop-colored hobbit shire, a magical place of fanciful special effects."
USA Today: "Some books are not meant to be adapted to the big screen. Alice Sebold's best-selling 'The Lovely Bones' falls into that category. The novel, told from the perspective of a murdered 14-year-old girl, is chilling and poetic. It can't have been easy to adapt because of its reliance on the musings of a dead, omniscient narrator. But a device that works on the page comes off artificial and emotionless on-screen. The movie strikes clashing tones, veering from lightheartedness to heavy-handedness."
The New Yorker: "Jackson has become an undisciplined fabulist: the movie is redundant and undramatic. Heaven is notoriously harder to make interesting than Hell, but Jackson has outdone other artists in cotton candy-there are luscious hills and dales, and gleaming lakes and fields of waving grain, and sugarplum fairies with music by Brian Eno rather than by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. 'The Lovely Bones' has been fashioned as a holiday family movie about murder and grief; it's a thoroughly queasy experience."
Associated Press: "Odd as it sounds, Peter Jackson needed to come down to Earth a bit more in 'The Lovely Bones,' his adaptation of Alice Sebold's best-seller about a murdered girl looking back on her life from beyond. The visionary filmmaker behind 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy still is in fantasyland, still in the grip of Middle-earth, and the film suffers for it as Jackson crafts lovely but ineffectual dreamscapes of the afterlife that eviscerate much of the human side of the story."
New York Observer: "...the New Zealand director's trademark recipe of fantasy, realism and computerized visual effects turns 'The Lovely Bones' into a thrilling adventure. I love the exquisite blend of chilling murder mystery, suspenseful crime story and domestic melodrama, and especially the way Mr. Jackson lets his imagination run barefoot through the flames to deal with very difficult material indeed. My heart was pounding in my throat from start to finish. Take a Valium. The suspense could kill you."
Variety: "There has been cautious optimism among longtime Jackson followers that this material might inspire him to create a worthy companion piece to his 1994 'Heavenly Creatures,' which similarly involves teenagers and murder in an otherwise tranquil setting .... Unfortunately, the massive success Jackson has enjoyed in the intervening years with his CGI-heavy 'The Lord of the Rings' saga (the source of which receives fleeting homage in a bookstore scene here) and 'King Kong' has infected the way he approaches this far more intimate tale."
Get more 'Lovely Bones' reviews on RottenTomatoes.com.