The Lovely Bones
I was excited to see this movie. We have not seen a Peter Jackson movie that takes place anywhere near the world that we live in. I was most interested to see how he handles everyday situations, such as people sitting around the table eating dinner - my barometer for believable character directing.
After 2.25 hours of viewing, I am sorry to say that Mr Jackson should stick to science fiction. There were some sci-fi / supernatural elements to this film, but even those in my opinion could have been done better. The story was somewhat interesting, but oh so formulaic, predictable and filled with somewhat 1-dimensional characters: The loving father, the creepy neighbor, the cute little brother, the alcoholic mother-in-law, the sympathetic but aloof cop, the dreamy boyfriend and the dreary classmate. By the same token, I suppose most films have some of this formulaic aspect, but there are much more compelling examples.
I think Mystic River stands as one of the best example of a child abduction story with compelling characters, great acting and a good story. But then, Clint Eastwood has been at this a bit longer than Mr Jackson.
In case you don't know the story of The Lovely Bones, here it is, spoiler free:
Young Susie Starfish gets abducted by a creepy computer programmer, and wakes up inside Adobe After Effects where she befriends the little girl from Monsters, Inc. They explore the WETA Studios backlot for about half the movie while Susie's dad pretends he is Robert Graysmith from Zodiac, only without all the cool montages. Fran Drescher joins the family and smokes a lot while mom Winona Ryder takes a holiday. In the end, the audience wonders if they accidentally rented a mashup between "What Dreams May Come" and a Kodachrome commercial from the 1970's.
And that creepy neighbor - talk about a cliche.
I look forward to any opposing points of view.
PS - I did like the depiction of split-level living in the 1970's in a neighborhood adjacent to a creepy cornfield. From 1978-1982 I lived in a split-level house complete with tacky fake brick, stucco, paneling and a wet bar, in a neighborhood of split-levels, 3 blocks from a creepy soybean field through which we walked to and from school. Right around 1981 a young boy from our community was abducted by a supposed creepy guy and never seen again, and that was the beginning of the end of kids being allowed to wander the neighborhood alone, trick or treating without a parent and we never saw that creepy soybean field again.
Hahaha, that might be the funniest/greatest/most spot-on description of the plot of The Lovely Bones I've ever read.
But I've been a fan of Peter Jackson for a LONG time, without even realizing it at first. In high school my friends and I were re-watching Dead Alive like once a month, and I also loved Heavenly Creatures back then too (and I kinda liked The Frighteners, but didn't love it). But I didn't know/take note of who directed them. Then when Lord of the Rings was coming out I was wondering who this director they picked was, so I looked up Peter Jackson's filmography and all of the sudden was thrilled, saying "Oh, I've apparently been a fan of this guy for years!" Then after that, I (probably sadly to most) thought that even King Kong was good.
So that being said, it was almost heartbreaking to see a bad Peter Jackson movie. And bad The Lovely Bones definitely was.
It's almost like anyone could have directed it, like a person fresh out of film school who had all the tools and budget. Maybe the dream world would be less "technical", but all the other mechanics of the filmmaking would have been the same; sub-par. Parts of it seemed like a Lifetime made-for-TV drama.
I guess people say the book is amazing, I've never read it, but if the book ends the same way as the movie, then I can't help but think even the book is flawed in how it resolves things.
I guess the acting wasn't the problem, it was more the screenplay, the over-length, and an ending that I assume was missing the point. It actually started off pretty interesting, but quickly turned to disappointment, and ultimately had me squirming in the theater waiting for it to end. I don't think I ever plan on checking it out on DVD for a re-watch.
I was going to mention Heavenly Creatures as well; Jackson did a marvelous job in that, a long time ago. So we know he CAN do it, if he has a good script. He's going ahead with The Hobbit, but I understand that he's going to have DelToro direct that, and I think he's a good choice.
Then you should probably avoid Tideland, I'm thinking...