Reviews, Awards and Festival Coverage, Trailers, and miscellany from an industry outsider
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Two test screening reviews for "The Lovely Bones"
Oh sure, this is my first time... The movie was BETTER than I expected, and that's saying a lot because it's Peter Jackson... First the movie on a whole made me feel wonderful, which I didn't expect with such a dark premise, but Pete and crew are amazing with that kind of stuff. They tell you in the beginning what's going to happen, even so, there are parts that make you grip your chair with anticipation, or cringe with disgust even though you knew it was coming, and then the stuff you weren't prepared for, well it just blows you away.
All the performances were fantastic, all the characters emotions felt so real, which I think is difficult with this kind of subject matter, no one can imagine this sort of thing happening to them. But Suzy Salmon, the main character, is superb. This character needed a strong actress and she shines through the whole movie, it's her that pulls you in a makes you care. You instantly feel for all the characters, even the bad one, which is strange...
And the effects, which I would say hit about 25-30 minutes in, but I was so enthralled it's hard to say. But once the effects hit they are there apart of the movie and it feels so right. I didn't know what to expect of "heaven" but once you saw it you knew that's exactly what it was supposed to look like. It's actually like you get the pay off of the movie in the beginning, but it last the whole movie. While I was watching, there were moments that would make think of a different movie, which isn't necessarily a good thing, but every time I thought that, I'd immediately note how this movie has done it 10 times better.
I know you want more details on "heaven", but it really should be a surprise, but I'd say, and I'm no expert, but it seems all the effects are CG, no "physical" effects from what I could tell. When you were in "heaven" with Suzy it seemed real, and then something entirely impossible and beautiful, or scary would happened and you'd be reminded it wasn't reality. I'd say the whole movie had a slightly "other world" look to it, and a variety of camera work of the likes I don't think I've seen from Pete.
This movie is definitely more in the vein of Heavenly Creatures which we expected, but this has something more, a new movie and style for Pete Jackson and I love it. I think the less you know the better, but anyway you see it, you're in for a real treat this December (hopefully).
Love to The Geeks,
Now the below review is certainly not as positive as the above review. It reads a tad on the snarky side to me, but the below review is just as valid a view-point as the above. I will say that it sounds as if the source material itself wasn't up this person's alley as many of their complaints stem from the novel. The only area of concern for me personally is the talk about Jackson's camerawork and editing being jarring. I hope that's not the case... it's definitely not Jackson's M.O.
Anyway, here's the second review, the other side of the coin:
Last night I saw a test screening of Lovely Bones. It was said to be a work in progress with missing effects shots and the editing process was still ongoing. I don't know, I didn't see any scenes where there was obviously a CGI monster missing or anything. There were a few effect shots that didn't look finished and a bunch of spots that could use some color correction. But I usually feel that way walking out of a finished movie and this wasn't any more so. I know the score is usually one of the last elements to be added but I'm under the impression this was the Brian Eno score and not a temp.
The story is about a bright and sensitive preteen girl (Saoirse Ronan) who loves photography; then she gets savagely murdered by a child abductor. She is consequently taken to a magical afterlife of imaginative wonder while her family is torn apart by overwrought drama. And they also are trying to find her killer. The same killer whose identity we learned an hour ago.
This child abductor character was played by Stanly Tucci who I did not recognize and literally looked like he was dressed as a child molester for Halloween. He had a child molester mustache, a child molester hairline, child molester glasses, and he spoke with a child molester speech impediment. If he were a pirate he'd have an eye patch and three peg legs.
There's a line when Ronan's character is exploring this fantastical new afterlife of wonder and she decides it's not quite heaven and not quite the world of the living "but a little bit of both". That's the film's issue in a nut shell. It's two completely different things and they go together about as poorly as possible. The editing and camera work are jarring, blunt and clumsy. I've never seen Jackson (He's the director so I shoulda mentioned him by now) work like this, he keeps yanking me out of the scene and I hate it. There's lots of cross cutting between the two settings; the girl is lost in a forest of butterfly wings meanwhile her dad (Mark Wahlberg who I haven't mentioned) has a nervous breakdown and screams at his wife (a very unlikable Rachel Weisz) until they both cry. C'mon, I'm trying to escape to a world of magic here.
Apparently they're aiming for a pg-13 , that's baffling. Lovely Bones is like a PG film and an R forced together in a shot gun wedding. I could see young girls really loving parts of this movie. Too bad the other parts are about a young girl being abducted and murdered. Might be kind of a tough sell.
This cut had all these parts that don't fit. Why is Susan Sarandon in this movie? Why does the film turn into Rear Window at the 11th hour? Why does the murdered girl have an Asian sidekick in the afterlife?
That's about as far as I'm willing to go in ripping this unfinished film. I definitely see how this is a work in transition and I hope this cut is like the missing link to the good film they end up making. There's emotionally effective bits, impressive visual accomplishments and Saoirse Ronan is quite good in the lead (except it stops being the lead half way through). They need to pick a direction, dial down the shrieking sound design they use to cover up the absence of suspense and tone down the heavy handed camera work and editing. If they address all those issues in a final cut I'd definitely be interested in giving this film another look.