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The Blue & Gray Press | November 18, 2017

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‘The Lovely Bones’ a Strange Mix of Smart Drama and Effects

By ISAAC WHALEN

The Oscar nominated film “The Lovely Bones” contains two stunning worlds that mix strangely, the world of acting and the world of CGI.

Peter Jackson’s cinematic rendition of the Alice Sebold novel provides an entertaining plot with excellent acting, but with seemingly out of place special effects. Known as a master of special effects, Jackson delivers his trademark skill of creating an imaginary world out of computers and pixels. However, the intensity of the CGI is at odds with the very realistic acting of the cast, creating disharmony within the movie.

The film centers on the Salmon family in the 1970s after the abduction and murder of their daughter Suzie at the age of 16. As the family deals with their grief, Suzie must learn to move on in the after life, rather than dwell on the things she missed as well as interfering with the lives of her family. There is a fair amount of suspense in the movie as Suzie’s father, played by Mark Walberg, attempts to hunt down her killer, played by an extremely creepy Stanley Tucci and bring him to justice. This game of cat and mouse gives the film an Hitchcock feel, which is negated by the heavy presence of the supernatural.

Yet this film is not only a mystery thriller. Rather, the underlying theme of this movie focuses on how to deal with the grief of loosing a loved one. Large portions of the film depict the heavy amounts of strain the family undergoes, especially in the relationship between husband and wife. Susan Sarandon gives a solid performance as the crazy, comic relief grandmother who comes in to help the family cope with Suzie’s untimely death. The entire casts gives a strong performance in their roles, and really help the plot progress. What makes this film disappointing is the juxtaposition of the special effects. Both the acting and CGI are quite good, yet they seem to fight for control of the film.  The viewer is often distracted from the dialogue because of the effects, thus spoiling the acting.

The film still works though, and is an interesting watch despite its shortcomings. It raises many questions about what life and death really mean, as well as the connections between the people within a family. While the visual effects and the acting are not harmonious, the film does a good job at presenting both. While not as strong as Jackson’s other works “The Lovely Bones” is worth a viewing.