Imagination is a tricky thing to show on film: too little, and things look predictable; too much, and the work starts overtaking itself. The tipping point varies from film to film.
Having directed heavily engineered but well-balanced films like Lord of the Rings, Peter Jackson is obviously still in the grip of an obsession with CGI in The Lovely Bones, to the extent that he misses the point of using the effects to help tell a story.
The film's computer visuals, like walking in the sky amid racing clouds, aren't cheesy, but overwhelm and disappoint through their sheer excess.
Based on Alice Sebold's 2002 award-winning novel of the same name, The Lovely Bones tells the story of a 14-year-old girl from suburban Pennsylvania who is murdered by her neighbour. She tells her story from a place between heaven and earth, observing the lives of the people around her and how they change while attempting to find her body.
Despite its staggering budget of US$65 million and the obvious efforts of the filmmakers, the movie fails to capture the novel's poetry and mood. Still, the performances deliver as one would expect from such a star-studded cast. Saoirse Ronan, of Joe Wright's Atonement fame, gives the character of Susie Salmon maturity and grace. Stanley Tucci, the camp art director from The Devil Wears Prada, delivers a convincing performance of a killer that will send shivers down your spine.
YP rating: 3/5