Based on the book by Alice Sebold, "The Lovely Bones" is told from the perspective of Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan), a 14 year old girl who was murdered by her neighbor, George Harvey (Stanley Tucci). Susie is "stuck in the in between": no longer alive but unable to move on to heaven as of yet. Meanwhile in the real world, Harvey carries on, having never been caught, and Susie's parents Jack and Abigail (Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz) are left to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives. Susie's spirit runs wild in a dream world of her own imagining but always finds herself haunted by Harvey. As the psychopath gets closer and closer to her sister Lindsey (Rose McIver), Susie tries to communicate with her family to lead them to the right conclusions.
There are two reasons, in my opinion, as to why "Bones" did not do very well either with critics or audiences:
1.) It's too sci-fi/fantasy for the average movie goer but not enough so to reach a sci-fi audience;
2.) It reeks of Shattered Award Ambition, meaning it wants and even expects to be award worthy but it just isn't. That doesn't really bother me so much but I know it drives a lot of people stinkin' crazy and looks like a giant target for anyone who wants to take a shot.
Award ambitions aside, I found "Bones" to be a quality movie.The visuals are outstanding and as with all Peter Jackson films, the actors are put in position to succeed. Ronan does a very good job in a very difficult role. Wahlberg, Weisz, and Michael Imperioli are solid across the board and Stanley Tucci lives up to the Oscar nomination (Best Supporting Actor) he received. Creeeeppppy. What holds this movie back is the story, or rather, the conclusion of the story. Usually if a movie lulls or drops in quality, the drop comes in the second act; the bridge between beginning and end is usually the part that struggles and that's what I've come to expect more often than not. Here, however, the set up is good, the middle act pulls its weight, but then the wrap seems rushed and a little haphazard.
Think of this as the Saturday Night Live Effect: think of how many zany bits SNL put on over the years that ended so bizarrely that you wondered if they were running out of time or coming down from a high. Maybe we could call this the "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" effect. The third act tries to wrap everything up in about five minutes and it is simply a bit lacking. I'm not someone who needs a tidy, happy, cliche ending to every story. Sometimes the bad guy needs to win or the girl needs to get away or the band needs to stay broken up because that's reality. SPOILER: What I don't like, however, is the middle ground ending, the one that says, "Well they never did catch the guy but oh by the way he died later anyway so it's all good." It's just a bit unsatisfying. For me, it doesn't keep it from being a solid movie but it does keep it from being one of great substance as I imagine it intends to be.