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In the wake of Harry Potter the popular Lemony Snicket books have been
rushed into production and considering the less than promising prospect
of Brad Silberling directing and Jim Carrey starring, I didn't really
hold out much hope. It turns out that the film is surprisingly good and
apart from The Incredibles this was the only big budget Hollywood film
I truly enjoyed this year.
Like Harry Potter, the Lemony Snicket books appeal to adults as well as to children but they are darker, funnier and more eccentric, making them more of a cult than the mainstream success of the Harry Potter series.
If you've read the books, you may miss the clever word play and you may feel that the two older children are miscast. Unlike in the books, the boy doesn't come across as particularly brainy and the girl looks just a bit too sexy as Violet, reminiscent of a teenage Anjelina Jolie. Still they are better than some of the child actors in the Harry Potter series.
On a visual level the film is simply stunning. True, some of it is reminiscent of Tim Burton as both Burton and Daniel Handler are strongly influenced by the work of the writer and illustrator Edward Gor ey. The look of the film is a highly stylized mixture of Edwardian times and the 1950's and convincingly brings to life the parallel universe of the books, where death is ever present and where the whole world has conspired to make the Baudelaire children's life a misery.
Folding books two and three into the storyline of the first one, the plot feels episodic but it stays consistently entertaining. Not being a Jim Carrey fan I was worried about his involvement (I still think Richard E. Grant would have been the perfect choice) but he nails and certainly looks the part of evil, failed thespian Count Olaf and thankfully he doesn't end up dominating the film, turning it into the Jim Carrey show.
The section involving Meryl Streep's fearful Aunt Josephine is the best part of the film. Taking place against backdrops reminiscent of Masaki Kobayashi's stylish horror classic Kwaidan, Lake Lachrymose is as beautiful as it is nightmarish.
Make sure to stay for the beautifully animated credit sequence.
OK...I really enjoyed the film and I felt it captured everything I
wanted it to about the books and more. However, and while it may be an
odd thing to say, is that was the best set of credits I've ever seen.
They were beautifully done, well done to whoever it was that created them...the artwork was spectacular and the animation perfectly in tune with the tone of the books.
very entertaining...well done!
In addition I would like to add than Jim Carrey fitted the role of Count Olaf perfectly, and while I may not be a huge fan of his previous work he provided the much needed humour to keep the story moving the watcher intrigued
Before entering the theatre, I'd never glanced at any of the "Lemony Snicket" books. I'd never even heard of them. Having seen the film, I'll make it a priority to take a look. The film has a strong "Harry Potter" feel, what with the heroic, much put-upon British children, and the fantastical setting. If J.K. Rowling had cast Lord Voldemort as a nefarious villain out to steal the Potter family fortune, and made Ron and Hermione Harry's siblings, I imagine it would look something like this. Jim Carrey swallows huge chunks of scenery in his portrayal of Count Olaf, one of the most despicable villains to grace the silver screen in a while. The four child actors are all superb, especially the very attractive Emily Browning as the inventor, Violet. The film comes with a wonderfully disturbing climax, and a enjoyably happy epilogue that hints at many future misfortunes for the Baudelaire children. I'll be there. 9/10.
I first heard of these books when I saw my younger brother reading them. I got curious and when I saw they were making a movie was sure to read the first three before seeing it. Right off the bat, I can tell you that if you are a completely possessive fan of these books you might be rather disappointed by this movie. The movie condenses books "The Bad Beginning," "The Reptile Room," and "The Wide Window" by slicing the first book in half and placing the other two inside of it, like a sandwich. Of course in order for this to be possible the story has to change to make it work, so some elements are not factual. Combine this with Snicket's usually clever details in the book having to be cut down and very loyal fans are going to be disappointed. The movie also adds in a subplot that the first three books do not possess, but that the later ones (according to my brother) do, so I was a bit bothered by having that element ruined if i choose to read more of the series. I, however, understand the difference between books and movies, and think that on the whole they succeeded in keeping the tone and uniqueness of this series. Carrey as Olaf is wonderful and adds something to a character that seems to be rather dry in the books and the children are believable and easy to sympathize with. While humor was scarce, the tone of the books is more clever than humorous anyway. Overall my only issues are plot-wise and how this creates a choppy feel to the film, but I don't know of a way it could have been done better. The movie was well done with(as many are saying) excellent scenery, costumes, etc., yet nothing made this film completely amazing. It is however, worth the time and money and one should definitely read the books. ~Steven C
First, let it be declared that in the media of movie, it is a downright
shock that Nickelodeon's monicker appears in this film. It is by far,
the best film they have ever made. Second, it is probably the only
movie you will see made for children (supposedly) and containing a
claymation elf holding a rifle.
Second, let it be known that this movie is the most visually pleasing children's (live-action) film any of us will see for years. The costume design is amazing, from the strap-laden sunny to the neo-Gothic formality of Violet, and especially in the under-appreciated and subtle '60s formal-casual of Klaus, who looks like a miniature Harold from "Harold and Maude". The sets are equally beautiful, a spree of Burtonesque Gothic-Modern Post-Industrial Asymmetry, from the half formed carnage of The burnt Baudelaire Mansion to the perfectly executed closing credits, animated to perfection. Cinematography also plays an amazing roll on the parts of Violet and Klaus, where ingenious images are used to insert the audience into the minds of the genius Baudelaires.
Last, the performances, only two that everyone has't heard; Jude Law's perfect narration, and The Hoffman Twins astonishing performance as Sunny. Law's performance is so on target that it never occurs that this voice is not the elusive and enigmatic pseudonym himself. He is the perfect compliment to the often exciting or disturbing actions being inflicted upon the accurately charming and intelligent Baudelaires. as for Sunny, they have performed the impossible in giving a perfect performance to an infant from an infant, in both the physical acting and the ingenious form of translation. The sequels are sure to be the greatest of series, even if the events be unfortunate as they have been.
As an artist, this reviewer cannot help but give this movie a 10/10. It is his deep desire that you appreciate it as much as he, if not, well... ... that is rather... ... unfortunate.
Having read none of the Lemony Snickett books, I was unsure of what to
expect from this film.
The film begins with a gentle introduction that quickly turns into a humorous, but noteworthy, disclaimer that the following film has dark underlying themes. The main characters are introduced (the three children) and almost instantly we are subjected to the news of the first in a series, or unfortunate events. The film is fast paced and sends the children from one unfortunate situation to another, with Jude Law doing a splendid job of narrating the story along the way. The children a likable and resourceful characters with good chemistry between the actors. You genuinely feel they care about each other and have a great desire to help each other out of these incredible situations.
The real star of the show of course is Jim Carrey. This film provides the perfect platform for Mr Carrey to do what he does best, goof around and play over the top and outlandish characters. In this role Jim Carrey excels, never goofing off to much to undermine the credibility of the character, but being suitably over the top to convey the eccentric old count.
Visually, the film is stunning, the sets look straight out of a Tim Burton film, the costumes are fantastic, the direction is splendid and does a fine job of progressing the story. The visual effects are tremendous and fit in with the tale perfectly, never distracting nor undermining.
This film is quite dark for a children's film, but not dark in a sinister way, but dark in a spooky hallowe'en sort of way that kids love. Watching the film reminded me of reading Rhoal Dahl books as a child, with the over the top characters and out of this world situations.
The plot of the film is fast paced, but contains good character development and plenty of action and adventure. I would recommend this film to children and adults alike.
Some movies are just plain fun to watch. This is one.
It's funny, it's dramatic and it's a great visual treat with Tim Burton-esquire wild images throughout. This is a superb job of combining great visuals, special effects and an entertaining story.
The two kids, played by Emily Browning and Liam Aiken, should get top billing since they are in every scene while Jim Carrey is in about half.
Everyone in this film is a hoot, especially Carrey who plays "Count Olaf" and then disguises himself by pretending to be other people throughout the story. Whomever he was playing he was hilarious. With his crazy persona, Carrey was good choice for this role. The lines he delivers are so hammy they make me just laugh out loud. I appreciated his work even more on the second viewing.
The kids are likable, good-looking and decent actors and the "baby" is given the funniest "lines" in the movie - all in subtitles.
This film is too dark for the little kids but fun for adolescents on up. There is almost no profanity in here and no sex. The sets are particularly strange and interesting, from the various houses to the clothing to the computer-enhanced scenery, with gorgeous colors. Make no mistake: this is a very pretty film with so many fascinating objects in here to view that even multiple viewings can't possibly pick them all up.
Obviously, there is a lot to like. I hope there is a sequel.
First of all, let me go on record saying that I think this is a
wonderfully entertaining film. The sets and costumes are perfect; even
the little details like the odd instruments on the car dashboard were
carefully thought through for their effect. Jim Carrey is perfect as
Count Olaf and his disguises, partially because he has always been
adept at creating convincing odd characters with his flexible face and
voice. The kids were likable, even the cute baby. Thomas Newman's score
is a quirky mix that's just right for the film. (I want to ask him if
there's a reason why one of his themes sounds like "We Three Kings"
gone awry.) I'm writing this comment primarily to respond to the wacky
criticisms of LEMONY that I've been reading here on IMDb. Most fall
into two categories: 1) people who don't "get" the movie and haven't
read the books (and therefore are offended by its dark tone), or 2)
adolescents who are obsessed with the books and are disappointed that
their little dreams of how the movie should be haven't been perfectly
realized (e.g., "the boy doesn't have glasses, so this movie stinks").
Let me address the second group. WAKE UP!! The Lemony Snicket books are a pre-packaged, heavily-marketed series that was deliberately created to appeal to your age group...the Harry Potterites. Unlike the history of J. Rowling and the Potter books, the Snicket books were the result of some money-mad marketing guru coming up with the idea and finding a writer to execute it.
The Snicket series is not "classic children's literature," although I must say that the actual author has done a fun job with the idea (yes, I have read several of the books, in case you're wondering). One Snicket book does NOT equal one Potter book in length or quality; therefore it's perfectly suitable that they put three Snickets together for this movie. The little gimmicks that made the early books amusing (the author's asides to define words, the translations of the baby's gurgles) become tediously annoying tics in the later books. And if you're going to have a tantrum because someone's hair isn't the color you imagined, or an actor is taller than you thought he should be, WELCOME TO THE REAL WORLD of movie adaptations! Perhaps if someone took liberties with Jane Austen, Dickens, or Tolstoy, it would be worth getting upset...but this is LEMONY SNICKET, for crying out loud! Read some real books for a change; not just cynically contrived kiddie lit designed to make big bucks with marketing deals and product tie-ins.
And to the first group I say...lighten up and read a couple of the Snicket books before you lament about the "dark tone," or the abuse of children, etc., etc. It's part of the joke, and one of the aspects of the books that the producers did a good job conveying on screen. In fact, the movie even softened the tone a bit with the touching flashbacks about the missing parents, building a "sanctuary," etc.
And what's with the wonderful, yet thrown-away closing credits? Seems to me these were made for the opening, but they realized that they would conflict with the "faux" Elf movie that starts the film. As someone else said, this is one of the most delightful parts of the film, but my son and I were the only ones who stayed to watch! DON'T LEAVE THE THEATER 'TIL IT'S OVER!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
How to make A movie off of such a series of thirteen books (eleven, at
the present), which are deceivingly simple, yet filled with so many
angles and hidden messages, symbolism, and very literary I will admit,
is definitely a challenge. So my hat is off to Brad Silberling (the
director), the screenwriter, Robert Gordon, and others for taking a
stab at it. For they came up with a very decent film, if not what I had
anticipated or hoped for.
That is because, in my opinion, they are the kind of books that if each reader were asked to write a screenplay for them or direct a film of the Series of Unfortunate Events, each person's version would almost certainly differ greatly. They are just those kind of books. Very broad and open to interpretation, in a sense.
I certainly expected the film to be much darker than it turned out to be - with its somewhat hopeful ending. That is the appeal of the books, after all, the overwhelming dreariness of the Baudelaire's cyclic circumstances.
The emphasis in this film seemed to be on the art - the costumes, sets, lighting, FX, properties, even the creative and amusing end credits (if you get the opportunity, sit through them). Visually it was a very strong film, a fantastic film to feast one's eyes upon.
Furthermore I enjoyed all the character parts, especially Meryl Streep as Aunt Josephine, and of course, Jim Carrey as the heinous and exceedingly repugnant (dare I type his name???) Count Olaf. I don't think the role of THE villain in Daniel Handler's tales could have been more perfectly cast. Jim Carrey IS Brett Helquist's illustration and Handler's monster come to life. Whenever there were shots of Count Olaf (Jim Carrey) with his face in close proximity to Violet, or Aunt Josephine, or anyone else, I kept thinking to myself "How can they stand being that close to him? How can they stand the foul odor that must be exuding from his sinister mouth?" Maybe I am too into these books...
I guess that's why I was disappointed with the majority of reviewers who reviewed this film. They obviously have never read the books, or they would not have complained about Carrey's performance being very show-offy, in-the-face, vain, egotistical, over-the-top, contrived, just too much to take, fake - THAT IS Count Olaf in the books. That IS exactly who he is. If only they could have know that and then perhaps they might have more enjoyed the film.
I think the film gave me an appreciation for the books that I didn't have before because of the fact they skipped over so many of the seemingly unimportant scenes, and altered many of the crucial ones.
Jude Law was a good choice as narrator. I was surprised that they introduced the V.F.D. already. My brother and I both agree that the opening sequence featuring the Littlest Elf was hilarious. For anyone who has read the books, they will probably find the film very different in flavor from the books, but readers and non-readers alike should enjoy the movie very much, in any case. It was a shame Sunny's character was used mostly as comic relief, but the twins who played her were absolutely adorable.
So there's some hodge-podge comments from an eager Canuck on the Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events movie.
The end credits is a ten minute long cartoon of such incredible beauty
that it is a great shame that most people will never watch it. Simply
its some of the best animation to come out all year.
While I can give the end credits a 10 out of 10 I can only give the rest of the film a begrudging 7 out of 10, although it should probably be a 6.5. Certainly this is a fantastically well made movie, that is for the most part very well acted but something is amiss in the tone of the film and so it never really is what it should be.
The story of three children who's parents are killed and who are forced from guardian to guardian by the murderous acts of Count Oloff is pretty bleak. And with a title like "A Series of Unfortunate Events" you really can't expect dancing elves, but the film makers have chosen to add a vein of madcap silliness to the proceedings that works against the rest of the film. It seems as if they were afraid that the material was going to be seen as too dark, which is a shame since its clear from the sequences where they left well enough alone that the film could have stood on its own.
Its a good movie, instead of the great one it wants to be.
Definitely worth seeing.
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