Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events

January 28, 2012 8 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

In “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events” we meet three children who have just lost their parents setting the mood for what could either be a very depressing movie or one that attempts to have humor instilled in it; thus making it a very dark comedy. Ok, I’m game…what’s next? Evidently the “Lemony Snicket” is a series of books much like “Harry Potter” and his classmates. I’m not much of a reader, so I approached the movie with an empty slate and not knowing what to expect. I do know that Jim Carrey was the perfect choice to play the eccentric Count Olaf – the man who is constantly trying to kill the children and get their inheritance. This isn’t exactly a children’s movie now, is it? Director Brad Silberling (“Moonlight Mile” and “City of Angels”) has assembled a visually stunning piece here. It lost out on two Academy Awards but did win one for Best Makeup. At any rate, let’s get to the plot…

The film focuses on three children, all endowed with some unique gift. Violet (Emily Browning) is able to invent most anything, especially when she ties her ribbon in her hair (it’ll make sense if you’ve seen the film), her brother Klaus (Liam Aiken) is a voracious reader with the ability to retain most anything that he’s read. This leaves us with the baby Sunny (Kara and Shelby Hoffman) who loves to bite things, so much that she can open cans or dangle off the end of a table. Her “baby talk” is also cleverly subtitled throughout the film. The children learn that their parents’ house had gone up in flames and their Mother and Father with it. Sentenced to live with their closest living relative, Count Olaf (Jim Carrey), the children quickly learn that he’s out for their inheritance and nothing more. The kids escape and manage to make it to another relative, Uncle Monty (Billy Connolly), a much nicer man but someone who falls victim to the count’s deception. They finally arrive at Aunt Josephine’s (Meryl Streep) “house” who is scared of everything but her own shadow. Will the kids escape Count Olaf and find happiness with a family or will they meet their demise just like their parents?

This is one of the most visually stunning movies and it’s really a shame that this didn’t win the Oscar for Art Direction. That said, I felt that though I enjoyed the film, there will most certainly be more (just like the “Harry Potter” movies). The movie featured a great cast and some good performances (Streep, as always, is in top form) with Carrey again being the perfect choice to showcase his over-acting (but he’s the best choice for a role like this). Additionally, there are some very adult issues dealt with here and I’m sure that kids have seen the movie, so I’m not sure if they made it too dark or not. I mean, if you’re not aiming at children’s demographic then who are you aiming at with a movie like this. When it’s all said and done, I enjoyed the movie and am sure that we haven’t seen the last of the “Lemony Snicket” films.

Video: How does it look?

I have to say that this movie looked outstanding on DVD. First off, this movie comes in two versions: A 2-disc Special Edition and a regular version with a few less features. The 2-Disc was reviewed here and I really couldn’t find anything that was less than perfect. The color palette is extremely muted and dreary, but it looked flawless. I didn’t see one bit of artifacting and one iota of anything resembling an error. The fleshtones looked amazing, the skin looked like porcelin. Truly Paramount has done a top notch job with the video quality here.

Audio: How does it sound?

The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is very active as well. I had to turn down the volume a few times during the film just so I didn’t get any noise complaints! Dialogue is very clean and natural and there are plenty of times that the surrounds kick in for some added ambiance. What impressed me the most was the LFE – they chime in at several points during the movie and make for a much more robust track. At times the track is very subtle, but when the time is right the sound kicks in and is amazing. Another fine effort here.

Supplements: What are the extras?

First of all, this movie is available in two versions: A Two Disc Special Edition (the one reviewed here) and a regular single disc presentation. The first disc of this release contains two commentary tracks by director Brad Silberling. Silberling gives a pretty informed track, full of plenty of insight and attention to detail (which obviously the movie had a lot of). We learn some things about the shoot and the casting as well. It’s a good track, but only hard core fans will want to listen to it. The second track contains Silberling again and author Daniel Handler (or should we call him “Lemony Snicket”). This is a more light-hearted track that borders on annoying, but it’s obviously geared for the more causal viewer, er…listner. I’d listen to the first track over the second, but each has its own entertainment value. The rest of this disc contains some deleted scenes and an alternate ending to boot. There are a few outtakes (which words can’t describe) and some make up tests featuring Jim Carrey.

The second disc contains more of the standard “Making Of…” featurettes that show the production almost literally from the ground up. We see sketches, drawings of the sets and how they were constructed. If you’re one who loves to see a process, you’ll enjoy these featurettes. There is a rather interesting feature that lets you remix some recorded tracks from the film. Odd, but a unique feature. There’s also some information on Special Effects and a photo gallery. All in all, I think true fans of the movie will want to pick up this DVD though I’m sure the single disc contains more than enough. I’m assuming that the single disc looks as great as this and if not, this is certainly the one to get.

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