A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)

So I understand the new rave over the Netflix original programme on ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’, but in my opinion, the film outshines it. Obviously, the books are the best, having the film and programme being sourced from them, and maybe it’s because I watched the film first, but the film will always be one of my favourites. If you’re unaware of the books, film or even the programme, then this review will focus on the film, but I’ll start from the plot, just in case you are unfamiliar with them all.

The film is based on the first three books, whereas the programme will go through all the books, there are 13; so maybe if you want to know all the adventures, the books and the programme might be better. However, this doesn’t make a difference to the film personally, yes there is a different ending and some parts are slightly different, but the film is the interpretation of the books and a film that is always going to be one film needs an ending, and this one does.

A Series of Unfortunate Events - kids and Po

So what is ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ even about? The film revolves around the Baudelaire orphans, Violet (Emily Browning), a 14 year old inventor who believes “there’s always something”, Klaus (Liam Aiken), the only boy who memorises every book he reads, and finally the youngest, the toddler, Sunny (Kara and Shelby Hoffman), a biter who can bite anything with her “four sharp teeth”. Straight away we are informed by Mr Poe (Timothy Spall – recognisable as Peter Pettigrew in ‘Harry Potter’), that the children’s parents have died in a fire and ultimately this opens up to many secrets that the children didn’t know about their parents and the series of unfortunate events begin. The children then jump from guardian to guardian, starting with the villain of the film. Count Olaf. Now Count Olaf is played by Jim Carrey, compared to the programme where Olaf is played by Neil Patrick Harris, they are both very different personalities despite being the same character. Harris’ Olaf is very much a villain, and more accurate to the books, more serious; although, Carrey’s Olaf is more comical in a way, over-exaggerated in the brilliant way Carrey plays his characters. I think it does work in the film, and I suppose this is what makes the film so different to the books or the programme, but again I wouldn’t say this is a bad thing at all! The audience are quick to recognise that Olaf doesn’t actually want to look after the children but in fact his interest lies in their rich inheritance instead.

Film Title: Lemony Snicket's: A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Similar in all three mediums of ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’, there is a narrator in the film. The narrator talks to the audience directly in the background. Straight away the first thing he mentions is that the story is not a happy one, that we should leave the film, turn it off and never come back to it. Of course this draws the audience in more closely, a clever aspect you don’t see in many films. The narrator is Lemony Snicket, played by Jude Law. Lemony Snicket is a character in which prevents scary aspects for children as this is a film for younger ages, but obviously enjoyable for all. Although, there are some tense scenes where Olaf goes to extremes for the orphan’s fortune, but it is cleverly done to want to be watched all the way through. There is also a mystery element all the way through the film, the secrets that never fully become unwrapped. Who were their parents? Why was there a fire? What is this spyglass?

There are many recognisable actors in this film and they are all played so excellently. Other than the ones I’ve already mentioned, there is Billy Connolly as the snake-obsessed Uncle, Meryl Streep who plays a woman petrified of irrational things, and Catherine O’Hara as Justice Strauss. Additionally, Violet, Klaus and Sunny are played well. So the actors is not something to be looked down upon, they make the film that much better.

A Series of Unfortunate Events - Olaf's Car

Ultimately, the film is a very different children’s film to many others but shouldn’t be disregarded. I find it a brilliant film, with all the elements of the film perfectly executed. Like I’ve mentioned before, Jim Carrey is fantastic, but he always makes his characters his own and they are all great, this one is no different. I would recommend this film, it is different to the programme and books, but personally so much better. It is a brilliant film and should be watched.


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