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Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (SE)
DVD disk
Apr 26, 2005 By: Quigles
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (SE) order
Director:
Brad Silverling

Actors:
Jim Carrey
Liam Aiken
Emily Browning

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
After the tragic death of their parents in a fire, the three Baudelaire children are forced to live with their “closest” (a word which here refers to distance) relative. The three kids include Klaus (who loves to read), Violet (who loves to invent), and little Sunny (who loves to bite things). Then we have the devious relative, Count Olaf, who only cares about getting his grubby hands on the kids’ fortune. Be forewarned, the following review is extremely unpleasant, and if you were expecting an ecstatic review involving a happy little elf, you are very much mistaken.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Hot damn this is a fun film! While it may not be the type of award-winning drama that is praised worldwide, it does have 100% entertainment and plenty of eye-candy to boot. Lets start off with style, which the film flaunts like no other. Filmed almost entirely on stages, the movie combines CGI, bizarre buildings, wicked designs, slick directing, and terrific costumes; all of which amounts to... coolness up the wazoo! (What the hell is a wazoo anyway?) Just as great are many of the actors, some of which are hilariously over-the-top, fitting in perfectly with other aspects of the film. Firstly, we have Meryl Streep, who nailed the role and was much more fun to listen too than the novel’s version of the character Aunt Josephine (yes, I have the read the books).

Next up I’d like to mention that Jude Law was terrific as the narrator and certainly put fear in my heart when he mentioned the horrors of “Italian food”. Timothy Spall was also perfectly cast as Mr. Poe, the high-class banker who just won’t listen to the kids. Saving the best for last, we have Jim Carrey, who is one of my favorite actors of all time, so it’s no wonder I dug his crazy antics here. Whenever he was present, the screen lit up with mucho energy, and it was impossible not to love him being such a funny asshole (or is it just me?). On a minor note though, the book’s version of Count Olaf is much more evil-feeling and much less funny, so there was a huge contrast in that sense. Then again, the movie uses creative license to its full advantage and changes tons of stuff, so if you can get over that, you’ll be fine.

Now then, seeing as I’ve praised this film like crazy, I bet you’re all curious on why I only gave it 3.5 out of 5 stars (or maybe not... either way, I’m gonna tell you). I don’t know how much of the following will annoy other viewers, but they sure bugged me enough to knock the film down a few stars. While the kids in the movie are decent, they nowhere near compare to the greatness of Carrey, and thus lack the energy to carry the film by themselves. Another acting nitpick involved the minor role of Cedric the Entertainer, who felt extremely out of place and pissed me off whenever I saw him. A more important issue was the disjointed feel of the movie, which is due in large part to the combination of three different books. Moving at a rapid pace, we switch from story to story without warning, occasionally interrupted by some moments of campiness.

And since we are on the subject of the three storylines, it’s also worth mentioning that there are a bunch of great mysteries I remember from the books that, having been presented on screen, now felt dull and uninspired. My final minor complaint involves some of the CGI, which although looked cool, at times was way too noticeable and distracting. Despite my annoyances, when you add it all up, the good in the movie overcomes the bad. If you’re a fan of the book and aren’t nitpicky, you’ll surely enjoy this flick, but even if you’re not, there’s not much better than watching Jim Carrey playing an weird Italian guy trying to milk a snake (don’t ask, just watch it).
THE EXTRAS
NOTE: There are two different version of the movie available for purchase, which is what I wish most DVDs would have. There’s the regular version (not reviewed), and the Special Edition (reviewed here). The difference is that the Special Edition includes a second disc, some cool packaging, and the novel for the first storyline (which was split into two for the film). Let’s explore this juicy material...

DISC 1:

Bad Beginnings:

Building a Bad Actor (12:46): Discusses the process with Jim Carrey coming to life as Count Olaf. Overall, it’s pretty interesting and somewhat cool, but also a little on the long side.
Making the Baudelaire Children Miserable (3:05): A quickie extra that lightly touches on the kid’s process, similar to that of the previous featurette. Short and simple.
Interactive Olaf (9:18): A nifty featurette that lets us see four different sides of Carrey simultaneously (they used the footage for makeup and costume tests). You can switch between the audio while watching, and the effect is pretty cool. Alarming Audio Commentaries:
With director Brad Silberling: A very informative and engaging commentary, and that’s the best kind there is. A must listen for fans.
With Silberling and the real Lemony Snicket: Some may find this a riot, but I found it humorous for about ten minutes before getting quickly bored. Basically, this is a joke commentary as if the book’s author is constantly getting horrified at how they could take such an awful story and portray it on screen as a kid’s film. Something to take note of is the fact that the novel’s narrator and “author” is called Lemony Snicket, but his real name is Daniel Handler.

Orphaned Scenes:

Dismal Deletions (14:21 – 11 of them): Some of these are great, and some are pretty lame. Overall, worth it for the good stuff. I especially liked the rock-throwing contraption Violet made (which was in the book, but not in the film).
Obnoxious Outtakes (14:35 – 5 of them): It says five, but there are way more. They basically separate them by content and scene. While not hilarious, still worth checking out.

There are also Previews.

DISC 2:

A Terrible Tragedy:

A Woeful World (54:30): A super in-depth featurette that willingly welcomes us to explore the real world of SNICKET. Entertaining and well made; A definite watch for fans of making-of featurettes.
Costumes and Other Suspicious Disguises (16:42): Another cool featurette that involves the sweet costumes from the flick. If you’re into designing, this is for you.
Violet’s Functional Designs (10:40): Not too long, but shows just how hard some people worked on things I never even noticed. All of Violet’s cool inventions are explained, and the secrets behind them are revealed.
CAUTION! Incredibly Deadly Vipers (8:48): Liked The Reptile Room from the movie? Then you’ll like this even better. There’s even some stuff for the computer geeks (like me) explaining the CGI snake.
The Sad Score (13:35): I truly feel that movies can be either fully enhanced or completely ruined by the music presented, and in the case of SNICKET, the music was perfect. That said, I was happy to find this featurette here involving it.

Volume, Frequency, Decibels:

The Unsound Sound Designer (13:01): Wow! They destroyed an entire house simply to get good sounds for The Wide Window section of the film. This alone should convince you to watch this surprisingly interesting extra.
You Probably Shouldn’t Listen to These: On this part of the DVD, we get a very unique and incredibly cool extra. The first is called Tree, Meet House and the second is called The Terrible Train. Tree, Meet House lets us hear what a tree crashing onto a house sounds like from seven different locations (especially good if you have surround sound). The Terrible Train gives us the chance to enjoy the complex sound for the train sequence by playing each aspect of it separately (such as only playing the sound for the engine, horn, etc).

Sinister Special Effects:

An Alarming Conspiracy Involving Sunny (6:20): Having the baby character Sunny caused a few problems, so they made a robot version of her to partially resolve them. Talk about creepy... that thing freaked me out ten times more than that wimpy CHILD’S PLAY doll Chucky.
An Even More Alarming Conspiracy Involving Sunny (20:20): What better way to complement a creepy robot baby than with a creepy CGI version of the same baby? Seriously, this stuff is nightmare inducing. And while that may be true, it’s also very interesting. I’m just waiting until we have the ability to create completely flawless computer generated people.
The Terrible Fire (5:51): Seeing as how this section of extras is about special effects, this short featurette concerns, that’s right, the fire. Or rather, the mansion ruins created by the fire. I didn’t even realize how hard they worked to create an identical mansion to contrast the real one... the only difference being it was ashes and rubble. Very cool indeed.
Trains, Leeches, and Hurricanes (9:20): Another enjoyable extra that reveals how they made various sequences involving CGI, including the train sequence, the scene with the leeches, and the one where the house falls apart.

Gruesome Galleries:

Shadowy Stills: Blah... a boring picture gallery. Nothing special.
A Woeful World: This is a bit better. We get to check out some cool artwork.
Costumes & Other Suspicious Disguises: This also includes artwork, but is more for reference of clothing and color, so it doesn’t look as pretty. Skip it.

Miscellaneous:

The Bad Beginning: What better addition to a DVD Special Edition than the book it’s based on, right? Well, for some maybe. There will be many out there who could care less, such as those who already have it or those who hate reading. I like the idea though. To fully complete this though, you also need the two other stories (The Reptile Room and The Wide Window).

Packaging: On the Special Edition, there’s a cool slipcase that perfectly holds both the book and the DVD. There’s even a cool opening cover with character pictures.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Fun, fun, fun! Those are the best words I can think of to sum up this great DVD set. The 2-disc Special Edition has an OUTSTANDING collection of features, which kicks the overall value up a notch, not to mention the movie itself has great re-watch value, so that helps too. Sure, it has its flaws, but so do most other movies, and as long as you don’t get overly critical, you’ll probably have a blast.
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