Thursday, January 20, 2005
Title: Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
Cast: Jim Carrey, Emily Browning, Liam Aiken, Meryl Streep, Billy Connolly, Timothy Spall, Kara/Shelby Hoffman
The series of Unfortunate Events is what could likely be the first of a series of films based on what I believe are 11 novels so far by Lemony Snicket. This film taking in parts from the first 3 of those novels. Coming from 3 novels might explain why the film has a certain episodic feel, something which some people have picked up on. But for me, even taking that on board, the film does manage to flow reasonably well as a whole.
The Baudelaire children have had a lovely upbringing. Which has allowed Violet to dabble and experiment as an inventor. For Klaus to access an ample library, from which he can remember any fact he has ever read. As for Sunny, the youngest of the three, well biting is her thing. But when the first of the series of unfortunate events comes about, their lives are turned around. One day their home is burned down while they are out, killing their parents and destroying everything.
Which sees them put into the custody of an uncle they have never met. The evil Count Olaf, a self indulgent and manipulative man, who aspires to be an actor, and is only interested in the children for the large inheritance associated with them. Life under his guardianship is indeed unfortunate, which forces the children to seek an alternate situation. Though as they manage this, they are plagued by an ongoing series of unfortunate events, with Count Olaf and his machinations stalking their lives.
Jim Carey takes on the part of Count Olaf, and does so with his most over the top manner. Carey is an actor who has made his career from being over the top. Though ironically his best roles have been the more toned down and serious parts – The Truman Show and Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind being the obvious examples. The more over the top material is the kind that splits the audience, generally for me I am not a fan. However in the context of the role of Count Olaf, Carey actually pulls over the top off in a way that works – the fact that the character has the desire to be an actor, and is allowed to go through extensive a makeovers for each new plot of course helps.
The rest of the cast sees the introduction of young actors Emily Browning and Liam Aiken, who on the basis of this film are likely to become names to watch – Browning in particular is creating a buzz, and there is something about her that reminds me of Christina Ricci in her early roles. The third of the children is played by Kara and Shelby Hoffman, a part which is enhanced by subtitles, and computer graphics (the scene with the snake perhaps being a little too blatantly CGI). Other than Carey, the other guardians are played by Meryl Streep a bumbling old woman who is afraid of everything, and Billy Connolly a great adventurer who is obsessed with snakes.
Looking at Brad Silberling’s, the director of the film, past record, one can’t say there is much worth remarking on – the remake of Win Wenders City Of Angels and some TV stuff. The look and feel of Lemony Snicket’s Series Of Unfortunate Events has garnered comparisons to the work of director Tim Burton. With Siberling having apparently worked as a junior to Burton at some earlier point in his career, then perhaps that comparison makes sense. For me, Burton is a director who is often raved about with regard to his distinctive visual style, while that style is at the expense of actual content and substance. With that in mind, Siberling seems to surpass Burton in that there is a definite and particular visual style, which gives the film a sense of vibrancy, but there is also a certain amount of substance that comes across from the work, at least on a first viewing.
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