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I enjoyed it, but not as much as i hoped i would. Carrey had his moments, but the material wasn't the best for him. The three kids were adorable and spot-on in their portrayals, and the set-pieces were imaginative.
Sadly, the movie played like a series of set-pieces, it lacked a certain coherence.
I don't think it's the episodic nature of the script that seals this movie's doom, although the script leaves a lot to be desired. The lack of coherence is mostly because the director has failed to capture the playfully macabre, teasing tone of the books. There's no such kick in the movie and therefore it just plods along, coasting on visual design.
Count Olaf should have been a sensationally fun movie villain role - the fun is how he can fool adults but never the children, and how his vanity and ego lead him to flirt dangerously with being exposed at every turn. Instead, the movie makes him obvious and doesn't create any suspense as he is foiled repeatedly by the extraordinarily resourceful children. In short, Jim Carrey is the wrong kind of ham for this part.
I didn't like how you could tell where one book ended and the next picked up. The "acts" felt as though they were completely compartmentalized rather than a single story. It didn't flow smoothly and felt almost random in storyline. It could have been better. Even having not read any of the books, it is still quite clear that they tried to jam too much into one film, the character depth is missing and it seems like what would have made the story enjoyable did not quite get entirely translated to the script. Entertaining? Yes; A classic? No.
We did not feel this was Carreys best work, although the 3 kids in this movie are stellar, even the infant, she steals the movie better than Jim does at times. They were worth seeing the movie, IMHO. NOT a movie for young kids, IMHO.
This was a film where they had everything nailed but the script. Cast, look, score were all wonderful, but they just didn't seem to know how to make the story work. Still, worth seeing for all the good things in it. And stay for the end credits - they are superb.
I saw it a few days ago, and although the scenery, makeup, costumes were great, I didn't care for the story all that much. When it ended, most of the audience and myself hung around wondering "Is that it?" Like previous posts, the kids were great, but I only found myself laughing at Baby Sunny. The next day I saw Finding Neverland and thought it was much better than Lemony.
I read the first book, just out of curiosity, in the last week, and really enjoyed it. So I went out, bought the next two, read them, loved them, bought and read the fourth, and today I bought the fifth and sixth books. They really are some of the most enjoyable examples of humour writing I have read in a long time. Thoroughly recommended to anyone of any age - well, any age above say 7 years old. Unfortunately, I don't think the film really managed to get across the humour of the writing - ineviable really, the film would have to be fully narrated to get the writing voice of Lemony Snicket across fully.
While they tried hard, and did a reasonable job in adaptation, sadly it wasn't good enough. It really was overly compressed. I was quite excited when the train thing happened, as I thought they had abandoned the marriage ending from the original book (the one thing I didn't love about the books), and was disappointed when they brought it back at the end of the film.
I also wasn't too happy with the whole mystery element, which was not in the books (or at least, not in the books I've read so far). It detracted from the point of the story - which is the kids trying to stay away from Count Olaf.
I didn't like Jim Carrey as Count Olaf. When I read the books, I thought Carrey was perfect casting. I could see him playing the role as written, and being excellent. However, it would take some restraint. Unfortunately, the director didn't seem to want to control Carrey, and we got too much of a standard Carrey performance that diminshed Olaf as a truly threatening villain.
All this sounds like I didn't like the film, but I did. Other than Carrey, I thought performances were all perfect - and the kids really do have a bright acting career ahead of them. The film's design was astonishing, beautiful, wonderful, exactly what I had imagined. My main problem, as for most of the people in this thread, was with the actual process of turning the books into a story for a film - and to be honest, I found my enjoyment of the books carried into the film, filling in the blanks, and probably made it more better than it would have been had I not read the books.
So I enjoyed watching it. But I can understand people not. All I can say is, if you didn't enjoy the films, don't let it stop you from reading the books - which really are laugh-out-loud funny in a macabre way.
What I would really love, and what would be perfect, would be to wait until the final two books are finished, and then make a TV series of 13 hour-long, or 90-minute-long, episodes - one for each book. That would give enough time to really tell each story, have the character development needed, bring in a bit more narration from Snicket. It would also reduce the episodic feel that we get from the film. That would, I think, be the best way to handle the adaptation of the books. Of course, that sadly will not happen.
I agree to a certain extent. Sometimes he was a little too over-the-top. There were times, tho, that I did think he did capture the menance he represents. A little bit more subtlty would have been good.
That being said, I do think the movie was good enough to get me interested in reading the books.
In the books, you get the impression Olaf is very much an incredibly arrogant ham actor, but he gets away with it just because every adult is so damned stupid as to not see through his disguise, and that is something I think Carrey could have portayed very well. At the same time, I don't see him as this eyebrow twitching comic character. While I agree with you that he did, at times, get across the menace of the character, it was to a degree undercut by the fact that he seemed to be played for laughs much of the time. Sadly.
Now, I'm currently reading the fifth book, The Austere Academy, and the Vice-Principal of the school is definitely crying out for a Carrey-type performance. The character is a bad violinist, constantly mocking, capricious. If they were to make a film including that book, you'd have the main villain (Olaf) and the sub-villain (VP Nero) giving very similar performances - which wouldn't work.
Incidentally, if they do make a second film (and I have heard that they are working on it), it may be wise for them to skip book 4 (which they would have difficulty with anyway, as the book revolves around Kraus's need for glasses) and go to books 5, 6 and 7. While I haven't quite finished 5, it seems from a brief glance that there is actually a strong storyline going through those three books involving two triplets that could ease the episodic feel of the first film. So that could be interesting.
Jason - I'm sure you'll enjoy the books. I think that's another reason I can't hold too much against the film - it finally got me to read the books.
Fairy tales have always been dark and gloomy. Lemony Snicket perhaps more than most, but it is alleviated by humour. Perhaps that's why, when the blacker macabre humour of Snicket's writing was lost in the film, they decided to get Carrey to play Olaf as he did - to bring in a bit of humour to alleviate the blackness.
Hansel and Gretel were abandoned by their parents because they couldn't afford to be fed. They then run into a witch that tries to eat them. Compared to that story, Lemony Snicket is light.
Part of the point of the story is that things don't always go well. There's not always a happy ending. We don't live in a world with the Happiest Elf making everything okay (that was a great opening, by the way). Sometimes, life just sucks. There are kids out there that go through things much worse than what the Baudelaire children go through, things that I could never imagine going through. What is life like for those kids that lost their parents to the tsunami? What is life like for kids that are abused every day? And even if you don't have to endure those types of awful situations, there will be times where life will just be hard and there is no easy solution to your problems. And stories like this manage to say that that is okay, and when life gets hard it is worth looking for those little moments of happiness to help you get through your porblems. And that's a good thing.
I certainly wouldn't recommend the film or books to any really young children. Nor would it be healthy for a child to focus solely on Snicket-style entertainment - happy stories are important too. But, if they're old enough to understand the concepts in the story, it's a good thing for kids to watch and read.
If you like nice reviews then stop right here and go and find another more cheerful thread, because this review is not for you. I hated the film and I hate the books. Several reasons for this loathing:
(1) I find the books and the film unbelievably patronising. 'If you want something cheerful, then look elsewhere' [or whatever - I'm not going to waste valuable time looking up the exact quotation]. Sorry? As far as I'm aware it's for me to decide what I find cheerful, I don't want someone telling me what I should think and feel. I hated this sort of narration when I was a kid, and I ain't taking it now I'm an adult.
(2) The characters are all one-dimensional. The kids don't gain anything from their adventures except greater knowledge, Count Olaf remains evil, the lawyer remains stupid. Jim 'one note' Carey is thus perfect for the role of Count Olaf. Oh, and a piece of Brit slang for you - if you want to know the definition of 'smartarse' then those three kids are perfect exemplars.
(3) There is no real plot development. The books and film can be summarised thus. Orphaned kids placed in care of a relative. Count Olaf kills relative but is foiled in his attempts to kill the kids because of sister's inventions, brother's memory and baby's biting. Repeat ad nauseum. This tedious little formula is predictable from the start and frankly does not grow on you. It might be redeemed if there was some character development, but, as already noted, not a chance.
(4) A large part of the 'humour' relies on the comedy of frustration, and in particular the failure of adults to see what is taking place. This would be fine if any of the scenarios were plausible, but they're not, pure and simple. Even in the silliest plot, there has to be some psychological realism, and there's none. And all through this is a patronising adult telling you how you should be feeling. Well the only feeling I had was an urge to track down Lemony Snicket and make use of your country's very lax gun laws ...
I should say in the interests of balance (of a sort) that my nine years-old daughter loved the film. Equally, she thinks that Fairly Odd Parents is the best TV show *ever*. I'd strongly suggest that unless you can agree with her statement, then stay away from this movie.
I found this movie interesting, and kind of "artsie", but at the same time it didn't find the high mark it was looking for story wise, they tried as hard as they could to make a great story, but it just putters along, and really the only highlight is looking a Carrey and thinking how much of a genius he is in the way he delves into characters and makes them his own. My personal highlight of the movie is when the house is falling off the cliff and my SVS sub kicked in and shook the whole damn floor! Just came out of nowhere to do it, then went back to being somewhat polite until the end credit music, and I turned it down cause it was late. I give lemony snicket's 3.5 out of 5. It's worth seeing for Carrey fans, but that's all.