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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
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Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
PG
Cast
Jim Carrey
Meryl Streep
Jude Law
Billy Connolly
Timothy Spall
Jennifer Coolidge.
Directors
Brad Silberling.
Screenwriters
Daniel Hadler
Robert Gordon.
Running Time
103 minutes

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Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
Adaptation of the blackly humorous children's books.


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Plot
When their parents are killed in a mysterious fire, the Baudelaire children - Violet (Browning), Klaus (Aiken) and baby Sunny (Kara and Shelby Hoffman) - are sent to live with their nearest relative the villainous Count Olaf (Carrey).


Review
With no Harry Potter or Lord Of The Rings to bring fantastic seasonal cheer to multiplexes, the mantle of Big Christmas Film is this year passed to yet another adaptation of a kid-friendly book, namely the works of elusive author Lemony Snicket (actually San Franciscan scribe Daniel Handler).

This gloomy children's book series by Daniel Handler has been quietly gaining a worldwide following among both children and grown-ups, with 11 books (of a planned 13) having hit the shelves in the time it takes JK Rowling to sharpen her pencil. Brad Silberling's big-screen Snicket surpasses the early Potters, bolstered by a set of memorable performances and its atmospheric, Burtonesque visuals.

Silberling sets the tone early on, with a bizarrely brilliant opening sequence, and thanks to the ensuing blend of twisted comedy and tense set-pieces, offers much to enjoy thereafter. He's also smart and disciplined enough let the movie belong to its terrific child leads, rather than allowing it to become a runaway Jim Carrey vehicle. Not that Carrey's that restrained. As the vain, murderous and terrible-disguise-wearing Olaf, his performance will neither let down his fans or his detractors - it's guaranteed to delight and irritate in equal measures.

The film does suffer from a patchy, episodic script, though, which is a real shame given the florid style of the books. Scripter Robert Gordon shoehorns in the events of the first three novels, and it does make for an uneven tone. The sequences with Billy Connolly's Uncle Monty, while an important part of the saga on the page, do little to advance the action here, while Streep is so good as the neurotic Aunt Josephine you wish she had more to do. Other supporting players - including Luis Guzman and Jennifer Coolidge - are so underused you almost wonder why they bothered to sign on in the first place.

Still, Snicket-heads will naturally be thrilled to see their heroes recreated so deftly and vividly; the production design and costumes stay true to the spirit of the book and are impossible to fault. Those who have become accustomed to more epic Yuletide fare over the past few years may be harder to convince, but if you sit back, relax and just accept it for what it is - an enjoyable, escapist Gothic pantomime - you will go home happy.


Verdict
Silberling does a good job of introducing Snicket to the big screen in an impressive adaptation thatÆs always smart, even if itÆs rarely spectacular.


Reviewed by Caroline Westbrook


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Average user rating for Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
Empire Star Rating

A really good film with great performances (Carrey was brilliant) and cameos and a great feel all over. A children's film that didn't try to pander to the lowest common denominator and managed to be really funny and a little dark. It's a real shame the planned sequels never got made. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Workshed at 23:08, 29 August 2012 | Report This Post


Amazing. Jim Carrey is just fantastic, and the whole setting is whole Tim Burton-esque. This is just fabulous! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by nc_jj at 21:56, 07 January 2011 | Report This Post


A Series Of Unfortunate Events: Brilliant!

I loved the books so when the film came out it had to be watched and I have to say it was one of the most impressive adaptations ever! It followed the original books very closely with expectations that unnecessary bits would be cut. I would have liked to see some sequels but as of yet still none. Very good film with a great all star cast. Must see for lovers of the books. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by LUCASLITTLEWOOD at 18:14, 11 July 2010 | Report This Post


A Series Of Unfortunate Events: Brilliant!

I loved the books so when the film came out it had to be watched and I have to say it was one of the most impressive adaptations ever! It followed the original books very closely with expectations that unnecessary bits would be cut. I would have liked to see some sequels but as of yet still none. Very good film with a great all star cast. Must see for lovers of the books. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by LUCASLITTLEWOOD at 17:56, 11 July 2010 | Report This Post


sequel?

A really really good film, very underrated in my opinion. The cast is fantastic, particularly Jimmy, Mezza and Emily. Wish there was a sequel! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by england_cmr at 19:41, 29 June 2009 | Report This Post


A Terrific Family Picture

Being a fan of the books, I was looking forward to the film version of A Series of Unfortunate Events. And whilst it wasn't flawless (under-used characters, slightly episodic feel to the proceedings), I still believe that it ranks alongside the first two Harry Potter films and the first Chronicles of Narnia film as a fantastic family movie. With brilliant acting (especially from a spot-on Jim Carrey and the wonderful child performers), clever direction from Brad Silberling and exceptional techni... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ben Lee at 12:30, 08 January 2009 | Report This Post


Fabouluse Family Entertainment

A stunning and very entertaining family film with a fabouluse tale and a excellent performance from Jim Careey ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by mrdoom14 at 18:27, 25 June 2007 | Report This Post


Stunning

Having never read the books, i was dubious about watching this, but it was a truly enjoyable film, shot beautifully, and with suprisingly good child leads. Jim Carrey was amazing as Count Olaf, and the screen tests on DVD just prove his genius. A particularly enjoyable performance as Stephano. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by swordsandsandals at 13:42, 29 August 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events

this film was a great movie to watch with the family, and when the children start to laugh there pretty little heads off when jim carrey gets going, it's infectious, and you can't help but laugh. The acting by the children was superb, i couldn't fault it. jim carrey was jim carey, but a jim carrey at his best. The story was pretty good, and the narration was flawless the whole basis of the comedy is based on the way the story is told. If you haven't seen this movie, then do because there a... More

Posted by heartbreak_k1d20025 at 10:10, 03 January 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events

I really enjoyed it, much more than the Harry Potter films. I thought they had a real peril to them, if I hadn't read the books I think I probably would have thought the main characters were about to die at any second. The production design and the realisation of Lake Lacrimose in particular were fabulous. ... More

Posted by doubleshiny at 19:40, 01 January 2006 | Report This Post


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