Theatrical Release Date: December 17, 2004(USA)
Music: Thomas Newman
Directed by Brad Silberling
Review by James Harper
On average, the chances that a movie will be good one, just by the numbers, is usually about one in five or so. And the chances that a movie will be great are somewhat slimmer. I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. It is put together in an intelligent fashion and flows very smoothly. And I strongly suggest that you should go see it before it is taken out of the theaters, which is very quick nowadays. This is a movie that will lose some of its charm if it is not seen on the big screen.
The plot deals with a set of orphans that have inherited a large sum of money and the attempts of Count Olaf to try and get the inheritance from the children. As you probably already know this story comes from a series of children’s books. The movie definitely has a dark tone, which is actually a breathe of fresh air, but the movie always has a sense of fun, but may not be a great choice for really young viewers if they scare easy. I loved it.
There are now a couple of movies that a family could go to and see together, “The Incredibles”, “The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie” or “The Polar Express”. On a side note if “The Polar Express” is showing in 3d near you anywhere near you go see it. The 3d effect is way past cool. Please put Lemony Snicket’s on that short list. I have always loved movies that are well made. With this particular movie all the cylinders are firing.
The cast is first rate. Jim Carey as Count Olaf could have overshadowed the rest of the cast, but this never happens. The focus always stays on moving the story along. Olaf gives Mr. Carey something to chew on, and I really liked that as Carey plays Olaf, he is almost gleefully evil, with no apologies given. Also there are a couple of shots where Jim Carey literally leans into the camera so that you are almost sure that his nose is going to push through the screen, a very nice touch. Jude Law, though it seems like he is in every movie released this year, has a voice that lends itself well to the movie. He pulls us in and sets the tone for the rest of the movie. Meryl Streep is probably the weakest choice in the movie, the character is just at odds with the type of character you think of Meryl Streep as playing. The children, there are three of them, are played by Emily Browning as the older sister, Liam Aiken as the younger brother, and twins, Kara and Shelby Hoffman, played the baby of the group. Emily Browning especially catches your eye, and might be someone to watch for in the future.
The real star of this show are the people that put together the sets, the special effects, and the sound. The special effects are blended into the rest of the movie in a very satisfying blend. If you like special effects you might want to check this out on that basis alone. The movie is packed with nice little touches throughout. The end credits are almost a mini movie in themselves. There are a lot of nice sly little touches, there were so many quick jokes on the screen that I am sure I did not catch them all and would need a second viewing . The soundtrack was written by Thomas Newman who, if you have been keeping track, has written some of the best scores of recent years. Have you heard the opening theme for “Six Feet Under”, “Finding Nemor”, or the soundtrack for “American Beauty” (I often listen to this at night but keep your eyes open if you try to find it, there are two CDs from American Beauty, the one that says Original Motion Picture Score is the one with Thomas Newman’s score on it)? If so then you have been exposed to the talent of Thomas Newman.