Netflix’s adaptation of the beloved (but terrible) tale of Lemony Snicket’s A Series Of Unfortunate Events (ASOUE), directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, Mark Palansky, and Bo Welch, came out earlier this month. Our verdict? It’s all you could ever hope for from an adaption of the series – and more.
In case you haven’t pored over all 13 books, the story follows the Baudelaire children: clever and promising inventor Violet (played by Malina Weissman), avid reader Klaus (Louis Hynes), and their infant sister Sunny, who has very sharp teeth which often come in very handy. The series is narrated by Lemony Snicket himself, played by Patrick Warburton.
At the beginning of a very unhappy story, the Baudelaire parents die when their mansion is burned down, leaving behind their three children and a very large fortune that can only be accessed when Violet – the oldest of the three Baudelaire orphans – comes of age. They are transferred into the care of their closest living relative, Count Olaf (Neil Patrick Harris), the villain of our story, who tries to steal their fortune. He’s their closest living relative simply because he lives just five kilometres away. It’s a bad beginning for a very perilous journey for our three heroes.
Even if you haven’t read a single page of the ASOUE books, you’ll find the television series – the first season covers the first four books – gripping from the start and full of suspense, although the mysteries may not be immediately solved. Unlike the books, the Netflix show introduces some characters earlier despite having nothing more than perhaps a passing mention in the books. This gives fans the chance to see names they know fleshed out, drawing them in from the very beginning.
Although you don’t need to have read the novels in order to enjoy the television series, even a quick half-hour browse of the book summaries on Wikipedia is enough to ramp up the thrill factor. And if you are a hardcore Snicket fan? There are so many tense scenes and exciting moments that you’ll still be left on the edge of your seat, even if you know the whole story by heart.
Netflix has taken what readers have envisioned in their minds for years and successfully transported it onto the small screen (and yes we know there was the 2004 movie but this is so much better) and made it a visual masterpiece.
The Baudelaire orphans wear light-coloured clothing that hints at their goodness and innocence, and the bad guys wear dark, muddy-looking colours. The area in which the kids live is bright and colourful, with clear blue skies – except the vicinity of Count Olaf’s house, which is bleak, with an overcast, grey look to it.
Credit has to be given to the make-up team who have transformed Neil Patrick Harris into the crooked-nosed Count Olaf. He’s barely recognisable as playboy Barney Stinson of American sitcom How I Met Your Mother.
Unlike the 2004 film, the Netflix series feels “more complete”.
With so much more time in which to tell a story, the writers have been able to build up to major events with better pacing and more details, giving the series a richer, more intricate feel. And, if you’ve already gone through the first season like we have, there have been hints and references that nod to a deeper and darker tale than the already very deep and dark story that unfolded before us. What that is exactly, we will have to wait for another season to find out.
If you haven’t already binge-watched the first ASOUE television series, what are you waiting for? Check it out on Netflix now.