Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events 2-Disc Special Collector's Edition(Paramount Home Entertainment, 4.26.2005)
Without a doubt, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events is a good-looking film (and DVD). Admittedly, I was initially somewhat discouraged by the film's seemingly Tim Burton-light texture and tone. The film definitely channels Burton's atmospheric sensibilities and perhaps director Brad Silberling (Moonlight Mile, Casper) could have done an even better job adapting the whole batch of Snicket books into a single condensed narrative. But what we get is worthwhile, nonetheless.
Silberling does a fine job as director. To boot, the cast is positively delightful, even scene-chewing Jim Carrey, back to his anti-Eternal Sunshine over-acting. In this case -- a children's film -- the result is more than less charming, even though Carrey seems to be recycling some of his material (see Carrey imitate a T-Rex for the umpteenth time). Whatever, it's probably the kids' first time seeing it, so no harm done. And this surely isn't the abysmal Bruce Almighty Carrey either.
For fans of the novels, I'm sure there's gonna be some Snicket hatin'. The first book has apparently been chopped in half and the next two books are now sandwiched in between. Also, Carrey is a stretch from the novelized Count Olaf. However, for the Snicket novice, the film and its ostentatious Olaf should certainly please. But for the adult reading fan-base (who's this film being made for anyway...oh yeah, kids), there's definitely some source material slaughter that may be hard to overcome.
The film has recently been released in two formats: a one-disc set and a more extra-laden two-discer. Disc one on the two-discer -- or the sole disc on the one-discer -- contains 2 audio commentaries. The first, by Siberling, is wonderfully informative and upbeat. The second commentary comes from Siberling and the real Lemony Snicket (actually author Daniel Handler giving his best Olaf impression). This track starts off funny but ends up being kinda one-note. Handler incessantly asks when the film will be over and why anyone would want to work on such a vile, cynical film. We get the irony but do we really need two hours of it.
Also included on the first disc are featurettes on all those big name actors and those cute, little, unfortunate Baudelaire children. There's also some Carrey shtick, enlightening deleted scenes, and some amusing outtakes. Not bad for a single disc release that also boasts excellent audio and flawless video.
The two-disc set is a bit pricier but you'd be foolish not to get it. The "extra" extras include making-of stuff, special effects stuff, sound stuff, and photo galleries. This may sound like a short list but each of these has several sub-segments that are extensive and, most importantly, of good quality. This is indeed informative and entertaining stuff.
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events is a good movie made great with the help of an excellent DVD package. Great extras, a/v, changeable menu designs -- sub-par cover art, though -- make this a winning DVD and a solid purchase for the whole family to enjoy and re-enjoy. Be sure to stick around for the film's closing credits (actually, the opening credits are at the end), which in fact look and sound better than the film itself. And they're better than anything Tim Burton's done in a loooooong time. -- Neil Karassik