Today I bring you my review of the Netflix adaptation of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. Basically, it boils down to three words: Vastly Fabulous Delight.
After having just finished my reread of the book series and delving into the many fan theories out there, this adaptation just completely fit the bill. Not only was it loyal to the original source material, at times repeating lines verbatim, it also perfectly captured the tone of the series, not an easy feat to translate onto screen. Half the fun of ASOUE is the literary jokes thrown in, the playful use of prose, and the breaking of the fourth wall by our witty narrator, Lemony Snicket. Difficult to capture on screen, but the adaptation did it perfectly by making Lemony an actual character and narrator to the audience. Patrick Warburton’s smooth velvety voice is absolutely perfect for the role of Lemony and that casting was pure genius.
Speaking of perfect casting, Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf is a delightful take on this villainous character. NPH flawlessly shifts from snarky and humorous to scary and menacing in a couple of breaths, and it is a delight to watch. Count Olaf’s theatricality is also brought to the forefront, given NPH’s own playful acting. Overall, Patrick Warburton’s and NPH’s performances perfectly capture the tone of the series and completely steal the show.
If half the fun of ASOUE is the playful tone, the other half is the V.F.D. conspiracy and the desperate need for answers that Daniel Handler incites in his audience. I was pleasantly surprised to find that unlike in the book series where the first mention of V.F.D. only comes at the end of book 5, we get to delve into the V.F.D. story right from the first episode. There are so many little references that only avid fans would be able to spot, like references to a certain sugar bowl, and I love how the V.F.D. organization is really brought to the forefront in this adaptation. I literally squealed every time there was a reference to something that is only mentioned many books later, or even something that is only mentioned in the Unauthorized Autobiography. Perhaps this is Daniel Handler’s way of appeasing us after all these years? I certainly got a lot more answers from watching the first few episodes than I ever did scouring the Internet and rereading the entire series again. The whole plot with the parents also completely blew my mind and damn it, I should have known better than to fall for it, but I totally did. Daniel Handler, you’re breaking my heart.
I honestly think that the Netflix adaptation is as perfect as an adaptation can get. It stays loyal to the books but makes some permissible changes and provides us with some extra information. My only complaint is the not-so-good CGI and the somewhat stiff acting of the Baudelaire children. But I have faith that the acting will improve and if anything, it sort of fits with the naivety and innocence of the children in comparison with everyone else around them. As for the CGI, it does sort of go along with the quirky and sometimes purposely outrageous events that happen. It sort of fits with the idea that the entire show is sometimes just poking fun at itself. Still, it can kinda detract from my full enjoyment of the show sometimes, but not enough to make me stop loving it.
All in all, a perfect adaptation, and I am eagerly anticipating the second season!
Cheers and happy watching!