Cover Art and Menu: 8/10
This is a classy movie and the cover is fitting, if not quite creative enough for my tastes. I would like to have seen more of the fantastic closing credit artwork, but hey, Jim Carrey’s lovely face is good enough for me.
The menus are fantastic. I love the fact that you can actually change the background from one wonderful bit of artwork to another. I can’t say enough good things about the fact that they used the amazing closing credit artwork to build the menus around. When you watch the move, DO NOT turn it off when the credits roll at the end. You will miss some of the most interesting animation that’s hit the big screen in a long time. It’s a mix of old time shadow box effects and modern computer enhanced images.
- Commentary with director Brad Silberling – Brad Silberling is one artsy fartsy director with a high budget sensibility. He goes with the creativity and talks a lot about the art of making his movie, the process, working with the performers, and everything else. I enjoy listening to a director who has so much respect for his project. He’s technical, but adds a lot of personal flair to his commentary.
- Brad Silberling & the real Lemony Snicket Commentary
- Bad Beginnings: Building a bad actor – Watching Jim Carrey find the character of the evil Count is really interesting. I think a lot of people underrate Carrey for what ever reasons (um, Dumb and Dumber, Ace Ventura, Mask..etc) but to see his devotion to the job of capturing every nuance of a character is really kind of amazing. I like him, no LOVE him since The Truman Show, so he can do no wrong. This extra is well worth a watch.
- Interactive Olaf – You can watch the different screen tests of each character Carrey plays throughout the story. It’s pretty cool to see him finessing the dialogue before actually shooting the scenes for the movie.
- Orphaned Scenes – Some deleted scenes that don’t fill in any story bits or wouldn’t have added much to the final mix. So they are kind of take it or leave it for me. There are a few that are considered out takes, but no real bloopers..EXCEPT one hysterical snippet in which one of the adorable little girls who plays Sunny falls asleep while they are doing a scene, with Meryl Streep no less.hahahaha.
- The making of the film – In this section you will find five mini features that cover everything from the snake handling behind the scenes to the inventions of Violet, the teenage inventor and leading lady. I love all the extras on these DVD’s, well deleted scenes are optional for me, but these “making of” stuff falls under my favorites category.
- Volume, Frequency, Decibels sound design featurette – Do you know what it takes to record the sound of a house falling apart? How about planting several microphones around an old house and actually tearing it down? That’s how it works apparently in Hollywood. They rent an old house, and give it the old audio recording treatment. You even get an elaborate section where you get several angles of the sounds of a tree falling on the aforementioned house..pretty cool.
- Sinister special effects featurette – You get a lot of background on the making of everything from puppets to CGI effects. They go to the trouble of using every kind of technology at their disposal. They make an animatronic version of the small girl, Sunny, and an elaborate CGI version of the same little girl. So, this is the age of coming together of old and new school and I love it. I appreciate the effort they took to show us so much of the process of getting the elaborate images onto the screen.
- Gruesome galleries – So many excellent stills from shots of the movie and behind the scenes. There aren’t too too many so don’t worry it won’t bore ya. Just let the pics pass before your eyes and enjoy.
- Full Book Lemony Snickets: The Bad Beginning – This is a great extra, a whole book! It’s a CD ROM feature so get your PC out of the closet and check it out! – Book? I’m a movie chick, not a book kind of gal… haha but I do love that I can slap this disc into my PC and read the real deal, one of the books that started it all.
The Movie: 8/10:
I have to say that the first time I saw this movie in the theater I came away sort of neutral about it. I wanted to love it, but it fell a bit flat for me. Maybe it was the few dozen children in the theater and chatty parents. Or maybe it was the fact that I did the horrible thing and had expectations. So, what happened when I sat down to watch it again, this time in the comfort of my own recliner sofa on my own personal big screen, and with only one other movie goer, my silent husband? 🙂 Let’s see.
A dark tale about orphaned children doesn’t sound very cheery, and it’s not really. Maybe that’s what I like about it now that I have had a chance to watch it as an adult, not as a kid chauffer. It’s clear from the beginning that this movie has a sense of humor by offering you, the viewer, the option to stop the movie and move on to a happy elf movie elsewhere…or something like that. Although many kid movies are based on children who have lost their parents, or at least one, most do not compound the trauma with more strange, ominous tragedy like “uncles” who park the children on a train track just in time for the 11:15 train. Nor do most stories add more death to the mix with homicide after homicide (however well disguised, clever, and theatrical) at the hands of who might possibly be the worst guardian ever to be given custody of some poor, but wealthy, orphans. Sounds grim, doesn’t it? It is but in a good way.
Every performance is spot on, especially Carrey, of course. The children are all perfect with their sadness and sense of self preservation. The story is about the three children and how they overcome even the worst of circumstances as a family, even without their parents.
Their parents, by the way, perished in a terrible fire of questionable circumstances, that’s where the tale begins. From there we are treated to a series of artistically designed scenes, wonderful rich sets, fantastic costumes, and many grim characters with very few good motives. Speaking of artistic, this movie looks incredible. I would say it’s got a Tim Burtonesque quality, and that is a huge compliment. It’s got a combination of antique clothes, old fashioned machines, and classic architecture, combined with modern junk like car phones and remote car lock devices. The style is right up my alley, so I might be biased.
Don’t expect Harry Potter type action, but do expect to take a journey on the darker side of the fairy tale circuit with peril and danger but with lots and lots of inventions, and siblings taking care of each other against all odds. Yes there’s comedy. Yes it’s got action. Yes there are moments of great distress caused by one of the creepiest bad guys ever, Count Olaf.
This may not be one of those lifelong classics that seem to linger for years and years, but it’s well worth a watch. Don’t forget to read the books kids!! More fun to be hand in the pages of the original novels.
Value? I don’t think the people who put the price tag on this know what value means. This is a good 2 disc set, but it’s not worth thirty bucks. The 1 disc version is $20 and I think that’s too much as well. Call me cheap, but come on people!! It’s a good movie, and the extras are great, but no amount of bonus material will make me want to spend that much cash. Sorry movie execs, but I ain’t buying a $30 DVD. Well, if you put a crisp new twenty dollar bill in each one I might consider it…:) Rent it now, buy it later when the price goes DOWN DOWN DOWN. 🙂
Overall Score 8/10