Lost in Adaptation: A Series of Unfortunate Events

The Dom reluctantly looks to see if Lemony Snicket made it to the big screen in one piece.

About The Dom

Reviewer of games, TV shows and movies. The Dom also likes to look at film adaptations of books and talk about what got lost transitioning from page to screen.


  1. The Mysterious M

    If I knew you were gonna do this Dom, I would have asked you waited until the Netflix series came out.

    • That might have actually been better.

      Netflix is getting a lot of praise for how they handled Daredevil. On several occasions I find myself thinking that there’s numerous poor/bad productions (like the new ‘Fantastic Four’) that could probably turn out a lot better if only they had been given the series treatment by Netflix rather than a single movie that tries to do too much in a limited amount of running time.
      I’m not really a fan of ‘Eragon’ but I’d love to see someone make it into a series with a decent budget to do it right.

  2. MidnightScreeningsman2014

    Your really right about netflix series and how netflix makes crap movies into goodness (i am certain this one will work fingerd crossed as well). I also hope that they make percy jackson into a tv series (am i the only one who would think that would happen).

    I actually have never seen this film(one time my sister and my dads mother watched it together and i watched it a little but othee then that not much exposure to it really) and have never read the books but i remembered they were in thd library at my elementary school but the covers really didnt interest me but now that you explained it to me I’m interested)!!

  3. hed love the Spiderwick cronicels

    • MidnightScreeningsman2014

      You spelled chronicles wrong. Anyways I’ve never seen you before on this site before so welcome to the site new commentor and hope you enjoy ;.)

  4. id love to see a his dark materials tv series

  5. Ok, I don’t know that anyone caught this, but I think it’s awesome that you borrowed music from the Freespace games. Kudos to you, The Dom.

  6. Dom, I’m going out on a limb here and assume that you grew up with these books, or at least that you read them at a fairly young age. I hadn’t heard of them until the film came out, so that was my first exposure to it. Looking back, I’m shocked, shocked that I even saw this film (and didn’t end up seeing Percy Jackson and The Hunger Games and other YA-ish properties).

    For the record, I had a lot of fun with the film. Since I’m assuming you read the books first, I’m coming at the adaptation from the complete opposite end. I did read the first three books shortly after I saw the movie, FWIW. The Olaf of the book was, yes, far more “pure evil” than Carrey, but also a lot less fun. I grew up with Jim Carrey, back in his early/mid 90s heyday, when his every physical action was hilarious…except for the Ace Ventura talking-ass thing. Which wasn’t funny for even one second. And, yes, his dinosaur routine and such were exaggerated to an extent that they did distract from the film around it, though I understand why that could be, since the film felt very, very, very, very, very emotionally detached from its principal heroes. Violet and Klaus frequently came off as artificially-sedated, just looking on at Olaf’s wackiness or their most-recent green-screened surrounding with a stone face. Not faulting the actors there, but the director. Casper, Land of the Lost. Gotta be a connection. Del Toro woulda CRUSHED this film. Which is a good thing. Trans-Atlantic slang, an’ all.

    Even so, this film looked gorgeous from start to finish. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from Violet’s dress. The green-screened sets looked, actually, pretty acceptable. Cartoonish and fake, sure, but so old-school Tim Burtony (meaning, gothic imagination with SOME restraint). Anytime the film went all special-visually, I was happy. Most of the times Jim Carrey was clowning around, acting grotesque in a kinda Roald Dahlish “does NO ONE else see how creepy this guy is?” way, I was amused. Whenever Violet’s dress was on screen, I was spell bound.

    Which meant, in the long run, it was a very enjoyable movie. Yeah, when I later read the books, I noticed the very odd re-stitching. Which typically drives me mad. But…well…I saw the film first, and only read the books because of the film. I was gonna be kind, that’s how it usually works.

    So…since you read the books first, is that why you ultimately had a hard time with the film? Could you, maybe, view the film as a stand-alone work? Would it not improve in your estimation in such circumstances? I think it was a very, very well-made film, FAR better than the first TWO Harry Potters. Just doesn’t seem right that that series was given a chance to (eventually, and only partially) improve itself and so properly live up to the original work. I’m confident that this film could EASILY have spawned superior sequels, especially given what you say about books 5 and beyond. So many mediocre films get sequels (than more often than not become disasters). I feel Hollywood dropped the ball here. There was a time that producers could see potential in a series, and that they wouldn’t view the box office as the sole criterion for deciding if a series should continue. Unfortunately, that was probably before even my time, let alone yours.

    But, silver lining, the new Netflix series.






    Never seen “Daredevil” (any version). But I’ve seen “House of Cards” and “Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp”, so I do feel confident that Netflix can handle this. And I enjoyed the movie (Lemony Snicket) so much that I honestly can say, I’m more pumped for this series than I am for anything else I can think of. More than the next Star Wars (which I’ll probably hate) or the next Bond (which will probably be competent but very, very un-fun, like Skyfall).

    Still, silver lining. I now have something new to look forward to. That doesn’t happen too often. Thank you, Dom. I’m gonna be following this regularly. 🙂

    • Netflix’s Daredevil is arguably the best live-action version of the character in existence. I’m sure you’ve seen the Affleck movie but there was one prior in ‘The Trial of the Incredible Hulk’ tv movie that was meant to be a launch-point for a Daredevil spinoff series. It reminds me a little of Batman with its campiness. Here’s Nash & Company’s review if you don’t want to watch the whole thing, and I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t.

      Let’s hope the ‘Series of Unfortunate Events’ series turns out well.

    • Sorry IffySAM, I’m afraid your guess was wrong. I read books fairly recently so I could do the episode so I don’t think nostalgia can be blamed for this film’s disfavour.

  7. A series adaptation probably would work a lot better than a movie series.

  8. I read (and loved) the books first. And I still love the movie as its own thing. It doesn’t deserve the hate it gets imho.

  9. Also Dom, in the future, could you do (or at least consider) doing the Discworld miniseries? There’s five out there (Soul Music, Wyrd Sisters, Hogfather, The Color of Magic, Going Postal), so there’s got to be a lot of material.

  10. I found that i could enjoy this movie if I could just forget that the books existed for a few hours.

  11. I found there was one major problem with the movie that you didnt point out. Claus didnt have glasses! if they ever made a sequel, how would they do book 4 without his glasses? that was a very important plot point in that book

  12. The littlest ElfWAS in the books just in later books. Dose anyone else remember that besides me?

    btw, did you know that Tim Burton was originally attached with directing this movie?

  14. You think adapting three books into a single movie is bad, you should check out the movie “Alatriste” (or even better, avoid it like the plague) – FIVE books along with stuff from books in the series not yet written crammed into a single film.

  15. Aw, I LOVED A Series of Unfortunate Events as a kid. That was childhood. I read every single book and I even had the journal and the “autobiography”. I thought that the movie was meh. That Frankenstein face was scary as heck. Hey, I didn’t pick up the pedo vibe when I was a kid. Although, I don’t even think if I knew about pedos as a kid, just like murderers and stuff.

  16. “Personal beliefs notwithstanding.”

    In other words, Dom’s referring to the fact that Jim Carrey is a rabid anti-vaxxer. Lost all respect for him on my part because of that.

  17. They should get Alan Rickman to play Count Olaf in the Netflix series

  18. I actually liked this movie more, because they did away with the 3-act-structure of the books.

  19. As a fan of this series, I absolutely hated this film. Violet is my favourite of the three orphans, and her role was reduced, and almost all of her great moments were outright removed. Oh, you forgot to mention that Klaus doesn’t wear glasses in the film, despite wearing them in the book, and them being an important plot point in the fourth book. That’s just another way the film producers did their best to ensure they couldn’t have a sequel. I was really pissed off, because I was absolutely enchanted by the books thoughout my teen years, and the movie was just awful.

    I was a fan pretty much from The Bad Beginning on, but I do admit to liking the series more from the 6th book on. I actually kind of pictured Nicole Kidman playing Esme Squalor, but even though she was a brilliant Mrs. Coulter in The Golden Compass despite not looking like the character in the book, even she couldn’t save that film, and I doubt she could save what would have inevitably been an even worse sequel to an already horrendous film. Seriously, the only saving grace of the A Series of Unfortunate Events film, if you could even call it that, is that it looked like a masterpiece next to the video game, which was misogynistic and contained such stupidity as Violet giving stupid names with alliteration to her inventions. Seriously, if you ever do video game adaptations, that’s a pile of goat feces worth looking into. I suppose it does have some standout gameplay moments, but that doesn’t stop it from being an abomination that needs to be taken out back and shot.

    I never knew a Netflix series was in the works. I’m kind of stoked now.

  20. I actually REALLY liked that initial part of the skit where the Dom is going through the different recent movie clips. It wasn’t completely random, I loved how each of the clips lead into each other like a logical progressing timeline.

  21. OMG, the beginning of the review had me laughing out loud the whole way. I love all the little skits of the Dom appearing in several different movies and being such a silly, lovable nerd.

    About A Series of Unfortunate Events… eh. I read up to the fifth book, but honestly the relentless depressing tone really didn’t sit well with me and I eventually dropped it. I was in middle school when the film came out and so was the perfect age for it, back when the book series was at the height of its popularity, my childhood was just close enough behind that I’d recently read a few books, and was about the same age as the actors who played the siblings.

    I’m surprised, Dom, that you didn’t mention how the rather optimistic ending to the film clashes with the outright depressing tone and endings of every book. When the film first came one, one of the main criticisms from everyone I knew who’d seen it was that it ended on a positive note when the whole point of “A Series of Unfortunate Events” is that bad things CONSTANTLY happen to these good kids, and that every ending is a sad one in open defiance with the “poor unfortunate orphans overcome adversity and have a happy ending” storytelling convention. (Which is exactly why I stopped reading it, but there you go.)

    Oh well. Like you said, what the film does right, it does right. What it doesn’t do very well, it doesn’t do very well. It’s an average adaptation, which in its own way is even more frustrating than a bad one because you can see just how close they were, and how they could have made it if they had just done a few things different.

    Well, no sequels meant no incentive to keep reading the books, so I’m happy about that. Hope the Netflix series is good, but I won’t be watching it. (Terrible things happen to too many good kids in real life, I don’t want to read about it in escapist fiction.)

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