If you had an adolescent fascination with melancholia or were sadistically thrilled by bad things happening to good people, A Series of Unfortunate Events was the children’s book series for you. And now, the Netflix trailer for A Series of Unfortunate Events , the TV show, promises to bring that bleakness back into 2017. And honestly, I think I can get some joy out of the stylistic promise in this trailer, as it takes some interesting steps away from the 2004 film.
A lot of that is purely in the aesthetics. While the adaptations take certain cues from the original illustrations (whimsy et al.) the 2004 movie hit the Tim Burton-rip-off button hard. Everything about that adaptation screamed, “We’re ready to be mass produced in a Spencer’s Gifts.” Meanwhile, the Netflix iteration strategically uses bold pigments for certain scenes, and gives off almost a 1950s Americana film.
Also Lemony Snicket is a typewriter-tapping recluse in the movie, and speaking in Patrick Warburton’s booming voice in Netflix’s take. I mean. That’s probably tells you these are two different monsters right there.
On both accounts, there are considerable flaws in the two groups of Baudelaire orphans, and maybe that's because the book covers illustrate Violet and Klaus as nearly-Edwardian with a light gothic influence, as if they were drawn by some third cousin of Edward Gorey. The movie paints that darkness in broad brush strokes, and it is a hot mess. Violet, with her inexplicable double side braids, looks like she's wearing a Victorian Ghoul Halloween costume and then threw on some things from the Hot Topic sales rack. Klaus, who's supposed to look like a mini professor, has on a simple sweater and khakis. It's like someone plucked him straight out of a Disney Channel show and threw him into this film. And Sunny... does not need to have a definitive style, as she's an infant.
The new Baudelaires look considerable more saturated in this new iteration (their skin aside, we all know that filter), and yet it's still not perfect. Violet looks slightly better, but I'm not digging seeing her in pastels instead of her usual... well, violet. Klaus has glasses and a blazer, which makes him look like a young Woody Allen, but visually it sets better with his book image. And Sunny is rocking that bonnet. Overall, this offends me less, although it's still a bit too modern for my taste, and honestly, I should be able to see a definite age difference between Klaus and Violet. He's 12 and she's 14, boys and girls look like completely different generations at that age.
I'm pretty sure the story here is that Jim Carrey just walked out in Jack Skellington's suit and repurposed his Mr. Grinch voice. Like, that's what happening in this scene, right? And maybe it's just the angle, but the one nice thing about Carrey's Olaf is that he really has that looming height going on. Harris is only two inches shorter that Carrey, and both clearly six foot, but I think the physicality is really there.
And Harris is looking... a bit more cartoony in the Netflix adaptation. Maybe it's because you get a real feel of all the prosthetics in his intro. Like, call me crazy, but that nose looks seriously padded up. Or maybe it's something about the eyebrow... is it a little broader, a little flatter? Both are doing a great job on the Olaf front, and their respective unique brands of humor come out in both trailers. I'm sure that funny factor needs to be included with the character to make him less fearful.
The main attribute to Poe, aside from a fly hat, was the fact that he had a perpetual cough, so I'm not emotionally married to any clear image of the Baudelaire's executor. Incidentally, there really isn't any crazy stylistic differences in either portray. Oh, except for the very cool fact that Mr. Poe is now played by a man of color, actor K. Todd Freeman. Aunt Josephine, incidentally, has made a similar transformation, going from Meryl Streep to Alfre Woodard. Neat.
Inevitably it's difficult to appease fans when you take characters from page to screen. However, you got to give snaps for Netflix for taking a few different (and less embarrassingly mall-goth) twists on the book, and its movie predecessor. We'll really see how it stacks up when it hits the streaming service Jan. 13, 2017.
Images: Dreamworks (3); Netflix (4)