Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events Brad Silberling

Visually stunning and incredibly creative, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events is bursting with potential. Based on the first three of Daniel Handler's popular children's books, Snicket could have been a classic. But there is simply something missing. The sardonic humour that made the books so wonderful doesn't translate onto the screen, and the narrative comes across as a bit over the top. However, the film remains wonderfully entertaining and generally intelligent, and is much more than one could ask for in the way of youth films. Jim Carrey (who, speaking of over the top, is a disappointment here) plays Count Olaf, the mysterious relative of the three orphaned Baudelaire orphans (Liam Aiken, Emily Browning, and twins Kara and Shelby Hoffman, all perfectly cast). The orphans discover that Olaf is not what he seems and must flee from his guardianship. Their journey takes them through absolutely beautiful scenery and into action sequences featuring state-of-the-art visual effects that will amuse anyone of any age. They also meet the standard variety of colourful characters (including Aunt Josephine, played with true heart by Meryl Streep), many of whom shine with originality. But by the time their journey ends, the viewer might find themselves looking for something more, which is perhaps the fault of adapting three books into one film. Though better suited to the big screen, the two-disc DVD set pulls out all the stops. Numerous documentaries and featurettes (including a very insightful look at how the visual effects were created) matched with interactive games, deleted scenes, and outtakes make Snicket a far cry from your average set. And despite its obvious flaws, the DVD is certainly worthy of being a part of any child's collection, and anyone else who wants to look at something pretty for an hour-and-a-half. (Paramount)