ByTom Chapman, writer at
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Tom Chapman

The internet is abuzz with excitement for 's , a strange hybrid of heartwarming family fun and heartbreaking misery. With a year like 2016 has been, it sounds like just the ticket, but we will have to wait until January 2017 for it to grace our screens. Expect Hollywood glamor and surprising roles, as Neil Patrick Harris steps into the role of the villainous Count Olaf.

However, some of a certain age may get a sense of deja "view" — A Series of Unfortunate Events was actually adapted into a film back in 2004. Following the first four of Lemony Snicket's 13-book saga, the Nickelodeon Movies venture is all but forgotten. As we gear up to the 2017 reimagining, let's remember what made the 2004 version great. Just check out the trailer below if you don't believe me!

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1. It Was Dark

Image: Paramounts
Image: Paramounts

The film opens with the story of "The Happy Little Elf," but don't be fooled into thinking this is your usual Care Bears outing. It isn't long before Jude Law's narrator warns the audience to turn back for something lighter. The film tracks the tale of three orphans after a mysterious house fire. A Series of Unfortunate Events takes the Baudelaires to even worse lows when they are adopted by the wicked Count Olaf.

There was attempted murder, actual murder, and one scene that wouldn't look out of place in Hannibal when one of the characters is eaten alive by leeches. All this from PG: Mature themes, Some scenes may frighten young children. As you an imagine, the books were equally as dark, and this was only the beginning.

2. Jim Carrey Is The Villain

Image: Paramount
Image: Paramount

Carrey may be known for his wacky characterizations, but the part of creepy Count Olaf seemed made for the comic superstar. There were your typical Carreyisms, but this time he played a whole host of parts, a'la Robin Williams. It wasn't one of Carrey's rare serious roles, but it was refreshing to not see him as the likable and hapless lead.

Unfortunate Events definitely became the Carry show; however, having him take the limelight was not a bad thing. The script meshed perfectly with the idea of eccentric Olaf as a washed up actor needing an ego boost. Neil Patrick Harris certainly has his work cut out to beat the pinstripe suited-menace of the original.

3. The Supporting Cast

Image: Paramount
Image: Paramount

Carrey alone wasn't enough of a coup for the film though, so there were parts for everyone and anyone. Billy Connolly, Catherine O'Hara, and Meryl Streep all played caring adults trying to help the orphans, but all fell flat in their rescue attempts.

Aside from the main cast, and for the eagle-eyed, there were even sneaky cameos from Jane Lynch, Dustin Hoffman, and Helena Bonham Carter. To further tie the old and the new, Catherine O'Hara will be returning for the Netflix version, but this time she will be swapping her role as Justice Strauss for Dr. Georgina Orwell.

4. Decent Child Actors

Image: Paramount
Image: Paramount

Cinema actually got it right for once. The Baudelaire orphans weren't the usual snot-nosed child actors that you wanted to punch in the face. The titular trio of Klaus, Violet and Sunny were played Liam Aiken, Emily Browning, and twins Kara/Shelby Hoffman.

Each brought their own melancholy charm to the film as characters you actually cared for. Perhaps Unfortunate Events appealed to our sadistic side, but the more danger the orphans found themselves in, the more we warmed to them.

5. It Was Magical

Image: Paramount
Image: Paramount

Like 1996's James and the Giant Peach, Unfortunate Events paired comedy villains with even more ludicrous storylines. From Connolly's demise at the hands of a humongous snake, to Meryl Streep's leech bath, it was wildly imaginative.

Director Brad Silberling managed to weave out a whimsical tale for children from a book that was so grim. Pair this with the cutesy painted backdrop of scenery and it was amazingly quaint. Like the early Potter films, there was a fantasy element to the story too. With three-eyed toads, two-headed snakes, and giggling elves, A Series of Unfortunate Events had more crazy animals than .

6. Thomas Newman's Score

An Elfman-esque haunting soundtrack means that in parts you would be excused for thinking you were in a Burton piece. It is no surprise that composer Thomas Newman has a long musical history, and even worked under the amazing Stephen Sondheim while at Yale.

Among his works of The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and Finding Nemo, Unfortunate Events isn't the most well-known film, but his score still makes it magical. The movie was nominated for Best Original Score, but lost out to Finding Neverland's Jan A. P. Kaczmarek - I know which film I preferred.

7. It Could've Been A Franchise

Image: Brett Helquist
Image: Brett Helquist

With 13 books in the franchise, and the first film only covering three, the plans to continue A Series of Unfortunate Events were always on the table. The problem was that the first film had been notoriously expensive to make on a small budget. Money troubles had meant that the first director Barry Sonnenfeld left the project to be replaced by Silberling. Sonnenfeld was famous for the '90s Addams Family films, so we would definitely got a different version of those unfortunate events.

However, Jim Carrey had remained on board from day one, and seemed to be looking forward to ideas of a continuing franchise:

I don't have a deal, but it's one that I wouldn't mind doing again because there are so many characters. I mean, we created 30 extra characters that never made it in the movie, so it's just so much fun. It's so much fun being a bad actor playing a character.

Sadly, there was to be no more Unfortunate Events, or was there?

8. It Is Back!

Image: Netflix
Image: Netflix

A sequel to the 2004 film was mulled over for longer than it took to create the original, but with the children growing up, the idea had been toyed with of doing a stop-motion version instead of live-action. Eventually everything stalled and even that idea vanished too. With the book series ending in 2006 time was running out; it looked like we would have to go into reboot mode to see the Baudelaire children once more. A "corporate shakeup" at Paramount was blamed for its extended hiatus, and all plans for a sequel were scrapped around 2009.

Everything lay still, until in November 2014. Netflix and Paramount Television made the shock announcement that they would be developing a series based on the books. After departing the 2004 film mid-way through, the series author Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) would be fully on board this time as an executive producer, and it was full steam ahead.

Image: Paramount
Image: Paramount

So, here we are - ending 2016 with more unfortunate events then you care to count, but the promise that 2017 will bring yet another great Netflix original series. With eight episodes, and each book covering two episodes, we will be heading further into Snicket territory than the original did. This won't just be your usual rehash, and all signs point to a faithful adaptation. Patrick Harris will be joined by Patrick Warburton as Lemony Snicket, Joan Cusack as Justice Strauss, and Alfre Woodard as Aunt Josephine. A Series of Unfortunate Events will stream on Netflix in January 2017.

Check out the trailer for the Netflix series, and don't forget our poll below

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Which looks better, the 2004 or the 2017 version of 'A Series of Unfortunate Events'?

[Source: IGN]


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