Wednesday, June 01, 2005


Reading over two recent reviews from Decent Films, I noticed a spot-on ability of the author to duplicate the tone and feel of the books (from which the films are based) in his writing.

For example, this introduction from his review of the Lemony Snicket movie:
If you prefer movie reviews about pleasant and uplifting films in which goodness is suitably rewarded, evil is suitably punished, and children are not placed in excessive peril or disagreeable circumstances, you may wish to read some other review.

While it is my duty to review Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, loosely based on the first three volumes of the best-selling series of books for intermediate readers, you might be happier not reading this review and never learning about the dreadful events that befall the three Baudelaire children — very quickly the Baudelaire orphans — in this film.

And this, a charming example from his review of Hitchiker's Guide:

Likewise, one of the film’s more inventive images involves a literally slapstick sequence in which Arthur, Ford and Zaphod must run a punishing gauntlet of thought-sensitive booby traps. It’s the kind of thing Adams might have come up with, but in the books he would have told us (a) who built the traps and why, (b) how they work, (c) what unforeseen consequences their deployment has had, and, most crucially, (d) what thought-suppressing expedient ultimately enabled Arthur, Ford and/or Zaphod to thwart them (a constant stream of small talk? singing sitcom theme songs? listening to broadcast presidential debates?).

Although I appreciate most of his comments on both films, I entirely disagree with his thoughts on the literary quality of Harry Potter vs. the Lemony Snicket series, despite his creative attempt at Snicket mimcry (see this book for some of my reasons why):

Still, it can easily be said that these books are far superior literarily to that other wildly popular series of dark-themed stories for young readers, the Harry Potter stories. And, with eleven of a projected thirteen volumes published so far, each thirteen chapters long and none more than double the length of the 175-page first entry, A Series of Unfortunate Events also exhibits commendable consistency and literary self-discipline. This also is in marked contrast to the Harry Potter books, which over time have become alarmingly tumid — the word “tumid” is related to “tumor,” and here means “swollen” or “bloated,” as well as “badly in need of editing.”

All that to say, it's nice to read film reviews from someone who appears to actually enjoy his job.

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