"The book is a film that takes place in the mind of the reader." ~ Paulo Coelho

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Book vs. TV Show Review: A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Reptile Room

Hello, readers!

It is time to continue reviewing a tale of misery and woe! Lemony Snicketʼs series of unfortunate events is going to go on for many more reviews. Confused at what Iʼm talking about? Check out my review for the first book and first episodes of the series, The Bad Beginning.

Because this is such a big series, Iʼm going to get more and more vague when it comes to the descriptions for each book/episode. In whatever format you chose, this is a fun series and I want you to enjoy it as it comes without knowing what happens!

My guarantee: On ALL of my reviews there are NO spoilers unless I give you warning. All of these reviews are spoiler free for your enjoyment!



A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Reptile Room - by Lemony Snicket:
The Baudelaires are ready for a new chapter in their life, but they are tentative when they are going to be living with another relative that they have never heard of. Could it be as bad as last time? Uncle Monty seems really nice and treats the children to cake, movies, and soon a trip! His profession as a herpetologist is strange at first, but Violet, Klaus, and Sunny can get used to it. When Uncle Montyʼs new assistant, Stephano, arrives, the quiet world the children were starting to build again shatters. What kind of danger lies in wait in the Reptile Room?
ʻ“Dewk!” Sunny shrieked in a generic cry of frustration and pounded her little fist on the floor. The word “generic” here means when one is unable to think of anything else to say, and Sunny was not alone in this. Violet and Klaus were, of course, too old to say things like, “dewk”, but they wished they werenʼt.ʼ
Genres: Fiction, Middle Grade Fiction, Mystery.
Characters: 8. The characters have most certainly grown on me with each time I read it. 
My favorites:
Violet: She is so resourceful! I love how she is respectful and optimistic and knows when the time is to act.
ʻ“Nice girls shouldnʼt know how to do those kinds of things.”
“My sister is a nice girl and can do many things.”ʼ
Klaus: If you read my last review you know that I sometimes have a hard time liking Klaus because he gets on my nerves. It was all because of something that I didnʼt understand: whenever someone says a fancy word they try to explain what it means and Klaus, the know-it-all, says he already knows. When I was little I thought it was the most infuriating thing! Well, this book explains it:
ʻOccasionally, people thought that because they were orphans they were also dim- witted.ʼ
Klaus reads a ton of books and of course he knows lots of words so I understand how he can get frustrated when people are constantly thinking that he doesnʼt know anything, especially when half the time they incorrectly define the words.
 ʻKlaus sighed. He felt sometimes as if he had spent half his life explaining things to Mr. Poe.ʼ
Sunny: Poor Sunny goes through a lot in this book and I just want to cuddle her.
Uncle Monty: I never realized it, but when it comes to books and movies I get VERY suspicious. And because of that I tend to dislike characters when it isnʼt their fault. I didnʼt trust Monty for the longest time when I first read this book. Poor guy! Now I like him even in his oblivion.
ʻ“How many time must I remind you, itʼs not polite to interrupt!” Uncle Monty interrupted.ʼ
Words/Writing style: 7. This rating is bumped down because there are some poorly used words. Lemony Snicket tells us that people sometime yell out names when they are surprised or scared, but I donʼt approve. We didnʼt need to hear it Mr. Poe, so I donʼt appreciate it.
There is one other bad word, but it is pointed out:
ʻIt is, as you know, very, very, rude and usually unnecessary to use profanity...ʼ
Exactly! I wouldnʼt want to copy anything that the person who said it does, but I still donʼt approve. Even when Lemony Snicket made me laugh.
Besides that, the writing style continues to be so much fun. All of the rule breaking and straightening out are a hoot. My favorite is when the word “ever” is used over 200 times. Just read the book and youʼll find out what that means.
World building/Setting: 8. When I first listened to the whole series this book struck me as having one of the most unique settings. While I now appreciate how each of the books have a different creative setting, I still really like this one. Imagine starting a peaceful life on “Lousy Lane”!
Quotability: 9. Lemony Snicketʼs writing sticks with you and is worth of repeating! I think my sister and I both think of this book whenever we think of eavesdropping and we think of some lines about it.
Content: 8. There are some violent threats and fear that goes with it. There is a death and the after affects are vividly described. All of this though is shown as bad!
I like how Lemony Snicket makes fun of things that are usually thought of as dangerous, as shown in this line:
“There is a pair of snakes whoʼve learned to drive a car so recklessly that they would run you over in the street and never stop to apologize.”
Notes: My sister and I feel like Lemony Snicket is well versed in Monty Python, and took some inspiration from that. Does anyone else see that? Doesn't just the name say a lot?
Originality: 9. I donʼt think Iʼve ever read another book that feature snake in this way! The ending is particularly complex which is something that pleases me.
Good For: This is such a hard thing to pin down because it really depends on the person! Either you will love the writing and root for the children to come out on top in all of their woe, or you will find the misery too disturbing. Do you like droll writing that is hilarious in the midst of trouble while having poignagt moments? This might be for you! 
Age Range: The range this spans is quite large. Itʼs written as Middle Grade Fiction so kids can look up to the Baudelaires who carry on in spite of troubles, and are relatable as Violet and Klaus are fourteen and twelve. On the flip side my sister and I are two adults who are WAY too into these books.
Overall Score: 8.
Worth reading?: Certainly! The themes that are explored in here hit quite deep, in particular, regret. We all wish that we could correct something in our lives by doing something different, but we canʼt. This book made me think about it a lot and appreciate that weʼll have more choices and chances to do right in the future.
ʻOne of the most difficult things to think about in life is ones regrets. Something will happen to you and would will do the wrong thing and for years afterward you will wish you had done something different. For instance, sometimes when Iʼm walking along the seashore or visiting the grave of a friend, I will remember a day a long time ago when I didnʼt bring a flashlight with me to a place where I shouldʼve brought a flashlight and the results were disastrous. “Why didnʼt I bring a flashlight?” I think to myself even though it is too late to do anything about it, “I shouldʼve brought a flashlight.”ʼ
Will I read again?: Iʼm not afraid of a lot of things, but one thing that I just canʼt stand is snakes. When I first read this book I was so relieved when it was over and never wanted to read it again. But you know what? I donʼt mind any more. This book is a little dry in places but still important to the series and I will read it many more times in my life Iʼm sure.
'Klaus sighed, and opened a book, and as at so many other times when the middle Baudelaire child did not want to think about his circumstances, he began to read.' 
Audiobook: Length: approx. 191 minutes.
I used to abhor it, but now my favorite part of this audiobook is the song “In the Reptile Room”. It is so horridly funny I canʼt even explain it. I highly recommend reading it this way, though Iʼm not fond of Tim Curryʼs narration of Monty. Besides that the narration is perfect!
Bonus thoughts:
This time around the ending struck a chord with me. It is soft in the middle of a hard world and I might be obsessed with it now. The accompanying music from the audiobook nearly made me cry.



VS.



A Series of Unfortunate Events: Season 1, Episodes 3 & 4: The Reptile Room Parts 1 & 2 (2017):
Based on:
A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Reptile Room - by Lemony Snicket 
“Itʼs a brand new episode in your lives, Baudalaires!” 
Lousy Lane seems like an unfortunate place for the Baudelairesʼs to start their new lives, but they donʼt have a choice, as it is up to Mr. Poe. Despite their fears, Uncle Monty seems to be a good guardian. He is friendly and teaches them about reptiles as he is a herpetologist. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny each get to do what they like and are taken care of. But Lemony Snicket informs us that this happiness wonʼt last. What with a new assistant, secret messages, movies, and snakes, someone is bound to get hurt...
“Iʼm giving you the verified film discount.”
Genres:
Comedy, Drama, Family, Mystery. 
Length: Episode 3: approx. 48 minutes. Episode 4: approx. 43 minutes. Total time: 91 minutes.
Script: 7. It took out one bad word that was in the book, but there is an instance where one person screams some names which annoys me. Not cool, dude.
“Iʼm terribly sorry if I was rude to him, children, but frankly, that man ruffles my scales.” 
Crew:
Directed by:
Mark Palansky. Produced by: Daniel Handler, Neil Patrick Harris, Emily Fox, & Barry Sonnenfeld. Written by: Daniel Handler, Emily Fox, & Joe Tracz.
Starring:
Patrick Warburton as Lemony Snicket.
Malina Weissman as Violet Baudelaire.
Louis Hynes as Klaus Baudelaire.
Presley Smith as Sunny Baudelaire.
Aasif Mandvi as Uncle Monty.
K. Todd Freeman as Arthur Poe.
Neil Patrick Harris as Stephano.
Matthew Walker as the Ticket Seller.
Also featuring: Usman Ally, Matty Cardarople, John DeSantis, Jacqueline Robbins, Joyce Robbins, Cobie Smulders, Will Arnett, Sara Canning, & Luke Camilleri.
Costumes: 9. I still don't know what time period this is supposed to be, but the costumes are so well designed! There is one person who looks so different that I would never have recognized him if it hadn't been pointed out to me. Yes, I am as bad as all of the adults. Once I noticed I can see it, but that initial look wasn't obvious to me.
Cinematography:
10. I wouldn't have noticed this until my sister pointed it out, but now I am shocked by how good it is: when the children meet Monty the dialogue and cinematography mirror that of when they met Count Olaf in the first episode. It is a brilliantly played move! It shows how the same words and actions can have the opposite meanings and intents when said in a different way. The set design for Monty's house is also fabulous and I now want to live there. The CGI for animals isn't the best as it looks fake, but I'm so impressed that I'm not going to take off a point for that.
Cinematography by:
 Bernard Couture.
Music: 9. The theme song is still as splendid as always. For each book the verse in the middle is changed to fit the story and the lyrics are so clever with their rhymes. I also noticed the score in the background more than in the first episode which almost made me cry at one point, but that was just me being overly emotional.
Music by: James Newton Howard & Sven Faulconer.
Notes: All of the references had my sister and I really excited! There was one Easter egg that appeared in the background while Lemony Snicket was talking and we couldn't stop screaming because it confirms something later in the series that is never talked about directly. It also subtly incorporates things that will be used later on which pleases me tremendously. I am now interested in seeing the movie The Dawn Patrol (1938) which is said to be Violet's favorite movie! Lemony Snicket's other series, All the Wrong Questions, is also mentioned!
ʻ“Howʼd he find us?”
“Thatʼs the wrong question. What do we do?”ʼ
Quotability: 10. The quotes are so repeatable! Even words that aren't said but just appear teach me things! Even Em (who seems to know every word) had to look up what vitiated means.
“Life is a conundrum of esoterica.”
My sister claims that Klaus defined "esoterica" incorrectly. His description better fits ephemera, as he mentions documents instead just generic facts. Em is very proud to have corrected the bookworm, but I'm still dubious. What do you guys think?
Content: 8. There are threats, kidnapping, death, and some scary things if you don't like snakes. Or just make you sad. It did both for me.
Originality: 10. Of the whole TV show, these are probably the episodes that differ the most from the books, but I don't mind at all because I absolutely love it! It takes some things that are only briefly mentioned in the book and expands them in an absolutely epic way! From awesome ticket sellers to spyglasses to danger, it is so gripping! It really highlights movies, which I love because movies are one of my favorite things. That's what this blog is all about! 
“Thereʼs more to a movie than just a movie just like a book can contain crucial secrets about the world of snakes or it can be used to prop open a refrigerator door when youʼre airing it out.”
I now wish that there was way more of this kind of content in the whole series. At the same time it really presses how much more comfortable streaming services are which was a hilarious promotion.
“Subtitles? This movie is boring already.”
Later, said by other characters:
 ʻ“If itʼs in English then why are their English subtitles?” 
“All the best movies have subtitles.”ʼ
(I actually said that to my sister today because we were watching a movie in English with English subtitles. Though I have to say that I usually don't like subtitles because they are so distracting and all I can do is read them. These episodes have made me change my mind.)
Good For: It's hard to say who would like it and who wouldn't! We watch it not because we like to see people in trouble. There is some warmth to this in the midst of darkness that is one of the reasons that I really like it. The other is that it is hilarious! It took me awhile to adjust to the humor, but it's worth a try! I feel like it's also good for siblings because the Baudelaires are so close through everything.
Age Range: It's rated PG I believe, and I think that's accurate. Just like the book, too!
Overall Score: 9!
Worth watching?: Absolutely for one reason in particular besides the fantastic additions with the movie. And that reason has a name: Montgomery Montgomery. As pointed out in my review of the book, I never liked Monty. I didn't trust him. But, watching this I just immediately loved Aasif Mandvi's portrayal! He is so welcoming, and wants the best for the Baudelaires. In the book he seems a little rude and full of himself (just a tiny bit) but here though he doesn't realize things, and as the intro says, makes a few mistakes, his heart is present through out. He is eccentric in all the best ways. I love him so much here!
So much of the dialogue has some double meanings and philosophy, too, which is so great to hear and interrupt.
“Now, I know the few dangerous reptiles can make you skeptical of the entire species, but, if you give them a chance, and you get to know them well enough to tell the dangerous from the good, I promise you: no harm will come to you in the reptile room.”
Will I watch again?:
Totally! These episodes are some of my favorite of the first season, if not the whole series.
Bonus thoughts:
“So, weʼre allowed to read all these books?”
“You are not only allowed, you are implored to read these books!”ʼ
I always have to throw a shoutout to Louis Hynes for making me actually like and relate to Klaus! I understand Klaus through this as he is heartbroken that his parents died and left him and his siblings, but heʼs also angry that they kept so many secrets from them. What were their lives truly like? Where they the people he knew or something else?



I can't decide which is better because it depends on the person! I personally like the tv show episodes, but others may like the book. I will say that the book is more mysterious. I remember the first time that I read it I was so shocked by a twist! It was one of the first times I remember being surprised like that. Rereading it I saw the foreshadowing, but it is still really cool. Here it takes that particular thing away and instead goes a route which would be more funny. I like both, but I'm glad that I got to experience the mystery first prior to seeing it obvious like that. If you have read the books but not seen this, I recommend it! It is really fun and quirky, staying true to books while branching out into new realms. It also hints more and more at things to come with tantalizing clues about the past!


That's it from me! Tell, am I the only one who gets really suspicious of new characters? Is there a show or movie based on a book that is different but you still really love it? Am I the only one who has a hard time liking Klaus? Is anyone else terrified by snakes? Thanks for reading!

MovieCritic

4 comments:

  1. Actually, Klaus is probably my favorite sibling. I relate to him, I guess. Also, this book/episode ending breaks my heart. I love Tim Curry's narration of the book.

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  2. Series of Unfortunate Events is so good! Both the show and the books (and even the movie honestly) although sometimes reading the books back to back they do get a little bit repetitive at least they were for me.
    You're definitely not the only one that gets suspicious of new characters.
    When I was first reading the books I thought Mr. Poe was the one that was causing a bunch of fires and that's why he had the cough but that never went anywhere. I still think it could have been a cool twist but it's fine.
    I'm actually okay with snakes. As long as I know I'm safe, although there's always that slight suspicion. Now spiders on the other hand. Spiders freak me out.

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  3. I love this book series! My family was obsessed with them too. I've been wanting to watch the show as well. I jus hope it's better than the movie.

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  4. Such a good idea to read the books in correlation with the show. I love both. I definitely think the author knows about Monty Python.

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"If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, where you stop your story." -Orson Welles