TV Binge: Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (Season 2, 2018)

It sure feels like a long time that I have been working on this TV Binge. A really long time! If you missed the Season 1 TV Binge post, you can find it HERE.

Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (Season 2, 2018)

a series of unfortunate events s2

Cast: Neil Patrick Harris, Patrick Warburton, Malina Weissman, Louis Hynes, Presley Smith, K. Todd Freeman, Lucy Punch, Nathan Fillion, Sara Canning, Patrick Breen, Sara Rue

Stepping right off from Season 1, the Baudelaire Orphans now have gone through a bunch of odd guardians. Each one failing because of the horrible Count Olaf and his mischief or simply because they were some shady or clueless characters. Some cases even a mesh of the two components. It was filled with dark humor and a rather formulaic way of the Baudelaires always getting away. Entertaining as always but still the idea of the episodes always followed a same pattern. Unlike a lot of viewers, the first season took me a little while to get into. With where it left off in Season 1, this Netflix Original has established itself and its tone along with the characters so we should be in for a fun ride in Season 2.

Fortunately, we do get exactly that. Filled with more clever vocabulary lessons and random narration from Patrick Warburton in the oddest locations, the Baudelaires set off for a second season that is much more sinister and dangerous than the previous one. While the tone of the show hasn’t changed much, the events are more brutal. This is still a family show so the camera always cuts away from the potentially disgusting bits. Before we get ahead of ourselves too much, Season 2 covered Books 5 to 9 in the series: Austere Academy, Ersatz Elevator, Vile Village, Hostile Hospital and Carnivorous Carnival. Structured much like the first season, each book adaptation is separated into two parts. We get some new characters introduced (and in some cases, taken away). Honestly, I like this structure, it gives it a somewhat nice slice of moment. You can choose to binge watch the entire series if you want but you can also watch it like separate stories as the Baudelaires escape Count Olaf with less and less leeway leading to a nail-biting cliffhanger.

Overall, Season 2 is pretty strong. I got involved and immersed a lot quicker. It helps to see each of the characters grow more mature and smarter. The Baudelaires end up gaining a lot of coy and street smarts to pair with their natural intelligence. They each get their own spotlight, even little Sunny. The series remembers to be fair. As they get smarter, Count Olaf also devises much more intricate plans that give us surprises and each part as its own twists and turns that work to its advantage.

For things I loved/liked a lot in Season 2:

New Friends

A Series of Unfortunate Events

At the end of season 1, we stopped when we saw the Quagmires, now landing in the first six episode of this season. Quagmires and Baudelaires learn about their similarities and they are both brave and resourceful in their own ways. Call them the dynamic foursome if you will but the bonds they create in Austere Academy carries them to save these loyal friends for the next two stories in Ersatz Elevator and Vile Village. Its a nice change in pace to have them here. While most of the credit does go to following closely to the source materials pacing, it is nice to see these four work so well together. In these extreme situations, it is important to have allies.

New Villain

A Series of Unfortunate Events

Lucy Punch joins the villainous Count Olaf troupe  as the wealthy woman who is the student of Count Olaf and his girlfriend, Esme Squalor. She is packed with all kinds of accents and characters. Honestly, she is a joy to watch on screen. I’ve only seen her do weird odd roles in other movies before so its quite the breather to see her really embrace this role and take it in a wonderfully entertaining and wicked direction, especially in Hostile Hospital. She adds just a little bit of extra wickedness to Count Olaf which changes the game a little from the silly henchmen & henchwomen in his ragtag troop.

New VFD Members

a series of unfortunate events

VFD and a mysterious sugar bowl, along with the reveal of the narrator’s identity all get a part in Season 2. It adds depth and context as well as some answers to the million of questions stirring in our minds that are left unanswered for both the viewers and the Baudelaires. Nathan Fillion adds his charming self as Jacques Snicket who ends up recruiting Olivia Calaban, a librarian who tries to help the children and is smart enough to be suspicious. Olivia Calaban is a wonderful character played by Sara Rue and is eventually recruited into VFD. She has some of the answers but being new, she is more passionate about the mission that Jacques Snicket teaches her. They are a great team and as we learn about the VFD, we see that its a chase to figure out how everything pieces together.

New Locations

a series of unfortunate events

A Series of Unfortunate Events has been very location-based so far. In the first season, we had some incredibly imaginative locations belonging to an array of odd characters. In Season 2, we continue on with this trend. We see the Austere Academy and the orphan’s shack. In Ersatz Elevator, we move to a wealthy penthouse location as well as the various fishy (literally) restaurants. Then we move on to the Vile Village where crows migrate from one location to the next at a set routine. Hostile Hospital is a incomplete half hospital with one of its wings still in construction limbo and of course, the most fascinating of all, is the rundown circus of Madame Lulu’s Caligari Carnival. The production design and tone and lighting all add to the environment of the series.

Overall…I kept it quite to the point in this one. I still love the young cast playing the Baudelaire Orphans. They are fantastic. Neil Patrick Harris is great as Count Olaf. The success of Season 2 despite its episode formula is the depth of the story. We learn more, the characters develop further and the situation gets more dire and dangerous. It has all the great points of the first season and adds a little more, just enough to keep us curious but still unveiling a bit more to give the story some context. With the fantastic ending and the brilliant pacing in Season 2, I can’t wait for Season 3 (which should be the final season if they follow the progression of the books).

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TV Binge: A Series of Unfortunate Events (Season 1, 2017)

We are in for some TV binge posts this week. I have been slacking off on writing them up. Let us start this week with something the most current: Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. I was adamant on finishing the first four books before watching this series. If you missed the reviews, you can find here and here. On the record, I love the movie adaptation and the cast and I watched it without any knowledge of the source material. I still think it handles what it has well enough.

The question is how do they approach it as a TV series. Netflix has rarely disappointed in its series so I was incredibly excited for this one. Let’s check it out!

A Series of Unfortunate Events (Season 1, 2017)

A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS

A Series of Unfortunate Events has a fun and sinister premise. It is full of imagination and adventure. There are clever inventions and also an educational vocabulary adventure filled with colorful characters no matter how dark and grim of a situation the Baudelaire orphans get caught up in as they narrowly escape Count Olaf time and time again. In that sense, the TV series grasps the ton of the books incredibly well. They handle it with a great balance while stringing in some simultaneous events to keep us intrigued. While this may limit themselves in terms of how long the series can run, it is smart idea to take the books and split it into two episodes. Season 1 covers the first four books in the eight episodes. At the end of the fourth book, there is a change in events that should spring forth in the next season. I’ve only read till book 6 so I don’t know what goes on in books 7 and 8 but there is a new discovery and characters that will give it a fresh change to keep it interesting.

A Series of Unfortunate Events

The cast here does a fantastic job in capturing how these characters are. The Baudelaire Orphans are played by Malina Weissman as Violet, Louis Hynes as Klaus and Presley Smith as baby Sunny. These three are the focus of the story itself. They are the ones dealt with all the misfortune. In many ways, Violet, Klaus and Sunny are hold a wonderful connection to each other as siblings. There is a likeable factor to them because they are so intelligent and because they’ve lost so much and trapped with such either useless or evil adults. However, there is a question of how the character in the series actually pick up to fend for themselves (much quicker than in the books).

Talking about useless adults, we can’t dive into a talk about the series without talking about their absolutely useless and constantly coughing Mr. Poe, a man who is responsible for their future until Violet comes of age to inherit the Baudelaire fortune. Mr. Poe, played by K. Todd Freeman is portrayed so incredibly clueless and possibly self-absorbed that in fact, him and his family are quite funny to watch. This brings forth a dark comedy tone that works well to not only give us a grim situation but know when to inject some dark humor.

We can’t have a conversation about characters without talking about the master disguise villain, Count Olaf who will do absolutely anything to get his hands on the Baudelaire orphans. Neil Patrick Harris, for myself, is a hit and miss sort of actor. He has done great roles such as Mr. Horrible and Gone Girl. I’m not a fan of How I Met Your Mother so I never watched it much. However, he always carries a charm in taking on different roles. In many ways, Count Olaf is a perfect platform (much like Jim Carrey’s portrayal) where he can do all sorts of voice acting and show off a ton of his skill set to capture and bring this Count Olaf character to life and man, does he prove himself worthy! Just his facial expressions is irreplaceable.

A Series of unfortunate events

Perhaps one of the nicest touch is to keep our narrator, Lemony Snicket to pop up in the most random places as he continues on with the story. He gives us comparisons and sheds light on vocabulary, just like the books did. He adds a very serious tone to the story. In this case, Lemony Snicket is played by Patrick Warburton, a man with a unique voice. If you don’t know who he is, he’s done the voice of Kronk in Emperor’s New Grove. His voice is commanding and just amazing and fits his narrative so well. Especially adding in his background appearances to aid the progression of the story, it is possibly one of my absolute favorite parts of the series.

There is a lot of cameos here filled with familiar faces. Perhaps the most known would be Joan Cusack playing Justice Strauss, Catherine O’Hara as Dr. Orwell and Don Johnson (as Sir). Aunt Josephine and Uncle Monty are played by Alfre Woodard and Aasif Mandvi respectively and look incredibly familiar and yet I can’t pinpoint where I’ve seen them before. However, they all do really well in their roles. I’m a huge fan of Catherine O’Hara.

A Series of Unfortunate Events

The familiar faces don’t stop. In fact, this Netflix Originals adds in a little extra mystery with injecting Will Arnett and Cobie Smulders who plays parents who are locked up and escaping some interesting situations and trying to get home. Now, are they the Baudelaires? Are the Baudelaires orphans not actually orphans? These are questions that this invokes. Who are these two mystery couple? Aside from that, we also get a deeper knowledge of what that secret society and the telescopes that the Baudelaire orphans find from their parents including the recurring symbol as we get undercover roles from Sara Canning as Jaquelyn and Luke Camilleri as Gustav. This side of the story about the eye and the telescopes really bring out a different side of the story that we’ve never learned much before and it adds in a nice mysterious touch and something that unfolds a little in each episode and wonder how this will all pull together.

Overall, the first season of A Series of Unfortunate Events is an intriguing one. It did take a while to build in the first few episodes but does a well job and captures a very suitably dark comedy tone. The cast captures its roles great whether it is our charming narrator to the evil villain to the resilient Baudelaire orphans. They add in a bit of mystery by showing a little more about the mysteries. Its a great way to keep the story intriguing and entertaining all at the same time. It is definitely one I am looking forward to Season 2 to see how it continues.

Have you seen Netflix Original A Series of Unfortunate Events? 

Recap: Oscars 2015!

The Oscars 2015 came and went last night.  I feels like this year is zooming by.  Although, I didn’t manage to get to catch up with a lot of Oscar nominees (not just Best Picture), I was looking back at my past two years and realized this year, the whole having a week of watching Oscar nominees, was effective because I actually watched 10 movies that were nominated in various categories.  I beat my own personal record so thats something. I’m guessing, next year, I’ll try to schedule Oscars earlier, except how? The Valentine’s marathon clashes with it a little.  Anyways, I have a year to figure it out.

We celebrated Chinese New Year dinner while watching Oscars this year, so that was a pretty nice addition because for once, I’m not sitting there by myself with a cup of tea in a lonely dining room.  I actually had my mom and her friend, plus my boyfriend (who was dozing off eventually).  It was appreciated because its one thing to talk about red carpet in my head but its always more fun to hear other opinions.

Lets start this with Best Dresses that wowed me! 🙂 The order is from left to right for Top 5.

Anna Kendrick Cate Blanchett Rosamund Pike Scalett Johansson Naomi Watts

After that, I also liked: Emma Stone, Margot Robbie and Gwyneth Paltrow.

I’m a little on the fence with Marion Cotillard’s dress.  I can appreciate its elegance but the back part wasn’t really my cup of tea.

BEST MOMENTS

This year’s Oscars had a lot of moments.  The moments are not in any order.  I’m just numbering them so that I don’t get carried away.

1. Neil Patrick Harris, Anna Kendrick and Jack Black opening act

Oscars 2015

Respectable and paying tribute to a ton of epic movies with awesome singing and adding a little funny moments with Jack Black butting in from the audience.  It was classy and fun all at the same time.  Unfortunately, Neil Patrick Harris cracked only a few jokes last night that I found worked and didn’t feel awkward. Can we have Ellen back for next year?

2. Patricia Arquette’s speech & Meryl Streep’s reactionOscars 2015

Oscars 2015

Oscars 2015 was not only full of surprises (which were more like unexpected turnouts), but it was full of meaningful speeches.  Not so many people thanked the Academy but rather used the opportunity to share a personal view.  Patricia Arquette spoke for women rights equality.  While, documentary winners also did it: Citizenfour spoke out for fighting for privacy and democracy, while Crisis Hotline:Veterans Press 1 shared a heartfelt speech dedicating the award to her son and making a point that suicide should be “talked out loud”.

3. John Legend and Common’s performance followed by John Legend’s speech

Oscars 2015

Other than “Everything is Awesome”, which was a really fun performance, I haven’t heard any of the other songs.  In the Red Carpet/pre-Oscars part, they had talked to Tim McGraw and how it was going to be a tissue-worthy performance.  It was an extremely calm and soothing song.  Then, John Legend and Common was on for the last original song performance for Selma called “Glory” and that was just absolutely awesome.  They had to win this and they did in absolute style with John Legend’s inspirational speech.

4. Eddie Redmayne for Best Actor in Leading Role

Oscars 2015

Its always great to see an Oscar winner completely shocked by winning.  Plus, talk about an awesome honeymoon gift, right? Eddie Redmayne’s shocked and enthusiasm was amazing and charming and adorable all at the same time.  I kind of started hating myself a little for not finding the time to watch The Theory of Everything before the Oscars.  But then, its still rented and I’m going to try and get that in this week some time.

5. Lady Gaga’s performance for The Sound of Music 50 year tribute

Oscars 2015

The Sound of Music is my most favorite movie of all time.  I was wondering what Lady Gaga’s performance would be for and when they announced it, I paused a little because c’mon, Lady Gaga? The Sound of Music? Not exactly a match.  BUT, other than the fact that there was a few parts you can tell her forcing an English accent as she sang to replicate the song, she did a fine job and her voice is a lot more than Bad Romance and all her other funky hits (that I’m not exactly a huge fan of). She did a stellar performance and Julie Andrews looked absolutely touched by it all.  Julie Andrews is incomparable and her showing up at the Oscars made my night 🙂 Lady Gaga’s gown here looks a lot better than that avant-garde one she wore on the red carpet, just my preference…

THE AWKWARD AND SLIGHTLY CREEPY MOMENT

Oscars 2015

It all started great with making fun of John Travolta and his butchering of Idina Menzel’s name last year.  But when he turned around and got all touchy and making that weird face.  I was a little disturbed with the whole thing.  Oh goodness…Need to move on and not look at that…

In terms of awards, there were a few unexpected but well deserved surprises.

grand budapest hotel

The Grand Budapest won all the artistic merit ones: Best Costume Design, Best Hairstyling and Makeup, Best Production Design and Best Original Score.  I personally loved all of those things and I loved that each of those winners thanked Wes Anderson for thinking up the fun and quirky adventure that the Grand Budapest was.

I haven’t seen Whiplash but I didn’t really expect it to win Film Editing.  But then, all the other nominees had a deserved spot to be there, just looking at the concept.  I only knew Boyhood and that one had good editing too. I need to find Whiplash and check it out 🙂

Which goes to say that I’m going to be searching out Birdman now because it won all the awards I had wanted Boyhood to win.  Boyhood was a little gimmicky but I hold true that it was a brilliant movie.  We’re all entitled to our opinions, right? Thats what makes the blogosphere so fun 🙂

This has gone on long enough! Time to wrap this up!

Did you watch the Oscars? Which dress did you like the most? What was your favorite moment? Were there any surprises?

Gone Girl (2014)

Gone Girl is my most anticipated movie of 2014.  Its also one of the Top 5 favorite novels (if I had to rank my faves).  My neighborhood Cineplex only had the English version in VIP section so my boyfriend and I went to go check it out on a cheaper day. Its not the genre of movie I’d choose to go see at VIP but I just had to see it.  With a cast that I felt was perfectly casted and a director who is masterful at this sort of thriller, to say that I was excited would be a huge understatement. The only thing was to try to not let my high expectations get the best of me, which was going to be hard.

Lets see if Gone Girl lived up to my expectations, shall we?

Gone GirlDirector: David Fincher

Cast: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris, Carrie Coon, Kim Dickens, Patrick Fugit

Amy Dunn (Rosamund Pike) mysteriously disappears and suspected to be murdered on her wedding anniversary.  Her husband, Nick (Ben Affleck) comes home shocked to see the mess and calls the police.  As the investigation lead by Detective Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) gets further, all suspicion lands on Nick.

Gone Girl is a very unique story.  I remember reading this novel as one of the novels I was so hooked that I read into the late hours of night because I just had to know what was going to happen.  The novel was a one of a kind experience because of the layout of the story and the characters involved and just how it was so twisted.  You can read my full review of the novel HERE.  Whats a good fact to have, if you don’t already know, is that the screenplay is written by the author of the book, Gillian Flynn.  In my opinion, Gillian Flynn is quite the author because she’s written 3 novels and although the first two are not quite as epic as Gone Girl, they still are page turners. Now that I’ve gotten my fan girl moment out of my system. You can all get where my expectations kind of come from.

Gone Girl

The best way to walk into Gone Girl is with as little knowledge as possible.  I wanted to punch the morning radio the day that it was released when they went extremely in depth with the synopsis.  You learn all the twists before it happens.  I didn’t even bother to watch the trailer for this one even though I’ve already read the book.  Too much information would ruin this for you.  Actually, I’m giving you a perspective from both me, as a reader that loves the book and well, a bit from my boyfriend’s perspective who knows absolutely nothing about it but still agreed to go with me. Other than the two guys next to me that kept pulling out their phones and had these flashing lights throughout the movie and was bothering me so much, the movie still was one of the best adaptations I’ve ever seen.  David Fincher’s directing teamed with Gillian Flynn’s screenplay put this Gone Girl story effectively on the big screen. I was captured by the movie (despite outside distractions) and how they structured it while my boyfriend, without any knowledge was still thinking about it till last night (which was the last I spoke to him).  Plus, the little changes they made were effective for movie purposes while keeping the most important parts and the message the original story was trying to send. Without diving too much into spoiler territory, the beginning and ending of this movie will make you feel like in a very awkward way that it completes itself but makes you think about the deeper issue because it really gets under your skin.

Gone Girl

One of the most important parts of making Gone Girl succession is casting the right actor and actress to play the roles of Nick and Amy Dunn.  Some may not agree but although, I don’t have a very fond appreciation for Ben Affleck as an actor (although I do love his directing efforts), I saw him fit perfect for the role.  His expressions, the on screen feeling he can pull off was perfect for what Nick needed to be, especially when caught both in the attention of the media and the police under the suspicion of murdering his wife.  The desperation and despair was one that I saw him doing perfectly.  Ben Affleck certainly didn’t disappoint me and as Nick, he was absolutely amazing to watch as the story moved forward and it required a lot of the range that he had as an actor.  The other star of the show is the missing Amy, played by Rosamund Pike. I’ve only ever seen her in Pride and Prejudice and Jack Reacher (and thats the ones I remember her in) but this role was something completely different for her.  I think thats what makes this even more epic is that the cast was chosen for something they don’t usually do and these two characters are so multi-layered but developed so well.  A perfect cast needs phenomenal acting and the rest of the cast does a compelling job from Neil Patrick Harris’s role as Amy’s high school boyfriend to Tyler Perry playing an elite lawyer.  They all have roles that bring something to this entire plot.

Gone Girl

This is possibly the best movie I’ve seen this year and seeing as it has such high expectations on my part and there were outside distractions, the complex story, the smart direction and compelling cast are also matched with a suspenseful score and the tone they set is just so awesome.  Gone Girl is a must-watch for this year whether you’ve read the novel or not.  The changes add to the story and its impact and most of the time, they are so minor but so much more powerful.  I highly recommend this but I also suggest that you go in with as little knowledge as possible or how they set this up.  This is a mind-blowing thriller and thats really all I have to say about this.

Have you seen Gone Girl? Did you read the novel? What do you think of David Fincher? Did you think Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike was made for this role?