Potter and Snicket

It's comforting to know I'm not the only person unimpressed by the whole Harry Potter craze. Or more precisely: impressed by the magnitude of the craze, unimpressed by its content.

I watched both the second Harry Potter movie and Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events yesterday; the latter was charming and delightful, the former put me to sleep. I can see why a child would like Harry Potter, for the same reason I can understand the appeal of Pokeman. But there are only so many overly-cutesy character names, supernatural hijinks, and aw-shucks-ain't-I-adorably-cute, too-bad-I-have-no-talent actors (with the sole exception of the always exceptional Kenneth Branagh) a postpubescent viewer can take before one must gag.

Maybe the books are better. I don't know. And I don't plan to know, unless I miraculously run out of other interesting books to read - books which I don't yet have good reason to avoid. Unless the films are absolutely nothing like the books -- a premise very much in doubt based on what most other reviewers have written -- they alone are enough to turn me off from the whole enterprise.

Lemony Snicket, on the other hand, feels like a children's book, primarily because of its narration by Jude Law. It avoids the pitfalls of Potter by impressing us not with magical special effects, but with a superb cast, Tim Burton-style set design, and of course, wonderous story telling. Jim Carrey is excellent as usual, and the child actors show great promise. My only casting complaint is Cedric the Entertainer, who comes across as a token placement - why cast a well-known black professional comedian in a minor role with almost no dialogue?

The movie fizzles instead of ending with a bang, and too many plot points are left unresolved. Clearly we are expecting a sequel -- the eleventh book in the series has already been published -- but even so, audiences expect and deserve a proper conclusion, even if only as an interlude to the next part of the series. This is something the Lord of The Rings accomplishes well.

Despite its disappointing ending, the closing credits were spectacular - so good, to quote New York Times critic Elvis Mitchell on Kyle Cooper's also impressive credit sequences, "they're almost worth sitting through the film for." The closing credits are in the style of 60s and 70s-era opening credits sequences like the ones found in It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World or the original Freaky Friday, but with a darker, gothic mood. It's a shame they didn't use the same artist for an opening sequence as well. I hesitate to recommend the movie just for that, but if you do decide to see it, be sure to stay for the credits.

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Odd you mention the closing

Odd you mention the closing credits. I just bought the sound track today for the closing credits music alone. Although I did enjoy the entire score, what caught my attention was during the credits.

Yeah, I forget about how

Yeah, I forget about how much the music added to the closing credits. Thanks for pointing that out!

The credits were the best

The credits were the best part of the movie. Other than that, I found it so-so, because of the weird fizzly plot. Whereas I quite enjoy the more convention dramatic arc of Harry Potter.