From Netflix, Barry Sonnenfeld and Mark Hudis bring us an updated version of the young adult novel series, “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” a story arc of three children and a madman who will stop at nothing to obtain their fortune.  Paramount previously released a film version of this series in 2004.

Lending the production star-credit, Neil Patrick Harris plays the villainous and not-so-bright Count Olaf.  Malina Weissman plays Violet Bouldelaire, the inventive one. Louis Hynes plays Klaus, the reader and Pressly Smith plays Sunny the infant, who has a knack for biting everything she sees. In the “role” of Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler) is ‘Family Guy’ veteran Patrick Warburton, providing a unique commentary.  K. Todd Freeman plays the dim-witted banker, Arthur Poe.  Joan Cusack is among a bevy of supporting actors throughout the season, playing integral roles in the Bouldelaire children.

This eight episode season covers the first four of Lemony Snickets’ novels, with the remaining novels meant to cover two more seasons.  There are story moments that derail themselves and others that feel stiff, perhaps even a bit rushed. The visual look achieved through the well-conceived set pieces and the effective CGI effects make for an overall enjoyable, often hilarious and modern take on the novels.

Although the season ultimately uneven, episodes 2 and 3 were my favorite, while episodes 7 and 8 were the least inspired, and are therefore my least favorite.

Fans of the novel series will find much to like here as it remains faithful to its source material.  Harris is the highlight of the series, in a role that he was destined to play.

“A Series of Unfortunate Events” season 1 is now streaming on exclusively on Netflix.

From an early age, Brian Wallinger pursued his filmmaking dreams through several shorts, documentaries and photography.  He is now expanding his horizons towards film criticism and The Movie Revue is proud to have him contributing his thoughts on film and television.