Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

A scene in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. (NuMetro)
A scene in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. (NuMetro)

What it's about:

When Jake discovers clues to a mystery that spans alternate realities and times, he uncovers a secret refuge known as Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As he learns about the residents and their unusual abilities, Jake realises that safety is just an illusion, and that danger lurks in the form of powerful, hidden enemies. Jake must figure out who is real, who can be trusted, and who he really is.

What it's about:

When I heard Tim Burton was going to direct one of the best books I’ve recently read, I thought they couldn’t choose a more suitable director. The book’s macabre is a perfect fit for Burton’s style, and he’s not one to shy away from seriously dark parts in a book. Never have I ever been so disappointed in a book-to-movie adaptation, and if you have read even half of the books, you would hate this movie too. Looking past the dismal adaptation, the film itself is a cobbled together disaster where character are two-dimensional trinkets who is more apt as backdrop props in what is beautifully ghoulish production set.

After the horrid death of his grandfather, Jacob struggles to process his loss. After finding out where his grandfather used to live as a boy, his deadbeat dad flies them both over to the little island to find the children’s home. Instead, Jacob discovers a whole world of peculiar people, and they desperately need his help.

(SPOILERS: If you haven’t read the books, please skip to the next paragraph)

Now that it’s just us who have read the book, I can begin my rant… *clears throat* WHAT THE ACTUAL F…udge??? I knew they had changed the lead love interest for Jacob from a hot-blooded fire starter to the wispy air elemental, but I trusted Burton, I thought the change would be make for an interesting twist. No such luck. This ended up changing her relationship with Jacob dramatically. Emma went from being a badass who held a knife to Jacob’s throat when they first met and projected her anger for his grandfather leaving on to him, into a floaty airhead that didn’t get phased at all over Abe’s death. I know filmmakers have artistic license but the reason the book was so good was not because of Jacob but because of Emma. And the terrifying Hollows were turned into less-scary monsters that just eat your eyes instead of DEVOURING FLESH OF CHILDREN. 

Okay, we’re back with the non-readers.

The biggest problem to grasp is the fact the THREE books were crammed into ONE movie. They were so scared of the curse of young adult movies that never made their sequels, they didn’t realise that the Peculiar Children story is a unique one and doesn’t fit in with the genre. I didn’t even realise this was the case until more than halfway through and my heart sank even more.

This led to the rushing past of Jacob’s and Emma’s important character development, where they didn’t even spend 2 minutes on establishing either character’s personality and their traumas. The only real win was Eva Green as Miss Peregrine and Samuel L. Jackson as Mr Barron. Green as always slays as the strict but kind childminder, and I have to say looks awesome with a crossbow. Mr Barron is one of the few changes that made sense. Jackson does his usual stunt, but it worked with the character and helped distract, at least for a while, the rest of the terrible plot.

What makes it even worse is that the writer who adapted the book, Jane Goldman, is responsible for great films partly in thanks to their fantastic scripts, like Kick-Ass, the good X-Men reboot movies, and Kingsman: The Secret Service. Peculiar Children’s script was an awful mess, with the audience caring little to nothing for most of the characters.

To be fair, asking someone to cram all the emotional intensity and bizarre twists of three books into one script is a tall order, but the fault also lies heavily with Burton himself. Despite the style of the production, which was one of the only things on point, it felt like Burton’s director vision was completely missing. There were spurts of his peculiar touch early on, but it had none of the pizazz from his other films. It’s one of those cases where it feels like the studio meddled again, but if that’s not the case then Burton gave up on the vision completely. I would have been a little calmer regarding the adaptation if I could only get a decent Burton movie, and unfortunately this was ranks at the bottom.

Both book fans and Burton fans will be painfully disappointed by Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and unfortunately not even Green and Jackson makes it worth a watch. Although it’s not terrible compared to many other films, it’s terrible in how it met expectations, that they went for a PG film instead of a 13V, and that they did not make it a trilogy. In the process, the story lost its weirdness, horror, emotion and intrigue in the process.