Sunday, October 2, 2016

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children Movie Review

What is Tim Burton's peculiarity? Turning a good book into a bad movie, apparently. Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children is written by Ransom Riggs and was released in 2011. It topped the New York Times Best Sellers List. The sequels, Hollow City and Library of Souls, were also best sellers. Bookworms like myself were ecstatic when it was announced that visionary director Tim Burton would be making a film about the peculiar children we had grown to love. Sadly, I left the theater feeling extremely disappointed.

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children was released on September 30, 2016. The film is rated PG-13 and has a run time of 2 hours and 7 minutes. The film stars Eva Green, Samuel L. Jackson, Judy Dench, Asa Butterfield and Ella Purnell. It is the story of teenager Jacob Portman, who tragically finds his grandfather after he has been attacked. With his dying breath, Abe Portman tells Jacob to find the island and the home where he grew up. Jacob grew up with his grandfather telling him fantastic stories about children with special abilities at Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children. He also provided Jacob with photographic evidence, a unique collection of antique photographs. Jacob travels to the island with his father to find the home, only to discover that it was bombed by the Germans during World War II. Miraculously, Jacob comes across the peculiar children who are very much alive and haven't aged since 1943. He learns that they were protected by Miss Peregrine who created a time loop. Jacob discovers that he himself is peculiar. Unfortunately their time loop is raided by an enemy. Miss Peregrine is kidnapped and the children must combine their powers in a mission to rescue her.

The first half the of film follows the plot of the book with some changes; most notably that Olive and Emma have switched powers for the cinematic version. In the novel, Emma has fire powers. Olive is much younger and is lighter than air. In response to fans being outraged over the power swap, Tim Burton released a statement prior to the films release, stating that a love interest who was lighter than air was a better visual on screen. I respectfully disagree. In the book, Emma had a temper to match her peculiarity of fire. In the movie, Emma is very sweet. The idea that her love interest (Jacob) had to pull her along on a rope or hold her, made her more submissive in my opinion. She was weakened on screen. No fire power. No fiery personality. Just a sweet, submissive girl. The same can be said for Olive. In the book she is much younger and has the peculiarity of air. In the movie, she is older and has the gift of fire. As the plot progressed, it was revealed why she was made an older age; so she could be a love interest to a boy who is very clearly a jerk. These female characters were severely altered. Why? For romance? Because boys can't fall in love with a strong female character? There's also the case of gender swapping, a certain character surviving when they should not and one dying when they are very much alive by book 3.

The first half of the movie is a condensed version of the book. The second half is completely new writing which oddly enough, ends the story thus making it very clear that Hollow City and Library of Souls will not be made. This sadly, will not be a trilogy. The movie gets weird with the new writing once Samuel L. Jackson enters the story. The events taking place here on after, does not blend well with the first half of the film. The tone is different. Samuel L. Jackson, although a very fine actor, does not perform well in this picture. His lines are also painfully cheesy. Very little story line is pulled from the other two books. Although the film is beautifully shot and the actors are great, it lacks character development. The movie gives each character a brief introduction and then moves on. Many of them in fact, appear to be useless.

All in all, this movie had great potential. The books are gorgeous, complete with antique photographs to accompany the story. The problem is, Tim Burton and screenwriter Jane Goldman butted in way too much. They tried making this their own instead of sticking with the source material. Once the story strays from the Ransom Riggs novel, it becomes a mess. I understand condensing books when they transfer onto the big screen but when you stray this far, you should have not bothered to make the film at all. Do yourself a favor and read the three books.

I hope it's not to soon to declare that I want a reboot. Netflix series maybe?

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