Movie Review: "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children"

Image: Coming Soon

Rating: 2 out of 5

Well, as much as I wanted this film adaptation to be a raving success, I came home last night angry and disappointed. To be fair, I've never been much of a Tim Burton fan, but I felt that his penchant for creepy cool tales would be fitting for the popular Ransom Riggs novel about a supernatural group of misfits.

Let's start off with the few pros of the movie. I enjoyed the casting: Asa Butterfield as Jacob was a bit wooden and Eva Green was inappropriately young for the role of the elderly Miss Peregrine, but overall the actors worked well together. I even accepted the strange decision to cast Allison Janney as Dr. Golan, who then changes form into the villainous wight known as Barron, played by Samuel L. Jackson, as simply a change in creative direction to support diversity.

The special effects were also impressive, and it was fun to see all the children show off their peculiar powers. I also greatly appreciated how the hollowghasts came to life: they were the tentacled Slenderman-esque monsters that I imagined.

Unfortunately, that's where my compliments end. All the world-building and character development that occurred in the first half of the film came crashing down as the plot veered off course.

Nothing about the last half of the movie adheres to the novel. This is because the studio is not likely to make any sequels. It dawned on me that when Jacob and friends actually rescue Miss Peregrine instead of watch in horror as Dr. Golan kidnaps her that there would be no cliffhanger ending. And when the logic of the time loop is altered so that Jacob's grandfather lives, that's when I literally threw my hands up in the air and gave up all hope for cinematic redemption.

This adaptation is a prime example of how insulting it is when Hollywood uses the original ideas of authors to make money, and yet spit in the faces of the fans who are so passionate about these stories.It continues to boggle my mind why directors can't just look at books as paint-by-numbers. All the hard work has been done; you just need to follow directions and fill in the colors. And yet, this task was clearly too difficult for Burton.

As soon as I learned in the trailer that Emma and Olive's peculiarities had been swapped, I saw massive red flags but chose to remain optimistic. Now that I've seen the movie in its entirety, I can't even recommend it to non-fans of Miss Peregrine. It's a clumsy, nonsensical mess. All I can hope now is that my intuition is correct and Hollywood won't be turning Riggs' sequels into equally horrendous failures. Fingers crossed!

Movie Review: The Great Gatsby

Rating: 4 out of 5

Well, well, old sport! I'm glad to say that I was pleasantly surprised by the latest rendition of F. Scott Fitzgerald's literary masterpiece which most of us know and love.However, I can understand why critics are especially negative with this film.

With Baz Luhrmann as director and screenwriter and Jay Z as executive producer, we all knew that this could have been an extravagant hot mess. Of course, most still think it is, but I'm of the opinion that it could have been so much worse.

I mean, who could deny how absolutely gorgeous the costumes, cars, and sets were! I'll deal with Gatsby's irritating repetition of his catchphrase "old sport," because all the shimmer and sparkle made me want to throw on a flapper dress and learn the foxtrot!

Given all the pomp and circumstance, I wasn't expecting such a character-driven film. I felt that the casting was excellent, and I'm not just talking about Leonardo "He STILL doesn't have an Oscar?!" DiCaprio.

Carey Mulligan was an exquisite Daisy, torn between her love for Gatsby and her obligations as a respectable married woman. Joel Edgerton nailed it as her racist, possessive husband Tom Buchanan. Even Tobey Maguire made a decent Nick Carraway, but that's mostly because both he and Nick have people constantly wondering, "How did this square get into the cool kids' club?"

Sure, this movie was over-the-top and melodramatic. Might I add that the 1974 version was too, just without all the fireworks and confetti. And don't forget that Fitzgerald's characters were written to be affected and biased! Everyone's playing a role in this grand vision inside their own heads--which is why it's so tragic when everything falls apart.

Cinematically, this film suffers from its emphasis on gratuitous 3D scenes. I could do without the frequent shots of the two mansions across the bay or the tacky depiction of Myrtle's unfortunate end. But after watching "Romeo + Juliet" and "Moulin Rouge!," it's not like Luhrmann's flamboyant style was at all shocking.

What I wasn't expecting was how clever this adaptation was, tipping its hat to the one before it. I caught two references to the 1974 predecessor, one where a party guest repeats Mia Farrow's famous line, but this time to Nick instead of Gatsby.

The hissy fit in which Farrow throws clothes at Robert Redford was also altered to Dicaprio delightedly tossing the clothes to Mulligan to display his newfound wealth.

Even the soundtrack was more subtle than I thought it would be. I smirked when I heard "Crazy in Love" during Gatsby's tea party-induced anxiety, but the songs work in a weird way. And if Kanye West, Lana del Rey, and Gotye make The Great Gatsby more relevant for the Millennial generation, so be it.

So on a scale from "The Golden Compass" to "Fight Club" in terms of how good this adaptation was translating book to film, I'd give "The Great Gatsby" an above average. Perhaps along the same lines as "The Hunger Games."

I think that The Telegraph's review put it best when finding the perfect piece of dialogue to sum up the sentiment of this remake:

“Do you think it’s too much?” frets Gatsby, after burying Nick’s living room in flowers in advance of his fateful afternoon tea with Daisy. “I think it’s what you want,” shrugs Nick. Then Gatsby, with a thoughtful look and no apology: “I think so, too.”