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!

Book Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Rating: 4 out of 5

A good friend of mine from graduate school suggested that I read Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (referred to as MPHPC from now on), which was written by Ransom Riggs last year. It was a book I would have never picked out for myself, but I'm glad I got the opportunity to broaden my horizons!

This book is just that, peculiar. It's about a 16-year-old named Jacob who is rebelling against his family's wealth from an extensive line of pharmacies. Because his parents aren't the greatest and he has very few friends, he spends his time idolizing his grandfather, who growing up told him these crazy, spooky stories of monsters and kids with special abilities.

While you first think his grandpa's just exaggerating his traumatic experiences from the Holocaust, he's mysteriously murdered by one of the very monsters Jacob thought were fictional. After being accused of going insane and forced to see a shrink, he and his dad make their way to Wales where his grandpa had stayed with Miss Peregrine and her peculiar children.

What makes MPHPC special, however, are the creepy black-and-white photographs which are sprinkled throughout the pages. According to the author, these are real photos which he gained permission to use from private collectors (although whether they've been altered, I don't know). Here's an example:

Spooky, right? Jacob meets all kinds of new friends, like Emma who can produce fire, or Millard who's invisible. I can't give you many more details than that, but when the monsters return, it's up to them to save themselves...and the world.

This was a very suspenseful, intriguing tale of unusual friendship. The end was abrupt to make way for a sequel, which I'll be sure to read. This book was not terrifying enough to give me nightmares, so I would recommend it to other scaredy-cats like me.

And rumor has it that Tim Burton has signed on to direct the movie adaptation! I think it would be a perfect fit for him, and I can easily picture Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Peregrine, if they aged her a bit. Hmmm, but who would Johnny Depp be? Jacob's dad?

All in all, I'm very pleased that I opened my mind by opening the pages of a book that, quite honestly, made me nervous. But the only thing to fear with MPHPC is the withdrawals you'll experience at the end! I need that sequel!