A while back my sister asked me if I ever saw the film or read the book, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. I told her I hadn’t, but I knew of it and it was on my to-read list. She had recently watched it and couldn’t follow all the time loops, which was why she was asking me about it. I told her we had a copy at the library which I then decided to check out and read.
I read it and loved it! In fact I want to add it to Catherine Morland’s Reading List, but just haven’t had a chance yet. You know, so many books to review, so little time.
I really, really loved book one; book two I wasn’t as into, and book three I felt was a perfect conclusion. After I had finished the original trilogy (as he decided to write more) I was excited to watch the Tim Burton movie. Yep, this is our Tim Burton annual pick.
I watched it, and I did not like it.
The visuals were amazing, that is one thing that Tim Burton really captured well, but they changed so much, cut out so much, and packed three plots into one movie-it really disappointed me. In fact what I think he should have done was two films. I would have combined book one and two together, leaving off at the big twist of book two. Then have the second film just be book three.
So Jake is heir to a CVS type empire, and lives in Florida. He’s never felt any connection to the people around him, having only one friend. He also doesn’t have the best family life as his parents do not get along. He is really close to his grandpa, Abe Portman.
Jake had spent a lot of time with his grandpa, Abe taught him to shoot and tells him all these stories of peculiar people he met in Wales, the orphanage he was sent to during WWII.
However, Jake’s life takes a dismal turn when he discovers his grandfather dead with his eyes missing. This severely traumatizes him and he starts seeing a therapist, who quickly encourages him up go to Wales were his grandpa had lived and met the “peculiars”. Now I thought this aspect of the book was really interesting, him going to therapy, trying to figure out what really happened, finding his birthday gift from grandpa and it containing a clue he must follow. I know it doesn’t translate as well to film, but I wish they had shown the time it took, and the time spend with his therapist instead of it being like session two-go to Wales. I really did not like that.
Jake goes to Wales with his father and discovers his grandfather’s stories weren’t stories, but all true. He immediately meets Miss Peregrine, an ymbryne (one who watches over peculiars and can create time loops) and the peculiars, the people from his grandpa’s stories, who are real and still the same age as when Abe was a boy. It turns out that they are in a time loop of it always being September 3, 1943. As long as they return to their time loop everyday they will remain the same age, but if they were to step out of it that time loop, they would immediately start aging, catching up to whatever age they would be in 2016. They also tell Jake of his ability to see Hollowgasts, an ability shared with his grandfather. Hollowgasts are people who wanted to be peculiar/live forever and a botched experiment created them. They hunt the peculiars and eat their eyes, and in the book were lead by Miss Peregrine’s brother.
Now this was another thing I don’t like. In the book Jake doesn’t find out right away and his reveal of being the only one who can see/sense the Hollowgasts; along with some other cool abilities is done in such an awesome way. I much rather prefer the way the book did it, a surprise to all (although Miss Peregrine suspected), than this savior/choosen one storyline we were given. It’s like they took out all the things that made the book interesting and instead went with what is always done.
So Jake meets the different kids falling for Emma, his grandpa’s ex girlfriend (it was weird in the book and it is weird in the film) But they change her from having hands that lit on fire to floating. I really didn’t like that change as Emma had a fiery temper and was really emotional, her powers flaring up when she was charged (or flooding her when she is flushed)-in this her character isn’t very well developed and she is just basically a manic pixie dream girl.
In this the Hollowgasts are not lead by Miss Perevrine’s brother but a man called Mr. Barron, played by Samuel L. Jackson.
A wounded Ymbryne, Miss Avocet, comes to Miss Peregrine and the peculiars to ask for their help as she and those in her time loop were attacked by Mr. Barron who wants to try and redo the experiment. Jake is sent back as Miss Peregrine and the peculiars will need to create a new time loop. When Jake goes back to modern day, he discovers the signs of a Hollowgasts and goes back to warn his friends, but the Hollowgasts follow them as it turns out that Mr. Barron not only killed his grandpa but also became his Thera for the sole plan to get Jake to the island to find Miss Peregrine. It’s not as good as the book as there was a whole lot more emotional impact and betrayal.
Mr. Barron forces Miss Peregrine into becoming a bird and leaves the children in 1943, no longer a time loop-nothing as in real history the house was destroyed by a bomb, and they have to try and hunt them down and save Miss Peregrine. The book is better as they think they saved Miss Peregrine, but she’s stuck in bird form as she waited too long and can’t change back-they trek through 1943 England trying to find another ymbryne-only to discover they been betrayed all along. It is a much interesting storyline and there is more drama and fear then then going to Blackpool and having an ordinary film ending. I mean the fight scene was cool, I loved the callback to Jason and the Argonauts and James and the Giant Peach.
but the film was just so ordinary which makes me sad as peculiar is in the title.
The book was very different and interesting and I wish they had gone that avenue instead of making it every teen fantasy where they find out they have powers and have to fight the bad guy. Like they copied Harry Potter instead of going the The Chronicles of Prydain route, which would have been a better avenue.
So the film was only okay, but in comparison to the book? A disaster. I definitely don’t feel the desire to rewatch this film-but I would reread the books.
For more Tim Burton films, go to A Man Dressed as a Giant Bat, Psychotic Deformed Man Wrecking Havoc, and a Zombie Cat Woman…A Batman Christmas: Batman Returns (1992)