Based on Ransom Riggs‘s debut book and directed by Tim Burton, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children follows teenager Jacob (Asa Butterfield), who sets off to a mysterious Welsh island, using clues from his grandpa’s old photographs, to find out who his grandpa really was after his unexplained death. Led to a large, abandoned orphanage, run by the mystical Miss Peregrine (Eva Green), Jacob begins an adventure that spans different worlds and times. But the mystery and danger deepen as he gets to know the residents and about their special powers, as well as the powers of their enemies. Chosen to protect the Peculiar Children, Jacob must discover his own power to save his new friends from the nightmarish Hollows and Wights, who are led by the mysterious Mr Barron (Samuel L Jackson).
The following post is a review of the film only. You can read my review of the book on its own here or my comparison of the film to the book here.
Young adult book adaptations come and go. Some remain classic franchises, some fizzle out with each instalment, whilst others miss the mark from the word ‘go’. So it’s exciting to have another franchise in the works and, fortunately, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is one to remain excited about.
With a brilliant young cast and a stunning Eva Green leading their way, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a stylish and contemporary adaptation, filled with excellent cinematography and imaginative concepts.
For a young adult fantasy, Tim Burton does a pretty decent job with Ransom Riggs‘ exceptional book. With the addition of his quirky visuals, a dark subplot filled with evil villains and gruesome monsters, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is creepy enough to keep audiences intrigued.
However, as an adaptation, Burton has focused on entertainment over plot development. The aspects of time travel don’t completely work with his addition of alternative loops and portals, which does come across as quite muddled, but whilst much of the first half of the story remains faithful to the book, the end is so different that it’s almost unrecognisable.
Burton seems to have gone off on his own tangent to lighten the psychological weight of the book, making it more ‘fun’ by including more villains and loops and getting all of the characters involved in a funfair snowball fight. Whilst this works for watchers who haven’t read the book, allowing the story to make sense in its context and speeding up the pace of the book, adding in some amazing visuals and showing off the story’s potential, it changes a lot for readers who know what’s to come in the rest of the series.
It seems as though Burton only intends to make the one film, so he has developed the characters beyond the little we know of them at this point in the book. Instead of focusing on the psychological aspects of the book, Burton has focused on ‘fun’, which makes the film adaptation a lot more entertaining, but also a little muddled at times.
That being said, Burton does bring the children and their home to life with phenomenal visuals, and if this is going to be a standalone film, then he makes the story work well enough. We may not be excited to carry on the adventures of these children as we are in the books, but at least audiences will feel fulfilled.
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