SPOILER FREE REVIEW
Synopsis (Taken from RottenTomatoes):
Inspired by Ransom Riggs’ YA bestseller, Peculiar follows the adventures of Jake (Asa Butterfield), a grieving boy who stumbles into a time loop populated by strange and wonderful people — just in time to be drawn into their life-or-death battle against a terrifying foe (Samuel L. Jackson). Packed with quirk (and franchise potential), the story sets the table for a cinematic feast of truly Burtonian proportions; unfortunately, reviews describe an end product that’s something less than the sum of its parts. Perhaps too frightening for younger viewers and too loose with the source material for hardcore fans of the books, Burton’s Peculiar Children may prove a hard sell — but one not without its charms for the director’s fans and those seeking something strange and a little dark at the cineplex this weekend.
Starring: Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Samuel L. Jackson
Rating: 7.3/10 Stars (IMDB), 3.7/5 Stars (RottenTomatoes) (As of 10.2.2016)
My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
As I sit at my computer, wrapped in my “I Am Peculiar” blanket that I purchase from the Hot Topic Miss Peregrine’s line, I can’t help but think: Why is it so hard to make a book-to-movie adaptation?
Don’t get me wrong, I honestly can say that I really did enjoy the movie adaptation for Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (I’m going to refer to it as Miss Peregrine’s, for the sake of typing purposes), but there were parts of it that I felt simply had fallen apart by the time we hit the end of the movie.
For the first, I want to say, hour and fifteen minutes of the movie, the adaption struck true to the book. It was paced well, we got to get to know all of the characters and find our empathy for them, and we were quietly eased into the Peculiar world without confusion. The cinematography was beautiful, the characters felt true to the 1943 time period that they were forever stuck looping through, and the colors were breathtaking. I felt myself getting sucked into the story all over again and I was truly grateful for that.
Since it is a Tim Burton film, I was rather surprised that it wasn’t creepier. When I was reading the first book, there were times where I had to set it down because I was terrified of the possibility of having nightmares that night (I’m a bit of a scaredy cat). However, that wasn’t the case with this movie. I never turned away from the screen, and I always felt very comfortable with the level of creepy factors that were introduced within the film. And, true to Burton form, we even got a moment of claymation when Enoch was displaying his Peculiarity for Jacob.
Nevertheless, I did come into this movie with low expectations. (I suppose I should have started with this point first – oh well.) It was hard for me to get through the books, so you can’t label me as a hardcore fan of the trilogy. I admired the story that Ransom created, but it did take me almost two months to read all of the books. Due to that fact, I wasn’t expecting the adaptation to be great or anything, but I was pleasantly surprised with the first half of the film. It was beautiful, it rang rather true to the books, and it was everything and strong adaptation should be.
And then the movie kept going.
In order to talk about what I didn’t like about the movie, I am going to have a section that has slight spoilers about it. So if you have not seen the movie, or read all of the books, stop here! Or skip down to my spoiler free continuation.
The one thing that I was rather frustrated with was what they did to Emma’s character. She was fire! Why is she the one with the air peculiarity? When I saw the movie, I understood. It turns out, Olive and Emma were switched in their Peculiarity. This was a result of the events that occurred in the second half of the movie, which was a weird brush over of the events in book two and a piece of the final show down in book three – it was weird and confusing and not thought out well. Anyways, to get to what I was trying to say, they needed Emma to have the air Peculiarity in order for her role as a main character to make sense. If she was still in charge of fire, they would not have been able to accomplish the changes that they wanted to make.
And I have to say, those second half of the movie changes that they made… I’m not sure that they were made for the better. When we reached the end of book one, I had a moment of: “Okay, this is a weird and rather sudden place to – Oh? We’re still going…? Why?”. In the second novel, when the kids escaped their collapsing loop, they escaped on rowboats and continued on a quest of loop jumping in order to save Miss Peregrine from her impending peril. In the third novel, the kids discovered this master mansion that would allow them to step into a room and step into another loop; this was the grand finale, and wonderful showdown to defeat the Hollows once and for all.
In the movie, we somehow managed to glaze over book two, completely distort the true purpose of time loops, and ended up with a part of book three. I was sitting in the theatre with a “what the actual hell” expression on my face. In addition, the ending was left pretty open for another movie to occur, but seeing as they already, in a way, ran out of source material, I am not sure as to how that is going to work.
The final issue that I had with the movie: Samuel L. Jackson. *Gasp* I know, I’m shocked that I feel this way as well. Now, I love Sam Jackson as an actor. He’s talented, he scores amazing roles; however, he was not the right fit for this movie. You see, he played the villain, and his villain’s always come with a strange humor. In the case of this movie, the humor always came at bad timing and took away from the tension and importance of the moment. Which was disappointing from my standpoint, but it is what it is.
END OF SPOILER SECTION
In the end, I found the casting to be perfect for this movie. Each actor and actress really took on the role of their character and I wasn’t distracted by them as a person, but was truly able to sink my teeth into the movie and enjoy it for what it was. They were fun, spunky, serious – whatever they needed to be, they did it well and I was very impressed with all of them, child and adult alike.
Do I think these movies are going to be shaped into a franchise? Honestly, I’m not sure. It did justice for the first book, but the end of the movie was messy and felt rushed, which left doubt as to how much material they will have for a continuation.
Do I think this movie will do well in theatres? I think it will. It has something for a range of ages, and as a nineteen year old college student, I can honestly say that I did enjoy what they offered.