‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’ fails to live up to books

October 13, 2016 — by Michelle Lee and Katherine Zhou

Based on author Ransom Riggs’ best-selling book series, the movie, released on Sept. 30, follows the basic “hero” plotline: an adolescent  protagonist, Jake Portman, doesn’t fit in his regular life (in Florida). After a terrifying call to action (his grandfather mysteriously dying), he goes on an adventure to a new world (a house for children who have “peculiar” powers, cared for by Miss Peregrine). There, he discovers a new truth about himself: He has these magical powers himself.

 

At first we were hesitant to watch the movie “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children,” out of fear that the movie adaptation might ruin the beauty of the original book series. We were convinced to see it only after discovering Tim Burton was directing it; after all, Burton is well known for creating eerie movies, a perfect match for the scary elements of the novel.

But instead of being a Burton classic, we were let down by the silver-screen version of the book.

Based on author Ransom Riggs’ best-selling book series, the movie, released on Sept. 30, follows the basic “hero” plotline: an adolescent  protagonist, Jake Portman, doesn’t fit in his regular life (in Florida). After a terrifying call to action (his grandfather mysteriously dying), he goes on an adventure to a new world (a house for children who have “peculiar” powers, cared for by Miss Peregrine). There, he discovers a new truth about himself: He has these magical powers himself.

Unfortunately, this movie was nothing like Burton’s spectacular classics such as “Beetlejuice” and “Edward Scissorhands.” This movie is just another in a long line of live-action movies with a convoluted and illogical plotline.

The plotline becomes mangled when Jake discovers a 1943 eternal loop the children are stuck in, and changes between visiting there and present time. Jake seems to be extremely concerned with returning to the present time, yet when the book reaches its resolution, he forgets about this concern completely. Burton also adds illogical elements such as Jake’s dad, who could not care less that his teenage son is missing for days on a foreign island.

Along with these problems, during the climax of the movie, although each child could singlehandedly defeat all of the antagonists (example: a girl literally has fire hands), their use of power is almost comedic. (See: the girl sets a tiny bit of an enemy’s jacket on fire, which he pats away. Then he slaps her, and she simply falls to the ground.)

Not to mention, the climax, designed to provoke fear, caused us to immediately burst into laughter as we quietly continued our debate on whether Asa Butterfield, who plays Jake, or Finlay MacMillan, who plays the character Enoch, was more attractive.

To Burton’s credit, the movie did have its moments. The movie is visually beautiful, overcast with gloomy colors and shadows, with unique-looking characters with big eyes and vibrant costume design.

By contrast, the book succeeds in many areas the movie does not; it is sufficiently scary, relying on the reader's imagination and real-life pictures inserted in its pages to haunt the reader. The novel is a page-turner, packed with excitement, while the movie left us confused and bored.

So instead of spending the two hours at the movie theater watching “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children,” take an afternoon to read the tales of Jake on his venture into the world of peculiars. We promise you won’t be disappointed.

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