Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

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I loved this book.  Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a young adult book by author Ransom Riggs and I fell in love with it.  When I heard that it was going to have a big screen treatment, I was cautiously optimistic.  The news that Tim Burton was attached to it did not really change my mind.  Burton has some great films, but also some real bad ones.  Seeing the trailers though made me think that this was not going to be good at all.  I did not enjoy any of the trailers leading up to the film.  I worried that this was going to be another weak YA adaption such as The Maze Runner or Divergent.

I am happy to say that, after seeing the film, I was happy with the adaption.

Jake (Asa Butterfield) has to go see his grandfather Abe (Terence Stamp), who seems to be having a dementia-fueled break down, only to find his place tore up and his grandfather dying.  Abe tells Jake that he needs to find the bird and she will tell him everything.  This strange message is compounded by a birthday gift that leads Jake to remember childhood stories that Abe had told him about a school for children in Wales.

Convincing his father to take him to Wales, Jake finds his way into a time loop and discovers the school full of peculiar children.  A peculiar is someone born with a strange power or ability (also called Mutants in the X-Men universe) who are shunned by the world at large.  They are led by Miss Peregrine (Ava Green), a Ymbryne- which is the term for a woman who can turn into a bird and who can play with time.  Miss Peregrine has created this time loop to keep the peculiar children safe from the monsters that chase them.

The monsters, known as Hollows, are former peculiars themselves who are controlled by the white eyed villains led by Barron (Samuel L. Jackson).  Barron is trying to capture Ymbrynes because their essence can give him ever lasting life.

There are differences between the book and the movie, as always, but the changes did not affect how much I enjoyed Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.  The girl Emma (Ella Purnell) who had originally had a relationship with Abe, and then later with Jake, was, in the novel, the character with the fire power, but in the film, she had power over air and needed to wear lead shoes to keep from floating away.  That peculiarity was a different character in the novel.  These little changes did not bother me.

I will say that I thought the ending encounter with Barron was pretty forgettable and not up to the standards of the rest of the film.  I heard some complain that the film was slow and boring at the beginning, but I did not find it to be.  I thought they did a really strong job of setting up what would be a challenging concept.

Asa Butterfield was really good throughout the film.  I kept thinking about him as Peter Parker, though (not that I would have preferred him to Tom Holland, but Asa Butterfield was reportedly close to winning the role, so I kept picturing him as Peter).  I would have liked to have seen more of the initial problems with Jake and his life so it made more sense as to why he wanted to find these other children.  In the novel, Jake is portrayed as a really troubled teen, but here he simply seemed upset by the loss of his grandfather.

The look of the film is great, although the Hollows do seem a little too CGI.  The peculiar children are great.  There are some who could have used more fleshing out, but several are done very well.

In the end, I was concerned about the film, but I enjoyed watching it.  I was not offended by what was different and I found this more engaging than the trailers led me to believe.  I think this film series, if it continues, could become a very strong franchise.

3.4 stars

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