I was almost childishly excited about the release of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. I loved the books, the trailer looked amazing, and it was Tim Burton directing so I was always going to have high hopes and dreams! In some ways, this film really didn’t disappoint!
Based on the book of the same name by Ransom Riggs (2011), Jake Portman (Asa Butterfield), a boringly normal boy from Florida, witnesses his grandfather’s (Terence Stamp) death. In the months following, undergoing therapy, Jake tries to piece together his grandfather’s dying message: Find Emmerson. Find the Bird. His search takes him across the Atlantic to Cairnholm, Wales, on the search for the Miss Peregrine of his childhood stories. There, he finds a house, in a time loop, forever repeating September 3rd 1943, filled with children with peculiar gifts. The discovery of the house turns Jake’s ordinary life upside down, as he discovers his grandfather’s stories of a girl who can float, an invisible boy, a child stronger than ten men amongst others, are real. They live in the time loop, repeating the same day over and over, cared for by Miss Peregrine (Eva Green). When the time loop is invaded and Miss Peregrine captured, the Peculiar children must use their abilities to save themselves and get their Miss Peregrine back!
Having read the books, I already had high expectations, further buoyed by the fact it was Tim Burton directing and Eva Green as Miss Peregrine. I must admit, for a Tim Burton, it felt quite tame – so either I have been watching way too many wacky films or my tolerance for the peculiar is quite high! I loved Eva Green as Miss Peregrine, quirky, steampunk, very protective and determined to keep her children safe at all costs. The appearance of Judi Dench as Miss Avocet was incredibly exciting as I wasn’t expecting it, with her ymbryne character being significantly softer and maternal in contrast to Miss Peregrine.
The plot deviates quite significantly to the book about halfway through, coinciding with the end of book 1 and the start of book 2 in the Peculiar Children book series. The key villain, Barron (Samuel L. Jackson) leader of the ‘Wights’ has the peculiarity to change his appearance at will and is suitably villainous. However, despite the deviations from the book, the film was incredibly exciting, quirky and interesting.
One issue I did have however: In the book, Emma (Ella Purnell) is Jake’s love interest. Her peculiarity is pyrotechnic – she can create fire and has a sparky personality to match. She is fiercely protective and the de facto leader when Miss Peregrine is taken. In the film, Emma’s fire peculiarity has been switched with Olive’s lighter-than-air peculiarity and the ages jiggled about a bit. In the books, Jake and Emma are well matched, in the films, they work quite well, but there is the issue of Emma being floated behind Jake like a balloon, rather than standing at his side creating mayhem with her hands and being spiteful towards the wights. Maybe it is the feminist in me, but I wish they had kept Emma as the firemaker, rather than Olive. There was no need to switch them around.
So, to conclude. I have a sneaky suspicion this movie will be another Golden Compass in that people will either love it or hate it, rate it or slate it (for the record, I love it and love the books as well. They are separate). In the case of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, I loved it. I loved Miss Peregrine, I loved the steampunky lost in time aspects, I loved the artistic realization of the Hollowgast, wasn’t a huge fan of the Emma/Olive switch up and I thought the changes to the plot from the book worked really well!
I even got home and drew Miss Peregrine (the feature image for this post!)!