This first part I’m writing at the beginning of 2016. I have just finished reading the book Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children and am in awe of the book. I read the book in about a week, this was an ok speed for me since I was only reading on the train to and from work. This also means that the book reads very good and the pace was quick enough for me to keep on reading. I am wondering how Tim Burton will bring certain parts of the book to live, what his vision is on the story. On the other hand, I’m very curious to see the film because if this book is adapted in typical Tim Burton style, it will bring more fans to the book series and it will just be a treat for me since I love Tim’s work.
Normally, when we are not talking about book adaptations (especially books I love), Tim Burton is one of my favorite directors. I love a lot of his work and have adored the worlds he has created in the past.
I hadn’t really watched ahead, so I had seen the trailers but not who was going to be in the film that wasn’t mentioned in the trailer. I was pleasantly surprised to see Dame Judi Dench, Rupert Everett and Chris O’Dowd in the opening credits.
The film starts with a bit more action that I remember from the start of the book (but then again we got to know Jake much better in those scenes in the book than we do now). A lot of the scenes that are missing in the beginning are being shown later on as flashbacks.
The monster (hollowgast) that is shown lurking in the woods where Jake’s grandfather is murdered is not like I imagined it to be, for me they were more human-like, but I did like the way they were depicted here.
Once we are on the island of Cairnholm, I started to shake my head more and more when it came to artistic decisions. I know I should be a very proud Belgian and say look the house for peculiar children is actually a house in Brasschaat, Antwerp and it is a wonderful house but is not how I had it in my mind and especially not the inside. Ransom Riggs described the house perfectly, in the current state and the war-time state that this comes second to that image in my mind.
I’m not very happy with the fact and don’t understand why they have switched the powers of Emma and Olive. Well in the scenario they have put down for the film it was needed for the whole boat/ breathing scene but that means that if they would make a sequel that the story is even farther from the books (but a sequel should be taking the ending into account).
The part at the house is very much the same and we get to know the children and their different powers. Miss Peregrine is maybe a bit younger than I imagined and prettier, to me she was more nanny McFee than Mary Poppins in mind. I loved how they gave her a very bird-like look.
From the moment Mr Barron gets in the loop and takes Miss Peregrine (she goes on her own account to “save” the children, which are left in the care of Miss Avocet) and the loop isn’t restarted when the bomb falls, the story is maybe more like an action film but less like the story we need and thus practically invented by Tim Burton (and/or the scenario writers).
The children follow Mr Barron to a time loop in Blackpool, the lime loop of Miss Avocet and try to free Miss Peregrine. They take a cruise liner that is sunken to the ocean floor right in front of the island of Cairnholm. In the book, they take small motor boats if I’m remembering right and we are stopping there before we go over to the second book. In the book, they have to go to London which is a further journey but very eventful. But here in the film, we’re at Blackpool and the children need to fight. I think it was very imaginative to use snow and candy to make the monsters visible but this does mean exposing the monsters and themselves in the process to the public.
On that cruise liner were still some skeletons of passengers. Enoch uses his power to animate inanimate things to make them fight for them. This reminds me of a mixture between the first Pirates of the Caribbean film and the “Hey boy, hey girl” video clip by the Chemical Brothers.
After the fight, the children except for Jake go back to their own time and since the Blackpool loop is in 2016, Jake only needs to stay there a little longer to get back to his own time.
This is where it becomes a soppy love story. Jake’s grandfather encourages him to go after Emma. Since he (grandfather) has mapped most of the loops, Jake can just use them to get from one time period to the next. Just to get back at Blackpool pier in time to get on the cruise liner again.
When the film ended, I actually swore out loud in the cinema, that my friend had to remind me that there were children in the room. It really was because I was frustrated with what they did with the story. I hope Ransom Riggs had artistic approval but not story approval, otherwise, he should have fought more for his story to be told correctly.
The dark Tim Burton style was the right style for this film. From the moment I heard he was directing I knew the feeling would be right. To prove this I added the remade pictures to this post .They are mostly remakes of the ones in the books with the actors in the roles that they are playing.
To conclude, there was a lot of potential for this film: right director for the dark atmosphere, a story that makes people read on and on in the books but because of a rewrite of the story it just all felt off.