Fans everywhere have all dealt with the age-old conundrum: are the books really better than the movies? Ransom Riggs’s beloved Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is no different, being released into theaters Sept. 30, 2016.
Like many others, the film’s plot does not diverge much from that of the original novel. Jake (Jacob Portman), the protagonist, has grown up listening to his grandfather (Abe Portman)’s stories about his time in World War II. After Abe’s mysterious death, Jake begins to wonder if there is more to the stories than his grandfather’s imagination. He journeys with his father (Frank Portman) to the island of Wales for answers. This later grows into finding Miss Peregrine and her peculiar children. However, not everything is kept the same.
For one, the story focused on Jake’s acceptance of his peculiarity, rather than the peculiars’ and family-like bonds. The older, adolescent peculiars (Jake, Emma, Olive, and Enoch) are brought into the spotlight, while the young ones (Bronwyn, Fiona, Claire, Hugo, the twins, Millard, and Horace) are shoved aside. Lenika Cruz, writer for The Atlantic, wrote, “The young peculiars have names, but they don’t get much by way of backstory or personality. Despite the movie’s insistence that they are special, Miss Peregrine ultimately reduces them to the very thing the world rejected them for: their peculiarities.” However, the movie was not a total failure. Its special effects are believable, and fit the expectations for a Tim Burton film. The hollowgasts, or hollows, are the picture of terrifying with their eyeless faces, wriggling tentacles, and pointed limbs. The movie also features nice scenery with landscapes like the vintage orphanage. Perhaps the film’s visual effects are the one thing that allowed viewers to deem it passable, with 65% on Rotten Tomatoes.
It seems that the message so carefully written into the book has been desecrated to the typical “boy-finds-strange-new-world-and-falls-in-love-with-girl” plot line. The entertainment industry has failed, yet again, to deliver a movie that doesn’t have a main focus on the flimsy world of teenage drama.