Tuesday, October 18, 2016

How Very Peculiar...

Two weekends ago, I went to see Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. I've been a huge fan of the Ransom Riggs novels since the first one came out and was excited to see what Tim Burton would do with the material. I knew it would be different, but hoped that a wonderful story in the hands of another wonderful storyteller would produce something magical.

Tim Burton has been a visionary his entire career, which fortunately for me, has spanned my own film viewing life. Not everything he's done is among my favorites, but many are. Beetlejuice is a movie that helped define my late childhood. Nightmare Before Christmas sparked my teen imagination. Sleepy Hollow and Sweeny Todd were favorites of my creative adulthood. So, despite my abject abhorrence to Alice in Wonderland, I went into this movie with high hopes. 

Before I get too critical, I want to say that I enjoyed Miss Peregrine as a film. I was entertained throughout. I thought it was visually interesting. I thought the plot held together, for the most part. But as with any film version of a book that I adore, I found myself constantly puzzling over why certain changes were made. The main thing that I couldn't fathom was why he would swap Ella and Olive's peculiarities. Yes, the transposing of their abilities was one of the things that made the plot come together, but it was a plot not taken from the book. So if you were changing the plot anyway, why not figure out some way that worked while keeping the characters as they were created. But that was a minor distraction, and one that shouldn't play into the enjoyment of the film for anyone unfamiliar with the books.

Another thing that I found unsettling was how the last third of the movie was completely devoid of the source material. This was necessary considering a book trilogy was made into a stand alone movie. But that is another thing I couldn't understand. In this era of trilogies and sequels, why take a mega-bestselling book trilogy and make it one film? 

The last third of the movie was the biggest disappointment for me. The ending of the books is so incredibly imaginative and intriguing. The big Hollywood action style ending to the movie felt so false to the creativity of the story told in the books. All of that said, I think this is a movie that tweens will remember the way I remember Beetlejuice and I believe many will be turned onto the books, and feel confident that they will then discover the brilliance to be found there.

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