I was incredibly excited at the announcement of this film and I’m so glad I was able to see it in theaters with one of my best friends.
In a previous blog post, I wrote about the book and how surprisingly fascinating it was. I touched on the fact that it was rather dark in some areas and that the vocabulary [and curse words] made it more suitable for an older teen on up. I’d say the film also fits that recommendation, but more on that later…
The movie opens up with Jake, the protagonist, working at his family’s chain store and how the events of that evening changed his life. His grandfather, Abe, is a stoic soul with a soft spot for his grandson. He shared “tall tales” with Jacob when he was younger and his family believes he is suffering from dementia. When Jake goes to check on him in his home after a whirlwind of a call, he discovers that his grandfather was attacked. Abe, with his last breath, gives a final message full of nonsensical instructions. This riddle is shrouded in more mystery when Jake sees an otherworldly creature momentarily.
Because of the traumatic experience, Jacob is going to therapy and trying to sort out the details of that fateful night and the creature he thinks he saw. He believes that venturing to Cairnholm, the children’s home his grandpa once resided at (and the place of many of his tales) will give him a sense of closure. Instead, he discovers a gateway to the past, literally, and meets the peculiar folk of his grandfather’s stories.
As Jake spends time with the headmistress, Miss Peregrine, and the children, he begins to figure out they are not the only ones gifted with an incredible ability…
Tim Burton did an incredible job portraying an ordinary world with extraordinary people and creatures. The contrast of familiar with peculiar really made the visuals shine. And of course, true to the book and Burton’s genius, there are very morbid and gothic elements as well. The powers are not magical, particularly fanciful, or supernatural, and that is exactly right. Eva Green made a magnificent Miss Peregrine.
I promise not to give any particular information away, but there are some spoilers below. Continue reading if you want me to give more detailed information without revealing specifics.
If you’ve been pushing yourself to finish the book before enjoying the movie, don’t. In fact, tuck a bookmark in your spot, forget the second half, and go to the movie and enjoy it as it is. Please know that the author of the book, Ransom Riggs, is reportedly very happy with the creative direction and that many of the details you are wrapped up in may not be in the movie. I have to say this is genuinely the first time I regretted reading a book before the movie because I expected so much synchronicity.
My one criticism of the film is that there are weak spots in the storytelling and that the story, despite a two hour exploration, doesn’t give too much room for character development. There are minute but important parts of the film you just won’t fully understand unless you’ve read the book (but don’t, don’t force yourself to finish!) and the limited character development of secondary people may make you assumptive of one’s motives. If you leave the theater wondering why Jake’s parents are so “terrible,” just know that you’ll have several “aha!” moments as you read the book. If you’re wondering how Emma and Jake could really have feelings for each other based on screen time, also know the book covers that in more detail.
Some of the ages and abilities have been swapped, for better or for worse. I wish that Emma’s ability stayed true to the book, as it fits her personality better. I do, however, appreciate that the person with the creepiest gift (in my opinion) is an older child in the film as it would be much darker given a more innocent age.
I’m curious to see how someone who sees the film first, then reads the book reacts. The ending gives just enough room for a future sequel, but ends on a very different note.
There is no sexual content. There are a couple curse words, including an unncessary G-D*mnit. The discretion factor falls primarily on some of the more gothic/darker ideas and danger. I could see a very mature 12 year old enjoying it, but I personally feel this is a age 15 on up feature.
I would give this film 7 out of 10 stars.