Movie Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

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.

Book Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

I gobbled this book up so quickly! It surprised me, because the first time I encountered it years ago, I flipped through the pages, looked at the giant font size and all the pages with photos and thought, ‘Hmm, this is way below my reading level.’

That statement is rather odd for me to make because I gravitate towards young adult fiction. I think many people do. But anyway, this time, I felt a spark, so in my cart it went. By that evening I was already 4 chapters in.

Ransom Riggs has created a great little world through the help of vintage images he and others have collected. The story and characters are woven out of the black and white visuals and there is something powerful about reading the description of a character and then flipping to an image of him/her. Somehow, combined with the fanciful and other-worldly aspects, it grounds the idea that such humans/creatures do exist in our world.

The protagonist, Jacob, is bored with his humdrum life as a teen in a wealthy family that dwells in the suburbs of Florida. He is certain he doesn’t fit into the mold of expectations that are cut out for his future. His desire is to be displaced of an unsatisfactory future career in the family business.

His life changes in the blink of an eye when his grandfather whom he is close to calls him in a frenzy. His parents have ruled out Grandpa Abe’s antics as senility, but Jacob goes to check on him anyway. What happens next opens the door to a whole new world as Jacob pieces together clues from his Grandfather’s words.

The reader is introduced to a headmistress, Miss Peregrine, and her flock of peculiar children. They all posses special abilities which make them “peculiar” to the world around them and unfortunately make them prey to dangerous beings.

I was shocked to find a decent amount of strong language in a book targeted for the 11+ crowd. There is language that alludes to sexual references which would make me uneasy recommending it to anyone under 16 (to be clear, there is no sexual content). I also found that Riggs expects his reader to be quite knowledgeable. He references a variety of complex concepts and verbatim that pleasantly surprised me but didn’t quite seem to fit the voice of a 16 year old kid from the ‘burbs. For instance, he uses the word ‘humping’ which youth today would allude to something else entirely, but is a terms of military origins for carrying the breadth of your belongings with you. Some of the vocabulary requires seeking out definitions for – things like: homunculus, lanai, interloper, inoculate, and parapet.

Overall, it was a wonderful read and I enjoyed every page of it. It was enchanting, legitimately creepy, and engaging.

I’m very excited for the film adaptation coming out later this year, but now that I’ve read the book, I see one major change to the story and I’m not sure how I feel about it. I will, like all other movies from books, take the film as a whole different beast with creative licensing.

Here is a poster for the upcoming feature:


And now I’m off to buy the sequel, Hollow City!