Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children: True to the Novel?


Tim Burton Films and Fox

Megan Nguyen, Herald Reporter

The world of the abnormal has been experienced by fans of Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children that await Tim Burton’s 2016 on-screen version. In the filming business, creating an original film that serves as an accurate adaptation is quite a debacle, but in this peculiar case, bringing eccentric themes to the big screen will be an especially large challenge. From a blue-haired bird woman to tentacle-mouthed beasts, how much weirdness is too much? Or more importantly, can Burton pull it off?

Leading an ordinary life, Jacob Portman witnesses his grandfather’s death and senses more to it than an “animal attack”. He decides to do a little investigating when he visits a small island off of Wales where he meets extraordinary children such as Emma, Olive, Enoch, Horace, and their headmistress, Miss Peregrine. All of these children have special abilities. For example, Emma can control air and Enoch has the power to animate nonliving objects in a temporary amount of time. As Jacob becomes involved in their lives, he learns about his grandfather’s history while discovering his own peculiarity and puts it to use when the group is in danger. Together, they begin the start of a journey after Jacob and his new friends’ lives are forever altered.

To the credit of Burton, the scenes and set were spectacular. He transformed Riggs’ imagination into a reality by exceeding  fans’ expectations, yet managed to be entirely unique compared to other films. Burton fabricated an aura of eeriness that stayed consistent throughout the scenes; rain or shine. Not only so, but this eeriness maintained a certain cheer that could not be categorized under horror or any genre for that matter. In fact, it files under one peculiar genre itself, which was Riggs’ goal in the novel.

Script writers did a fabulous job at staying true to Rigg’s original story, something not seen in many adaptations. With minor changes and minimal scenes taken out, the film follows the plot of the novel. Fans should be happy to know that the Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children film has not become a different story on its own.

However, it can not be stated that the entire film was a success. Although Burton’s directing was striking, the character development was less than exceptional. These characters may serve well to many viewers, but they were rather boring, which is ironic considering they are supposed to be bizarre. While all the weirdness added a special treat for the audience, there is a point in which the film is too busy. In this case, it was so busy, that viewers were not able to get to know the characters on a deeper level other than their powers. With so much happening with the plot, the characters defaulted to the same old hero and heroine insta-love story with the addition of a cliche group of underdog kids.

One of the reasons why movies and books are so entertaining is that people can connect with the different type of characters, whether that be defiant, shy, or developing. The book portrays a fierce Emma, a strict Miss Peregrine, and a developing Jacob, all of which are not seen in the film. It may be disappointing for fans to miss out on their beloved characters that do not live up to expectations of Rigg’s novel.

This all stems from the opinion of one viewer when there are thousands of fans out nationwide. While there are both great and not-so-great aspects of this adaptation, is it highly suggested that fans of the book experience the film in order to form their own thoughts. However, Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children still makes for an exciting Friday night out, whether one has read the novel or is just looking for something different.