By Anastasia Landeros
It’s a tough job adapting a novel, let alone a novel series, to film.
Although it has been done successfully, “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” is not one of them. The film looks good on paper but disappoints.
The film was set to be a promising addition to Burton’s stellar roster of movies with Hollywood A-Listers Samuel L. Jackson, Allison Janney, and Dame Judi Dench being sprinkled among the young cast.
Unfortunately, the plot holes, flat acting and questionable dialogue flow had audience members audibly asking “What was that about?”
“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” is adapted from the series of novels of the same name by Ransom Riggs.
The story follows Jake, played by Asa Butterfield, as he attempts to prove that the stories his grandfather told him before his mysterious death are true; there are strange happenings going on at Miss Peregrine’s home.
Jake journeys to the home on the advice of his psychiatrist Dr. Golan, played by Janney, in order for him to find closure and prove that the stories are nothing more than fantasy.
At the school, he meets an invisible boy, a floating girl, and other children from his grandfather’s stories, as well as Miss Peregrine herself.
Jake discovers that his grandfather was telling the truth and sets out on a quest to discover more about the home for peculiar children and its occupants.
Visually, this film was appealing, as are most of Tim Burton’s movies.
The colors of the children’s world are vibrant and alive, while Jake’s boring reality is pale and gray. Visuals could only carry this film so far.
The viewer’s attention was forced to work hard to figure out the flow of the story on more than one occasion.
The entire film had an it’s-happening-because-I-said-so feel as events happened without explanation, characters were angry for no reason, and secondary-character development vanished once situations got too complicated.
The story did not lend a helping hand to viewers who didn’t read the novels. It was also surprising that the big names attached to this film were so underutilized, with the exception of Samuel L. Jackson.
Dench and Janney were given little screen time for characters that had minimal impact on the overall plot leaving viewers wondering why those actors signed on in the first place.
Funnyman Chris O’Dowd’s character Franklin was boring, naive and flat. If O’Dowd was looking for more serious roles to expand his dramatic acting chops, this was the wrong film to do it in.
His character does nothing to advance the time-travel subplot and disappears altogether toward the later half of the film without any resolve to the strained relationship he has with Jake.
Butterfield’s Jake also missed the mark as the main character tasked with carrying the film.
The English-born Butterfield seemed to struggle with an American accent, which may have been the reason for his unconvincing performance.
Meeting an invisible boy and floating girl didn’t seem to shock him and when the story set him up for emotional moments, Butterfield failed to convey anything other than mild surprise or sadness. Eva Green as Miss Alma LeFay Peregrine was a surprising beacon of perfect casting.
The character was a cross between Willy Wonka from Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Mary Poppins.
Her genuine portrayal of a strict, but loving, guardian to children almost outshone the lack of clear storytelling throughout the film.
If the story was better structured and thought out for viewers who had not read the book series, this film could have been a fun watch.
The child cast did a good job of portraying their assigned characters and almost made viewers forget about their lack of character development.
The dialogue seemed to be ripped straight from the novel as the sentencing didn’t come off as conversational.
“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” missed the mark in delivering what could have been a unique and adventure-filled story.
Instead, it was a sloppy adaptation with hints of potential.
The roughly $13 price tag would be better spent ordering take-out and watching it at home when it’s released in the future.
The film runs 127 minutes long and is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of fantasy action/violence and peril.