Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, a 2011 historical fantasy novel most famous for its use of photographs to drive its narrative, is just the next Young Adult book to get adapted to the big screen. The MPHFPC movie itself in the same film category as many successes, such as The Hunger Games, as well as an almost overwhelming amount of flops, such as The Fifth Wave. With many of the most recent YA book-to-movie adaptations underperforming, or just outright flopping, in the box office, it seems the the MPHFPC movie would be faced with the task of not only succeeding in the box office, but appealing to both the fans of the book, as well as the casual moviegoer.
I was and still am looking forward for this movie. After starting and finishing the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series last year, I became very excited with all the possibilities and potential the books contained for a movie adaptation. Many aspects of the book seem primed for the big screen, so when I found out one was actually in the works, I was beyond excited. I became even more excited when I heard that the talented Tim Burton would be directing the film. But over the past year, though, as I have watched this film take shape in anticipation of its approaching release date, it seems to me that the mysterious and fantastical story told in the novel has lost some of its key aspects at the hands of Tim Burton’s “vision” in its transformation to the screen, and I personally believe the film is worse off because of that.
If you have read any amount of the three books in the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children trilogy, you know that the characters make the story, especially the Peculiars. Ransom Riggs, the author of the book series, manages to make sure that each and every one of the many Peculiar children are well-realized, each having their own personality that is built upon throughout the series. The children’s unique peculiarities also play into those senses of individuality, serving as a kind of extension of those personalities. Their personalities and individuality are one of the reasons that the book series is a favorite of mine.
I believe Tim Burton has neglected this aspect of the MPHFPC story, though. This is most evident in the switching of characters peculiarities. Emma, a main character in the series, had the ability to create fire, a peculiarity perfect for her fiery attitude. But in the movie, she has switched peculiarities with Olive, one of the younger children in the series, now having the peculiarity of permanent levitation. Not only that, but Olive has been transformed from a innocent little girl in the books to a fire-wielding grown woman in the film! Characterization being an important part of the entire series, those and other large changes truly do have a great affect on the story as a whole.
MPHFPC stood out in the YA scene due to its darker and more ominous tone. From whats been shown to us, though, it doesn’t seem that the tone hasn’t at all transferred over into the movies. It seems the movies are focusing more onto the more fantastical elements, while neglecting the darker, grittier elements that upped its appeal in the book market, such as its inclusion of WWII aspects to the story. Seeing as not many YA adaptations have horror elements to them, I think including the darker parts of the story could have helped the movie to stand out against the sea of unsuccessful Young Adult adaptations. It seems, though, that Tim Burton has preferred to stay on the more fantastical and light-hearted side of the story, staying away from the darker and more realistic elements.
I think that the problem with characterization and tone points to a larger issue with Tim Burton as a director. I don’t think he completely understands the potential that fans of a book have. The book community can be a very important group to attract, especially for such a popular and well received book.Creating a faithful adaptation that would have appealed to larger movie audiences would have been completely possible, and I think by making some of those large changes might turn away some of the book fans while also making for a less appealing movie to general audiences.
In the end, I am still excited to experience this movie on September 30. These are just my opinions, though, and I would love to hear the thoughts of other fans of the book. Don’t be afraid to comment and share your opinion on the movie. I think that the discussion of this movie can play over into the rest of YA book-to-movie adaptations and spark an interesting conversation.
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(+ I think we can all appreciate Eva Green’s hair, though. I mean look at it!)