I went to see Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (known forevermore as MP because who has time to write out huge titles?) on Friday but only just got around to doing a review – hopefully my memory has survived! Anyway, this review has a bit of a disclaimer at the start. I have read the book, although admittedly only the first in the series. Yes, the film is a bit different to the book. HOWEVER, this review isn’t about the book, and it isn’t a list of similarities and differences (I can do both of those things in separate posts if people are interested). When I go to see a film, I watch it FOR THE FILM. Not so I can sit there with a checklist noting down every tiny deviation from the book it was based on. Books and films are different mediums, and they require different things. In my opinion anyway, there are very, very, VERY few books that can be turned into successful, ENJOYABLE films simply by getting actors to recite all the words in the book. They are different art forms and I like to treat them as such. Obviously everyone has their own opinions on the topic and no one opinion is the “right one”, we’re all just different and have different views on the subject. Yay diverse thinking! But when I went to see this film, I put my liking of the book to one side and just concentrated on the film as a film. The people who work on films work just as hard as writers to create their chosen piece of art, and I think they deserve from me, an avid consumer, at least the courtesy to watch their film for what it is and not just write it off because it isn’t a carbon copy of the book.
So, the TL;DR for this disclaimer is this: Yay books! Yay films! However, there will be no books in this review. ONLY FILM. And with that, on with the show!
This review will be as spoiler free as I can possibly make it, so feel free to read it if you haven’t seen the film yet. The first paragraph will be a brief summary kinda thing so you can skip that if you don’t want to know ANYTHING and just read the actual review.
MP is the story of Jacob, a teenager who is a bit odd and a bit of a loner, and doesn’t really have many friends. Hands up who can relate *all my hands fly up in unison*. From the start, I empathised with Jacob – I too know what it’s like to not fit in with the “cool kids” and to feel like they don’t like you, and it sucks. Hang in there dude! Jake’s grandpa was a rather eccentric old man who told wild and wonderful stories about monsters and magic and a children’s home on a Welsh island that was home to many wondrous people. Grandpa Abe sounds marvellous tbh. Unfortunately, bad things ensue and Jake is taken to see a therapist who suggests it would be good for him to go to this island so he can see for himself that Abe’s stories were just stories after all. He convinces his dad to take him because there are birds on the island and his dad is writing a book about birds. Of course, this is a fantasy and Abe’s stories aren’t just stories after all. THE MAGIC IS REAL. REAL I TELL YOU. REEEEEEEEEEAL! Ahem. There are good guys and bad guys and Jake must become the hero his grandpa once was, in his grandpa’s place.
So how was it? I’ll start off by saying that I really enjoyed this film. It was sweet and had the right amount of action and gentle hints of romance throughout that didn’t overpower the rest of the story. Lovely. It does start out a little slow, while they build the character of Jake, but it soon picks up well enough and I think the film does a pretty good job of keeping the action rolling without every scene being a mass of DEATH AND DESTRUCTION. Even though I do love a good bit of death and destruction. Overall, once it gets started it keeps up a good pace, and there were no parts of it where I felt bored.
The acting for me was a teensy bit hit and miss. Some of the acting seemed a little bit wooden in places, but to be fair, all of the actors did very well in certain sections too. Pixie Davies, who played Bronwyn, stole the show several times, just for being one of the cutest little kids I’ve ever seen! Finlay MacMillan, who plays Enoch, was also really good (he might’ve been one of my favourite characters actually). He had the slightly creepy yet caring look down. I think perhaps the one exception to the hit-and-miss rule I saw was Eva Green. Miss Peregrine was FLAWLESS! Eva is stunning and I really enjoyed her character in this film. I don’t think she ever had a bad scene. She totally stepped up to the role and shone.
The film itself was very visually pleasing. The scenery of the scraggy little Welsh island was beautiful, the sunken ship was stunning (I really love scuba diving so I may have been slightly more captivated by the ship than most of the people around me but oh well), and we ended up in Blackpool which, for an English gal from the Midlands, was always going to be fun. Tied in with this topic was the special effects. The monsters were suitably creepy (as hell, but shh don’t tell anyone!), and the effect of the “loop” was marvellous. I really enjoyed watching the effects.
Finally, the residents of the island were all pretty cool. Jake’s dad bribes one of them to take Jake to the children’s home, even though this is less than stellar for all parties involved. Jake then decides to tell his dad he was with his new “friends” all day which backfires spectacularly. Never lie to the ‘rents, kids. Overall, this was a pretty solid cast and they all did a good job.
*** Probably mild spoilers here so skip this paragraph if you don’t want to see them*** I will note here that once it had ended I remember thinking that the ending was a little bit of a cop out. I am very glad that Jake was happy and everything was well, but I can’t help but think that time travel doesn’t really do that (if you’ve watched the film you’ll know the that I’m referring to. If not, you haven’t been spoiled. Go me! Come back once you’ve watched it and talk to me about it). Now, time travel is different in pretty much every book and film I’ve encountered. It’s not really something that’s hugely possible, no matter how much we may want it, in the “real world” so I think most of the time it’s treated differently because there’s no proper guideline to go off of (and besides, it’s your work, you do what you want). Therefore, I tend to be happy if the time travel guidelines simply fit the universe of that particular work, not all the other works that run with different guidelines. I just tend to think that, when the only characters who die are the bad guys (and especially when good characters “come back” at the end), it’s a bit of a cop out. Real life doesn’t work that way. I am well aware this isn’t real life. This didn’t impact on my overall enjoyment, just on my feelings immediately after the film had finished.
***Spoiler free people can come back now***
Review in a Pinch:
Rating: 4/5. It wasn’t the best film I’ve ever seen but it was a solid production with a reasonably good script and a good cast. Everything worked well together and I enjoyed watching it. I might even watch it again at some point, if I fancy a sweet YA film with action and cool characters.
Favourite secondary character: Shelley, the gun toting grocery shop worker. Purely because she is a gun toting grocery shop worker. I have very simple wants in this world, and this is one of them.
Favourite character: Miss Alma LeFay Peregrine. I loved her in this, not only was she completely stunning (and her eye makeup was on point) but she was funny and sweet and badass in equal measure. Also she has a crossbow. Also she can create loops. SHE’S FREAKING BADASS.
Runner up favourite character: Enoch. I thought the actor was really good, he was deliciously creepy and awesome. Also he had a happy ending which pleased me greatly.
Favourite WTF moment: in a war-torn country, how can these kids park a huge, unregistered, unexpected ship (that had just flown up from the bottom of the sea no less) at Blackpool Pier and NO ONE CARED?? Surely they should’ve returned to find it surrounded by soldiers or something?? No??
Anyway guys, I really enjoyed this film and I hope this review was helpful for you. I’m considering rereading the book (it’s been a while) and then doing a review of the book version if anyone would be interested? Have you seen MP? What did you think? Who was your favourite character? Eva Green is stunning isn’t she? Leave comments down below, I’d love to talk to you guys about it!