Fantastical and macabre, Tim Burton’s latest movie has left the fans of the Ransom Riggs novel wanting more. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is an incredible movie in and of itself, but it diverged in essential aspects from the novel which inspired it. Both movie and novel follow Jake’s journey as he uncovers the mystery left behind by his grandfather and the truth about his own peculiarity, but Tim Burton squished a trilogy into a single film. The visuals are amazing, and anyone who has not read the book will absolutely love the film, but for me it became an unpleasant surprise.
Ransom Riggs’ trilogy was initially planned to be compilation of vintage photographs; however, inspired by their peculiar nature, he wrote a story to accompany and link all the images. From the cover, one could judge it as horror story, but the book is far from that. Although suspenseful and mysterious, the images become dear to the reader instead of frightening as each new character comes with a new image. The novel also grapples with the notion of grief, love and multiple intelligences, which the movie only hints at. Although Tim Burton is able to capture the general essence of the novel, it lacks depth, transforming a beautiful story into an adventure movie.
It is true the film and literature are two completely different art forms, and really shouldn’t be compared, but when a novel is written practically ready to become a movie it is hard to let it go. There were so many unnecessary changes, such as switching and distorting the Peculiar’s powers, adding unnecessary props, and redefining the workings of the time loops, that one can only say that the film was only slightly based on the novel. So, fans of the book don’t expect much resemblance, but enjoy the visuals. Others, much like every Tim Burton movie, it is creepy, but ingeniously well done and I definitely recommend it.
However, what probably frustrated me the most, they switched and reformed the powers of the peculiars. Emma, Jake’s love interest, has the power to control and produce fire with her hands, not being lighter than air. Olive, on the other hand, appears in the novel as a small girl lighter than air, but can’t control it. In the movie she is an almost full grown women who can make things combust. Enoch’s power is also distorted as he can only reanimate dead organism if there is a heart available to insert into it, differently from the movie where apparently he created life from his imagination in the final scene.