In Defense of Tim Burton's Miss Peregrine Movie
So, I've been delving into this series this past month. Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children is a weird book and a weird movie, both.
Yeah, read/watch it, but this isn't a review.
Lots of readers are mad because Tim Burton and the writers made HUGE changes from the book to the movie, and I want to chat about that.
So, after the jump, there will be MAJOR SPOILERS! No holding back! Go read/watch it first. This may include spoilers for Books 2 and 3!
Got that? Spoilers ahead!
I like the changes from novel to film, to be honest. I want to defend what Tim Burton did.
Let's get the biggest one out of the way: Movie Emma is the floaty girl, Book Emma is fire hands. They swapped her powers with Olive.
Book Olive is much younger [mentally], and Movie Olive has been aged up to be a love interest for Enoch.
In defense of the change: Let's be honest, Book Olive's powers are more interesting and visually fresh than Book Emma's. Fire powers, we've seen before in movies. X-men's Pyro and Phoenix, the Human Torch of Fantastic 4, Ghost Rider. Heck, even the generic fantasy Wizard's fire spells are similar. I use Emma's powers all the time in Skyrim, for example.
Now, we've seen flight/air powers before (Xmen's Storm comes to mind), but Movie Emma's powers are interesting and fresh because there is a quirk: she cannot control her flight. She must have someone holding her on a rope, strapped into her chair, or wear leaded shoes to weigh her down. It's no wonder that Burton's artistic sense tingled at the idea of putting those powers are the forefront of the movie.
Besides, let's be honest, having Jacob use a rope to guide Emma's flight is sexy (the actress/character is an adult, nothing wrong about it).
It's an awesome, unique visual. I bet it got stuck in Burton's mind.
Emma got extra wind powers that Book Olive didn't have.
Movie Emma needed a way to fight like Book Emma did. Also, it allowed them to use the sunken ship (more on that later).
As for Movie Olive...
Book Olive is mentally a child and is mainly used as a deus ex machina. Aging Olive up gave Enoch's jealousy some resolution and conflict and Olive some character complexity. In the books, he's jealous, but it goes unresolved and feels more petty, since there's no conflict. The movie fixes that.
Since I mentioned the movie's use of the sunken ship, let's talk about that...
Book Emma and Book Jake use a hose to breathe underwater in the books. Then, they just hang out underwater. It's a little weird.
The movie's change made it sexy (Emma breathes Jake some air), faster (Emma sunk from her weighted shoes), and also they were able to have dialogue and move the plot along since Emma could "dewater" the room. I can't imagine they'd be able to do this underwater scene without Emma's changed powers, honestly. Movies are shorter than books, they can't spend time without directly moving the plot forward.
Plus, using the ship was cool. We got to see more of the kids' powers in the end, too. The change works, and made the movie better.
Moving on, let's talk about Enoch. Why did they take out him resurrecting the man in the ice fridge?
In the books, he animates 2 people and a couple of clay dolls.
In the movie, he animates 1 person, a crab-monster, a robot elephant, the babyface thing from Toy Story, and an army of skeletons.
Tim Burton had so much fun and did so many cool things with Enoch! Why would anyone complain. Burton not only added so many cool, new uses of his powers, but he also made Enoch a hero (attacking several hollows, including the one at the house), also gave him conflict (with Movie Olive), and also made him more likable in the end.
No, Enoch doesn't resurrect the fridge guy, but that whole scene in the books brought them one piece of info (wights and hollows were about to attack), which they knew anyway. It wasn't a big deal to cut it.
And honestly, almost every single peculiar child gets MORE use of their powers in the movie than in the books. They seem to be more creative uses and more screen time to boot.
They're a photo in the books, but characters in the movie. They're really just aesthetics, and this is Tim Burton. How could he not use those creepy twins? I personally loved the addition. It layered on the weirdness in the right way.
Bronwyn's age/role. She acts as the older of the children, the caregiver. In the movie, she's a young child.
I think for Olive to be aged up for the movie, Bronwyn had to be aged down. I think this was the right decision for several reasons:
1. Book Olive needed protecting, whereas neither book nor movie Bronwyn needed protecting. She was powerful, either way. I love seeing another literally strong female character, and having movie Olive/Emma not need protecting was a great trade.
2. The older children were the complex characters. If there had been another older, more complex character, the movie could have become character soup. Aging down Bron helped.
3. A tiny child with crazy strength powers is visually stunning. So funny to have Jake being carried by her, or her plucking that enormous carrot.
OK, I guess we'll get to another major change, better say WARNING, BIG BOOK 2 and 3 SPOILERS HERE.
Miss Peregrine's not stuck as a bird in the movie's end.
So, Miss Peregrine isn't even in book 2. She got birdswapped with a wight. We don't see her from the end of book 1 to the last third of book 3.
Changing this, allowing Miss Peregrine to not be a captured or thought-of-as stuck in the bird is 100% necessary.
For one thing, Eva Green is spectacular and if there's ever a sequel, WE ARE NOT GOING TO NOT HAVE HER IN IT. Seriously, she NAILED the role. What a talent! We're not, just no. No, she will not be stuck as a bird in any potential sequel. That, and the fact that she's a paid actress. Paid to act. Not to cameo in the end.
Secondly, the movie resolves the wights. They kill Baron, ending the experiment.
Basically, it tells a complete story. It ends the story in a way where no sequel is needed. If she'd been stuck as a bird and no sequel ever came, then it'd be a sad, sad ending.
Did I mention that Eva Green is a gift to this franchise and making her stuck inside a CGI bird would be a sin?
Eating eyeballs, not just eating
This is a Tim Burton visual aesthetic, but also... it's PG-13. Eating eyeballs is one thing, biting into guts is another. Movies have stricter rules to follow than books.
Plus, the eyeball eating thing almost has precedence from the novels. Remember book 3's ambrosia? Well, it was peculiar soul juice put... into peculiar eyes. Burton's change makes sense!
Baron VS. Dr. Golan
I liked this change, too, sorry! For one thing, Book Golan is a wight that is just another minion in Caul's game.
Burton wanted to change the story so that it had an ending, more complete than what book 1 left us with. He made a new villain that drew from book 3's main bad guy. Having Peregrine's brothers come into the movie would have made it character soup, too bloated, TMI.
So, instead, he creates a new character with a new name so that the heroes having someone other than just a minion to fight.
Besides that, Movie Baron IS Golan. Just more motivated. Plus, Samuel L. Jackson DELIVERED! He was astounding, funny! The perfect villain.
The movie DID have a few small errors. Movie Emma says, "More than a few minutes in your time... [and she ages up and dies]" and yet Movie Emma and the other children spend more than a few minutes wandering the present-time demolished home looking for Jake. [and honestly, this was the most confusing, and oft broken rule in the novels anyway...]
Baron says, "The only thing I can't change are my eyes..." and yet he shapeshifts to a Jacob copy in the end and has Jake's normal eyes.
Also, whose chore is it to put down the white tape every day before Miss Peregrine crossbows the hollow? LOL, but maybe that's just me overthinking.
Anyway, those are errors, but small ones and not consequential.
But I'll sum up my defense of the movie like this: Tim Burton made a lot of awesome, wonderful changes to create a film that maximized the visual artistry, improved the complexity and creative uses of the characters and their powers, and also rounded the plot off with a complete story. He obvious did so with a fierce knowledge of the books and his best efforts to create a film anyone can enjoy. And I love it! The movie is really fantastic.