Movie Review: “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”

Image: Coming Soon

Image: Coming Soon

Rating: 2 out of 5

Well, as much as I wanted this film adaptation to be a raving success, I came home last night angry and disappointed. To be fair, I’ve never been much of a Tim Burton fan, but I felt that his penchant for creepy cool tales would be fitting for the popular Ransom Riggs novel about a supernatural group of misfits.

Let’s start off with the few pros of the movie. I enjoyed the casting: Asa Butterfield as Jacob was a bit wooden and Eva Green was inappropriately young for the role of the elderly Miss Peregrine, but overall the actors worked well together. I even accepted the strange decision to cast Allison Janney as Dr. Golan, who then changes form into the villainous wight known as Barron, played by Samuel L. Jackson, as simply a change in creative direction to support diversity.

The special effects were also impressive, and it was fun to see all the children show off their peculiar powers. I also greatly appreciated how the hollowghasts came to life: they were the tentacled Slenderman-esque monsters that I imagined.

Unfortunately, that’s where my compliments end. All the world-building and character development that occurred in the first half of the film came crashing down as the plot veered off course.

Nothing about the last half of the movie adheres to the novel. This is because the studio is not likely to make any sequels. It dawned on me that when Jacob and friends actually rescue Miss Peregrine instead of watch in horror as Dr. Golan kidnaps her that there would be no cliffhanger ending. And when the logic of the time loop is altered so that Jacob’s grandfather lives, that’s when I literally threw my hands up in the air and gave up all hope for cinematic redemption.

This adaptation is a prime example of how insulting it is when Hollywood uses the original ideas of authors to make money, and yet spit in the faces of the fans who are so passionate about these stories.

It continues to boggle my mind why directors can’t just look at books as paint-by-numbers. All the hard work has been done; you just need to follow directions and fill in the colors. And yet, this task was clearly too difficult for Burton.

As soon as I learned in the trailer that Emma and Olive’s peculiarities had been swapped, I saw massive red flags but chose to remain optimistic. Now that I’ve seen the movie in its entirety, I can’t even recommend it to non-fans of Miss Peregrine. It’s a clumsy, nonsensical mess. All I can hope now is that my intuition is correct and Hollywood won’t be turning Riggs’ sequels into equally horrendous failures. Fingers crossed!

Advertisements

Book Review: Tales of the Peculiar

Image: Goodreads

Image: Goodreads

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Today is the premiere of Tim Burton’s film adaptation of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and as disappointed as I am in its creative direction in regards to changing Emma’s entire peculiarity, I will begrudgingly give this movie a shot.

To amp myself up, I read Ransom Riggs’ latest book, Tales of the Peculiar, which was published this month and given to me by my brother as a birthday gift.

Fans of the series may be let down that this isn’t a prequel or sequel, but rather a collection of short stories, annotated by Millard Nullings, the intellectual ward of Miss Peregrine who is completely invisible.

All of these stories read as fables from peculiar history, teaching moral lessons, ranging from “stay true to yourself” to “be nice to pigeons.” Many are tongue-in-cheek revisions of idioms, turning metaphorical sayings into supernatural origin stories.

For example, in the tale, “The Splendid Cannibals,” a village of peculiars who can regrow limbs literally sell their arms and legs to maneaters to afford ever more lavish homes just to keep up with the Joneses. I don’t want to give away the ending, but it’s certainly a morbid way to warn against materialism.

Even though no major characters of Riggs’ series make appearances, this book is a nice treat that’s short enough to read in a couple days. It has a gorgeous green cover with gold lettering, and the illustrations at the beginning of each story are wonderfully done. If you can’t get enough of the peculiar universe, then this is the book for you!

Literary News: In Case You (Really) Missed It

coffee-flower-reading-magazine

The past 14 hours have been a whirlwind of fun: last night my book club met to drink a few bottles of wine while discussing the horrendous novel All the Birds in the Sky (review coming next week!). This morning was even invigorating, because I was finally able to login to Pokemon Go, the mobile game that’s taken over the globe. I’ve been gallivanting around San Francisco hoping to catch them all!

But now it’s time to get serious…I have a confession to make.

In full disclosure, I have a terrible habit of filing away articles for my blog, then forgetting that they exist. Every time my cursor hovers over the bookmarks folder on my browser, I cringe and try to ignore the growing list as best I can.

But 2016 is half over, and I just can’t take it anymore! Time for some summer cleaning!

Here are the first six months of literary news in review, in case you really, really missed the boat, or just want to relive the excitement!

Literary Feminism

  • “Damn, you’re not reading any books by white men this year? That’s so freakin brave and cool” (Jezebel)
  • “In literature and in life, men and women still want different things in a mate” (Jezebel)
  • “One weird trick that makes a novel addictive” (Jezebel)

Harry Potter News

  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child to be eighth book” (BBC)
  • “J.K. Rowling’s History of Magic in North America was a travesty from start to finish” (io9)

Hollywood Adaptations

  • “Ava DuVernay confirmed to direct A Wrinkle in Time” (IndieWire)
  • “Inside the peculiar new home of Tim Burton’s Miss Peregrine” (Entertainment Weekly)
  • “6 adaptations that fixed the book (according to the author)” (Cracked)
  • “First Look as Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf on A Series of Unfortunate Events set” (Spinoff Online)
  • Will drama about young William Shakespeare picked up to series by TNT” (Deadline)

Et Cetera

  • Placing Literature maps out real places you’ve read about in books” (Lifehacker)
  • “The mass-market edition of To Kill a Mockingbird is dead” (New Republic)

Can you tell I’m a fan of Gawker Media publications? After reading this list, what literary news made you most excited? And if I missed any headlines, please send them my way!

Book Review: Library of Souls

Image via Goodreads

Rating: 4 out of 5

And another series comes to an end with Library of Souls, the finale to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. I would have never jumped on this bandwagon without the recommendation of a good friend of mine, but I’m so glad I did!

Following the story of the last sequel, Hollow City, Jacob and Emma must put their lives at risk in order to save their fellow peculiar friends, Miss Peregrine, and the rest of the ymbrynes, who have been captured by the sadistic wights.

As the plot thickens, it becomes a battle between siblings as Miss Peregrine must confront the betrayals of her brothers, Bentham and Caul, who have been experimenting with the souls of peculiar children for their own gain.

Jacob also must find inner strength to harness his ability to control the menacing tentacled monsters known as hollowgast. When he learns of the addictive substance of ambrosia, will he succumb to the temptation to use it to fuel his own powers?

I can’t say too much without giving away this story, but it’s a wonderful tale of supernatural suspense. As always, Riggs sprinkles in his creepy, cool vintage photographs to amplify the spooky mood.

When I recommend this series, I explain that it’s like X-Men, but with young children, and this description still rings true. The war between mutants and humans in that comic book series is similar to the one between peculiars and normals in this tale. It’s entertaining to read about people who can manipulate fire or levitate, but it’s more intriguing to watch whether they use their abilities for good or for evil.

My only complaint with Library of Souls was its treatment of the hollowgast. Despite their dangerous nature, I sympathized with the creatures as Jacob honed his power over them. I wished that Riggs would have offered a more happy ending to Jacob’s first hollowgast, because the Holocaust-esque experiment that it was subjected to broke my heart.

Other than that, Library of Souls was the gripping conclusion to this series that I was hoping for, and I’m so looking forward to Tim Burton’s adaptation, starring Asa Butterfield as Jacob and Eva Green as Miss Peregrine. It is scheduled for release on Christmas of next year.

This ends my reading journey of 2015 with a total of 23 books completed! Be on the lookout for my review of Beautiful You by Chuck Palahniuk in the new year–I’m saving it until after my book club next week, because I have WAY too much to discuss!

Happy New Year, everybody!

XOXO Book Club Babe

Beowulf and the next Tim Burton movie: The latest in literary adaptations

It’s the first day of spring! Despite the crippling drought in California, I admit that I’m enjoying the abnormally warm weather here in the Bay Area. This week I’ve been binge-watching “House of Cards” on Netflix (I’m only on season 2, so no spoilers!), which many people may not know is based on a novel by British politician Michael Dobbs. This remake has got me thinking about other stories that are coming to television and movie theaters!

ComingSoon.net reported two fun facts on March 12, so here’s what I’m excited about when it comes to literary adaptations:

Image via ComingSoon.net

1. ITV, a television network in the United Kingdom, will be re-imagining Beowulf in a 13-part drama series, the filming of which will begin at the end of this month. Kieran Bew (from “Da Vinci’s Demons” and other British TV series) will star as Beowulf with William Hurt as Hrothgar and Joanne Whalley as Rheda. I’m currently reading this epic, so it will be interesting to see it on TV–hopefully following the stylistic footsteps of “Game of Thrones”!

Image via ComingSoon.net

2. Another production underway is the anticipated Tim Burton adaptation of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, which is scheduled for March 4, 2016. The movie will have a star-studded cast, including Asa Butterfield (“Ender’s Game”) as Jacob, Eva Green (“Casino Royale,” “300: Rise of an Empire”) as Miss Peregrine, and Allison Janney (“Mom,” “Masters of Sex”) as a female version of Dr. Golan, who was originally male in the novel. This is a fantastic literary bandwagon to join, and I’m optimistic that Burton will preserve its creepy-cool vibe.

For even more to look forward to, check out my most anticipated movie adaptations of 2015! And let me know what film and TV remakes you’re psyched about in the comments!

Book Review: Hollow City

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Thanks to a friend’s recommendation, I fell in love with Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, a young-adult story by Ransom Riggs that has soared in popularity since its debut in 2011.

It’s about teenager Jacob Portman who befriends a group of kids with special abilities after the mysterious murder of his grandfather.

These peculiars, as they’re called, are taken care of by Miss Peregrine, who belongs to a special race known as ymbrynes–women who can take the form of birds and manipulate time.

Jacob discovers Miss Peregrine and her peculiar children in a time loop set in 1940, which allows the troop to avoid aging and live forever.

However, all is not well, as evil tentacled creatures known as hollows are after the peculiars, as well as their masters called wights who are on a mission to steal their powers and control time.

In Riggs’ sequel Hollow City, Miss Peregrine has been kidnapped by wights and it’s up to her kids to rescue her. And because hollows cannot be seen by anyone other than Jacob, he must learn to strengthen his ability to sense the monsters and kill them.

Of course, the icing on this already delicious read is the vintage photographs. Supposedly all completely real and unaltered except for minor post-processing, they enhance the story’s creepy-cool vibe. They allow the reader to better imagine how the peculiars look and amplify the emotions of particular scenes.

Image via iTunes

Fans will enjoy this sequel for many reasons, including the developing romance between Jacob and Emma, and the deeper look into peculiar history. I felt like this universe has become more intricate, and Riggs does a great job of scrutinizing all of his characters for their actions, rather than rely on a two-dimensional dichotomy of good versus evil.

There’s not much else I can say about Hollow City, except that its sequel can’t come fast enough! Yes, the story continues, but we’ll have to wait about another year before the next installment! Bird willing!

My 1st Blogging Anniversary!

All my blogging anniversary needs is a baby panda!

So I’ve decided to forego this week’s Masterpiece Monday, because tomorrow will be my first blogging anniversary! When I became “Book Club Babe” a year ago, I would never have guessed how fun and rewarding it would be. In the grand scheme of things, my blog may not make that much of an impact, but I’m proud to say that I’ve gained over 14,000 views from all over the world. My readers are the best a blogger could ask for, and I’ve decided to make a better effort this year to engage in more conversations with them.

To celebrate this important milestone, I’m recapping my three most popular posts. Feel free to follow the links to read them in their entirety.

Fifty Shades of Grey: My Rant on Crappy Books and the People Who Buy Them. It looks like I’ve caught the Fifty Shades bandwagon and shook things up a bit with my criticisms. Luckily, my readers have awesome taste in literature and shared their own complaints of the crappy series. It felt so good to preach to the choir! (Originally posted 4/18/12)

Most Hated Words in the English Language? I had discussed The Huffington Post’s list of disgusting-sounding words. You agreed with the grossness of “moist,” “hubby,” and “fetus.” It seemed that anything too medical was also bad on the ears. However, it was nice to end on a good note with our favorite words. (Originally posted 8/2/11)

Book Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. This was a popular read among my readers, who enjoyed the unique photographs. I’m so glad that I read this novel, which I borrowed from a friend after she recommended it, because it was a good experience to read outside my comfort zone. I rated it 4 out of 5, so make sure to put it on your to-read lists! (Originally posted 4/5/12)

So has anyone else reached the first blogging anniversary? Let me know how it felt, and we can virtually toast to another year of books and blogging!