WHEN news emerged of the plans to adapt the classic novel into a major motion picture many fans were overjoyed.

The story of loss, of finding a place you belong when you do not fit the cookie cutter ideals of others and of a very unusual family seemed perfect for the big screen.

Added to only by the visual splendour and gothic imagery typical of director Tim Burton in the trailer, there was an expectation that the cinematic equivalent would be nothing shy of magnificent.

Sadly, however it simply never got close to fulfilling those lofty expectations.

While the film does provide sumptuous settings found in the craggy cliffs of Wales, a sight so clear you can almost feel the cold sea mist across your face and the imposing titular home and its grounds, resplendent in a rainbow of hues, the film seems more concerned on its visual impression than the substance within it.

Several characters are admittedly well portrayed such as Miss Peregrine herself, played wonderfully by Eva Green who evokes a genuine concern and fierce protection for her wards.

Enoch, a sullen and almost sadistic Peculiar, has the ability of providing life to his inanimate creations (adapted from the books innocuous clay soldiers into horrifying hybrids of doll and beast for the sake of what Burton believes to be necessary horror).

The main focus and love interests of the film however, the once believable ‘average boy’ who turns out to be so much more than average, and the wafer thin and wide eyed Emma Bloom, an identikit model of Burton’s preferred female characters, do nothing to breathe life into their roles.

The romance feels forced, a necessary component in yet another young teen movie which seems so far from the slow and honest hints of love the book allowed to develop, and while the first portion of the film shows promise in expanding upon the mystery and magic of Peculiardom, the latter half feels jarred and rushed due to Burton’s complete ignorance of the novel.

His creation of a half-hearted and bizarre finale set in Blackpool, a place he admits to being somewhat obsessed with, only adds to the notion of a wrong fit for the film.

The use of poor CGI skeletons in a battle sequence against invisible monsters set to blaring electronic dance music seems worlds away from the magical and quaint beginning, and despite a plethora of acting talent in the form of Samuel. L. Jackson, Rupert Everett, Judi Dench and Allison Janney, the sense of wonder and realism is destroyed as quickly as the walking piles of bones onscreen.

Those who have not read the novel may find delight in the adventures of the outcast children and be pleased by the overall loud and colourful aura that the complete work provides.

However for fans of Ransom Riggs’ bestseller, the collision of two seemingly separate films makes this a very peculiar viewing indeed.

By Sophie Chadwick

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