It’s time for an interesting film that uses a the concept behind X-Men, but with its own spin. Considering how sad the last few X-Men films have been, it’s not hard to construct a universe that’s more interesting. (At least when it comes to films) Unfortunately, this film jumps off the cliff by the end as the logic just doesn’t make sense at times while also having some of the worst writing that I’ve seen in a film in a very long time. (“Some” being the key word here since Pixels exists) It takes you out of the experience, but at least it is interesting and never really drags on.
Jake was just an average boy who tries to live a normal life. His Grandfather would tell him stories of people with fantastic powers and other such tales, but Jake paid him no mind. One day, the grandfather is attacked and murdered by a large creature. Everyone tells Jake that he is crazy, but the kid discovers a recent letter from the head of the school for Peculiar Children. Jake convinces his Dad to tag along as they head to the island and Jake discovers that he is the chosen one. He must save the school from the giant monsters before it is too late, but will he gain some intelligence in the meantime or are all of his friends doomed?
It’s hard to know where to start here. I think I want to go with Jake since I have a lot to say about him although none of it is good. He is easily one of the most incompetent main characters that I have ever seen and also one of the most unintelligent and unlikable. Lets go chronologically here. I guess I can give him a slight pass for not believing the grand father since it would be a tough tale to buy, but after he sees the creature and how the grand father is murdered…he should accept it as true right? He believes it enough to go to the school, but then he is startled by the kids that the grand father has talked to him about for many years. Jake should not be startles, but he is and then he trips and knocks himself out.
Jake continues to embarrass himself further for the rest of the movie. One girl is embarrassed to eat in front of him because of her ability, but Jake says that its fine since he’s a tough kid and can handle it. Needless to say, he gives her a sad, scared, worried kind of look afterwards and shifts in his seat. Later on, everyone warns Jake that the school bully is going to try and scare him by showing Jake the kid who was murdered. Jake knows this, but wants to meet the kid anyway. I won’t say exactly how the interaction goes, but Jake runs out of the room screaming…which tells you enough.
Part of the plot revolves around how Miss Peregrine keeps the kids in a 24 hour time loop which saves them from the bombing in WW II, but also keeps them eternally young. As a result, they live the same day over and over again and have been doing well without Jake. Knowing this, the main heroine brings Jake out to the country side to see how Miss Peregrine destroys the monster every day. Jake suddenly forgets common sense when he sees the monsters and yells out a warning to Peregrine even though she clearly did not need one and Jake could have ruined everything there. Need I go on? Yes! I could write a whole essay on Jake and his unending fails.
Another sad moment is when Jake decides to take down the main villain. He has the element of surprise on his side and a point blank target. Jake misses anyway and then proceeds to miss the next half a dozen shots. Some of them were at very close range and the main villain doesn’t even try to dodge since he tends to forget that Jake exists. Jake messed up every single time. There’s another moment where one of the monsters is choking one of his classmates. Jake grabs the arrow launcher so he can take the monster out, but then he freezes. With his terrible aim, I suppose I can’t totally blame him, but aim at the monster’s legs at least. It was lifting the classmate very high off the ground so it was another clear shot. Jake was very slow on the uptake the whole time and you also have to love how he breaks his promises instantly. He told Peregrine that he would protect everyone, but once she is gone he decides to bolt. He has a completely safe and protected Grandpa to check on after all!
This was also one of the big plot holes in the novel if you ask me. The logic used here is that if you alter the past then you’ll change the future. It’s simple enough if you go with that theory, but it doesn’t work since time acts linearly in this film. When the main character spends a day in 1943, a day still passes in the present. As such, the grandfather shouldn’t come back to life if a certain past event never happened. If time did shift like that, then the Peculiar Kids should all be in very different situations as well since the loop would have never been necessary. The film just tripped itself up here.
Back to Jake, I also couldn’t back him up on the romance. I have to give half of the blame to Emma here as well. So, let’s put this into context. Emma is at least 80 years old, but her age is likely far greater than that since we don’t know how long the time loop had started in the first place. She fell in love with Jake’s grandfather, but he ditched them so he could murder villains and age like a normal person. So, she decided to go for the rebound guy, aka Jake. Jake looks completely identical to his grandfather so that works for her and Jake falls in love with her within seconds so he’s fine with this. I’m not even going to mention the fact that Emma should double think this since Jake was so easy to obtain, but it shows that this romance is pretty fake. Not to mention the fact that Jake barely even thought twice about ditching her in the end only to visit her again by the end to make everything seem okay.
Jake’s also anything but heroic. At one point, he says that the only way he will stay to help the kids is if Emma becomes his girlfriend. That isn’t the exact line, but it is essentially what he meant. He was talking about how people needed him back home and he won’t only stay as their guardian if Emma- but then she cut him off and told him to go away. Jake basically just came across as a poorly written jerk the whole time and the amount of times that he should have died in this film is quite high. He just had the writing to protect him. Lets also not forget that fact that Jake completely led the villains right to the Home’s doorstep. Just something to think about…
There’s one more big plot hole here. Emma’s whole gimmick is that she can manipulate the air which allows her to make all of the water exit a room and such. That’s great…but she still needs iron boots in order to stay on the planet. Are you really telling me that she can’t make a gust of wind to bring herself back down? That makes no sense and it’s such a core element to her powers that I can’t believe the film didn’t address this. Perhaps the book did, but such a thing needed to have been in the film as well. I feel like the writer was in over his/her head on this one and as such, all of these plot holes began to show up. Not to mention that most of the characters are unlikable, underused, or just don’t do much and you’re left wondering what just happened.
All right, lets talk about the positives real quick. For starters, there are more action and intensity than I was expecting so that’s definitely a good thing. It died down a little after the start, but a strong beginning is always important. The visuals were fairly good as well even if the film never let the kids use their powers all that much. The time loop was cool to watch and Peregrine’s outfit is certainly unique. It had a very regal esque look to it. The design for the monsters was also solid.
The best character in the film was definitely Jake’s Dad. He’ll certainly be a polarizing figure, but he worked quite well for me. He clearly doesn’t really know how to be a Dad and makes a lot of mistakes, but he does seem to care. Certainly more than the other supporting characters from Jake’s past. (Especially with a certain plot twist from his one of his advisers) He was just a lot of fun to watch even if he was portrayed rather extremely. Some characters just can’t resist Miller Time after all. You have to look at the Dad as a fun comedy character. Naturally, he isn’t meant to be taken seriously.
As for the rest of the cast, you already know my views on Jake. I can’t say that I liked Emma either as she was far too dramatic and all over the place with Jake. She should have just placed the friend zone card right from the get go. The little girl with super strength and the twins with their masks were all right, but they didn’t get much character here. Victor is another character who hasn’t gotten to do anything and I suppose that will be developed in a sequel. Enoch is the bully who is definitely not likable. He’s basically just around to make things tough for Jake and naturally this means that he has a very easy job. Olive is all right and her fire powers are some of the most useful in a fight, but she is completely invalidated when the ice villain is able to defeat her. The whole point of having fire powers it that you shouldn’t be frozen so easily. It was a rather embarrassing fight for her and the rushed romance between the two was rather forced. After 100 years of working together you finally develop your feelings after a quick fight? Hmmmmm.
Most of the other kids are just around to remind you that they have powers and aren’t afraid to use them. Miss Peregrine is the final big hero. (Unless you count the other Time Wizard, but she looks rather terrible the whole time. Getting kidnapped is one thing, but getting one shotted in the next scene? That’s even worse! She’s a character who just seemed rather odd. The film hypes her up as a very strong character who can put up a fight, but it turns out that she is rather powerless and can’t even beat a single opponent. Theoretically, the film acts as if one monster can take down the whole school and that’s…just embarrassing. I feel like all of Peregrine’s hype was destroyed when the main villain walked into the room and that hurt her character a lot. She’s charismatic, but it appears that she is all talk for the moment. Not to mention the fact that she seems a little corrupt as she will murder people quite easily and does keep the children confined in a time loop for eternity while treating them like kids. It doesn’t seem quite right, but that isn’t really delved into.
I have to quickly jump onto a few more plot holes while I’m at it. This one’s not really a plot hole so much as it is a power inconsistency. The headmistress of another time loop claimed that she couldn’t save any of her students because there were too many monsters. Later, it is shown that a single monster can destroy them all since the monsters are invisible. Maybe the Time Loop character was trying to sound impressive, but it seems like the writer didn’t really think it through. Furthermore, a moment in the climax is another plot hole. The whole climax doesn’t make sense since the villain could destroy all of the kids several times, but chooses not too. Based on how he was acting prior to those moments, it just makes no sense. He has waited for this moment for many years, he would definitely be taking it at least a little seriously. Still, a monster grabs him and the main villain forgets that he has powers. I seriously could not believe what I was watching. It made absolutely no sense and ranks up there along with the sad scene of watching skeletons take down the monsters. It makes absolutely no sense!! Speaking of not making any sense, I hope that a sequel deals with how bringing people back to life and forcing them to fight against their will is rather shady and morally suspect as well as how Peregrine left the rest of the schools to fight for themselves by not warning them that the villains were coming. She is directly responsible for the villain mass murdering a group of kids since she could have warned them, but chose not too. Again….everyone in this film is either shady, has no character, or is just weak.
You seriously just need to throw logic out the window when you watch this film. It’ll let you enjoy it a whole lot more since the writing is just disgraceful. Beyond the plot hax, the main villain isn’t bad I suppose. At least he has a personality and is fairly charismatic. I just can’t take him seriously and the whole eyeballs thing prevents him from being all that good. As you can tell, I mainly had a big problem with the characters in this film and the writing. Still, that isn’t quite enough to give the film a negative rating. It still could have probably gotten a 5 and maybe narrowly a 6. Unfortunately, the film hit two big snags.
One of these was animal violence. Yes, the film resorted to having a herd of cows die for no real reason. It had nothing to do with anything and the scene should have been cut out. The other part is the fact that the villains have to eat eyes to power up. That’s just super dark and the concept should not have existed. It’s just there to be gritty and dark and this does not mesh well with the rest of the film. Seeing the villains consume eyeballs for lengthy periods of time is just disturbing and disgusting. The scenes aren’t horribly graphic as they’re made to look gross, but fake. Still, it’s not something that should have been in the film either and these two negatives ensured a negative score for the film. There’s not much of a soundtrack to be noticed here so that couldn’t help to earn any points either. I’m sure that the tunes were decent, but as I don’t remember any of them, they couldn’t have been all that good.
Overall, This is one of those films that is easy to talk about. I probably didn’t even address everything here as there is just so much to say. On a conceptual level, this film is just very interesting as I like the premise and the world that was built up. Unfortunately, it was simply mishandled and that’s a shame. The Dad was a fun character and I definitely missed him once Jake jumped back into the fantasy world. Jake panicked once again and forgot that he was in a time loop, but I’d expect nothing less from him by that point. I would recommend you check this film out, but you should probably take a pass on it. Watch the film if you want a logic-less action film that must have taken writing cues from Now You See Me, but you should probably just watch Man of Steel again. Now that film was a deep action film with a lot of epic moments. If this film gets a sequel, I’m going to expect it to explain away some of these plot holes so it can try to save the franchise.