Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children review
You really have to feel for Tim Burton these days. He’s still a highly imaginative director who has some major classics under his belt like Batman, Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, and of course, The Nightmare Before Christmas. There’s no denying that his German Expressionism-style has given his films a look that’s all their own. His recent output however, like Alice in Wonderland and Dark Shadows have failed to connect with his fans, as if they guy is afraid to adapt to his true style. Even Big Eyes, which I loved, seemed more like a traditional Hollywood film rather then a visionary’s realized project.
The closest that Burton felt most at home was with Frankenweenie, a stop motion animated movie that felt like a classic family-horror film from a black and white era. What that film had was no heavy computer animation that seems to be more in use by Tim Burton. I understand that CGI makes up most of the effects in Hollywood, but Burton is in his prime when he isn’t using it. So how does he proceed with live action moviemaking? He either needs to stick with original ideas or find stories that seem like his niche. In comes Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
Young teen Jake Portman (played by Asa Butterfield) has great connection with his grandfather Abe Portman (played by Terrence Stamp), who told his grandson stories about his years during World War II and time spent a home for special children as run by Miss Peregrine. It comes as a shock when Jake finds his grandfather out in the swamp who asks him to find a bird and a loop before dying. Wanting to abide his grandpa’s wishes, he gets the okay from his psychiatrist, Dr. Golan (played by Allison Janney) for him and his father to travel to where the home is, Wales.
Jake’s father thinks that his son wants closure, but is unaware of bigger quest involved. When Jake finds the home destroyed, he’s greeted by a bunch of the peculiar children, who take him into a cave that’s a time loop, sending him to 1943. They then take him back to the house, which is seemingly fine and where he meets the intimidating but kind Miss Peregrine (played by Eva Green). This is where he learns about the Hollows, peculiars that are monsters after a failed experiment. They’re lead by shape shifter Mr. Barron (played by Samuel L. Jackson) who seeks the other children to eat their eyes. Will Jake be able to help the children, stop the monsters, and find truth to his grandpa’s history?
The good news is that this story is up Tim Burton’s alley. The story of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, which is based off a novel of the same name, does give the director to add a lot of his creative flair with some great designs and sets (not to mention a skeleton fight that’s paying homage to Jason and the Argonauts).
The casting is also good as Asa Butterfield continues to prove a charismatic presence as does Eve Green who almost seems like a darker Mary Poppins.
Tim Burton seems ready to go with this idea, and for the first hour, I was completely engrossed with the plot, but then the second half had to start. While it’s not a bad way to go, but with the sudden jumps through time and many of the characters separating, you start to wonder whether this would have been better as a Netflix series or something? The problem this movie has is the same as many other young adult stories have as adaptations; trying explain the world and plot exposition under it’s two hour running frame. This almost does, but you could tell the script was having trouble. If the story had been tighter and more focused, I might have called it a welcome return to live action for Tim Burton. Otherwise, it’s standard.
I’ll give this three and a half photos of peculiar children out of five. It may have messy parts, but it’s such a good-looking mess that I can see how fans of the books would probably be willing to overlook those parts. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children should probably welcome many people, though I might visit only once more.