THE STORY – When his beloved grandfather leaves Jake clues to a mystery that spans different worlds and times, he finds a magical place known as Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children. But the mystery and danger deepen as he gets to know the residents and learns about their special powers – and their terrifying enemies. Ultimately, Jake discovers that only his own special peculiarity can save his new friends.
THE CAST – Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Chris O’Dowd, Allison Janey, Rupert Everett, Terence Stamp, Ella Purnell, Judi Dench & Samuel L. Jackson
THE TEAM – Tim Burton (Director) & Jane Goldman (Writer)
THE RUNNING TIME – 127 Minutes
By Mike V.
In 1985 “Pee-Wees Big Adventure” burst into movie theaters everywhere. That film, beloved by critics and audiences alike, showed amazing promise for the young first-time director Tim Burton. In the years since that fantastic debut, Burton has crafted a catalog of titles unique to him. Whether he was creating spellbinding storybook characters (“Edward Scissorhands”), gothic superheroes (“Batman”), or a quirky reimagining of classic children’s films (“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”), Burton has managed to stay unique and is not content to rest on his laurels. Unfortunately, “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” is a film that lacks the unique quality of Burtons earlier work and ultimately feels safe in comparison to the films that have come before it.
“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” is based on the 2011 novel of the same name. Asa Butterfield stars in this film as a boy named Jake, who is trying to come to grips with the death of his beloved grandfather. Jake’s therapist convinces his parents that it might be for the best if Jake travels to Wales in order to gain some closure on his grandfather’s passing. While in Wales, Jake begins to follow clues left behind by his grandfather that will lead him on a magical journey filled with time travel and adventure, which will forever change him. The film eventually becomes a coming of age story that sees Jake learning things about himself he never knew.
The film boasts a fantastic cast, with both veteran actors and new faces being able to stand on equal ground. Eva Green is, as usual, a standout actress. She elevates every piece of dialogue she is given and really sells her character’s mysterious, ethereal qualities. Samuel Jackson is fantastic as a scene-chewing, shape-shifting villain. You can tell Jackson had a ball making this film and that Burton allowed him to be as big as he wanted. Cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel and Tim Burton have collaborated together on films before (“Big Eyes” and “Dark Shadows”) and their trust for each other is clearly on display as Delbonnel is able to bring Burton’s mad visions to light. The wardrobe team must also be commended. Each costume is fantastic to behold, especially as the film begins to dabble in time travel.
Jane Goldman adapted “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” from a novel written by Ransom Riggs. That novel read like a love letter to all things Tim Burton, so it seemed like a no-brainer to have him helm this film. Unfortunately, the script is a weightless and toothless affair. In her adaptation, Goldman has made every line of dialogue feel stilted and robotic. Luckily the actors are able to elevate this material, but even they can only do so much. Burton has made a career on creating kooky and bizarre characters (Please see the man with scissors for hands), but while these characters are visually fun, they are never given the chance to use their powers in any meaningful way. This movie lacks any kind of grand impact or consequence for these characters having such strong powers. A school of freaks with amazing powers sounds an awful lot like the plot of another movie and comparing the two is inevitable. Ultimately, this is “X-Men” by way of Tim Burton, except without the high stakes and emotional punches.
“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” is a fun film with some great acting. A girl with a second mouth in the back of her head, a girl who can fly, and invisible twins that wear burlap sacks are just some of the peculiar children you will encounter in this film. Ultimately, your enjoyment will depend on how much you appreciate Tim Burton’s specific directing style. Sadly, what could have been a fun wink at Burton tropes turned into a movie that makes you long for the once visionary director’s glory days.
THE FINAL SCORE
THE GOOD – Cast seems to be having a ball and cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel crafts some fantastic images which is a great fit for Burton’s style.
THE BAD – The script needs a ton of work and Burton’s passion for the material is lacking.
THE FINAL SCORE – 2/10