Movie Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016)
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016)
Director: Tim Burton
Cast: Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Samuel L. Jackson
Synopsis: A teenager stumbles across a time loop on the grounds of a dilapidated building that was once a home for peculiar children.
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Tim Burton’s reputation has lost some of its lustre following a string of under-performing releases, and it doesn’t look as though Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, the latest screen adaptation of a Young Adult novel unashamedly staking a claim to be the next big franchise, is going to do much to reverse that run. Its biggest problem stems from the fact that like its hero, a young American teenager named Jake (Asa Butterfield – Ender’s Game), we step into the middle of a long-running saga, so two-thirds of the movie is peppered with large chunks of exposition leading up to a lacklustre showdown which seems to go on forever.
Following the mysterious death of his grandfather (Terence Stamp – Young Guns, Big Eyes), an eccentric old dude who filled his head with bedtime stories of the eponymous home and its proprietress, Jake travels to an island off Wales with his well-meaning but clueless father to visit the home he’s heard so much about. Initially, he finds a burned out wreck, but then he stumbles upon a time loop which transports him back to a perpetually sunny day in September 1943. It’s the day that the home was bombed by German aircraft, and it provides a refuge for its residents, an assortment of peculiar children who live under the care of Miss Peregrine (Eva Green – Perfect Sense, 300: Rise of an Empire), from the wights, mutant peculiars led by Barron (Samuel L. Jackson – Cell, The Legend of Tarzan), who must feed on the eyeballs of peculiar children in order to maintain their vaguely human form.
Miss Peregrine makes a formidable guardian – a kind of Mary Poppins with cojones – and the film would have benefited greatly from more screen time for Green in a role that would no doubt have gone to Helena Bonham Carter had she not split from Burton before filming commenced. The children are a rather colourless bunch, and the movie’s listless attempt to generate some conflict between Jake and Enoch (Finlay MacMillan), a boy of similar age who resents Jake’s interest in feisty heroine, Emma (Ella Purnell – Kick Ass 2), is resolved with the kind of abrupt transfer of affection which hasn’t been seen in a movie since about 1947,
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is an odd hybrid, an uncomfortable blending of the Famous Five with a Clive Barker horror and a Pink Floyd video. Its 12A rating is something of a surprise given the intensity of some scenes – although it might appear to be a summer-and-lemonade family movie, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children has the kind of dark underbelly you’d expect from a Burton movie – it just doesn’t have the quirky inventiveness we might hope for.
(Reviewed 4th October 2016)