Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children Review

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

It would be quite lazy to outright dismiss Tim Burton as a director who only delivers when he is working with original material.

True, Scissorhands and Beetlejuice are classics, while at the other end of the spectrum, I am still trying to work out what went wrong with Planet of the Apes.

Something sure did.

But sometimes he pulls it off: for every Chocolate Factory, there’s a Sleepy Hollow, and for every Alice, a Batman.

With Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, we are, dare I say it, back in Planet of the Apes territory.

Jake, our hero, is a disaffected teenager eking out a pretty mundane existence in Florida. One suspects big things in Jake’s future.

We know this, because the film starts with one of those voice-overs where the main character says something like, ‘did you ever wish you were special?’ before something happens within the first act which shows that the main character is, indeed, special.

Jake’s closest connection is his grandfather Abe, played by Terrence Stamp. When Abe is attacked by a strange creature, this sets in motion a series of events which sees Jake travel to Wales to seek out a mysterious house where his grandfather grew up.

Jake discovers that the house is a sanctuary of sorts for children with special or ‘peculiar’ abilities, such as super strength, fire-starting or the ability to fly. The children are looked after by Miss Peregrine, who herself has the ability to transform into a bird.

Miss Peregrine and the children then find themselves targeted by evil forces. Can Jake step in and save the day?

Adapted from the novel by Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children looked to be perfect Burton material. I was expecting some sort of dark hybrid between X-Men and Harry Potter.

Instead we get quite a cluttered film, particularly the first half, which feels like a race to get to the titular home.

Without having read the novel, it’s difficult to say what should have been jettisoned but a more streamlined adaptation of the source material may have been warranted.

The crammed-in plot points throw the film’s pacing off a little, meaning Samuel L Jackson’s villain doesn’t really show up until the third act. And I’m still not really sure what his character was all about.

In fact, I’m going to be honest with you: I had pretty much no idea what the heck was going on for most of the third act. There are time loops, invisible monsters and an epic battle taking place in… Blackpool?

The performances are also lacking. Asa Butterfield, terrific in recent work such as X + Y, fails to generate charisma here, with the rest of the teen characters vying for limited screen time. With the exception of Finlay MacMillan’s Enoch and Ella Purnell’s Emma, none really stand out.

Eva Green is the only one who creates something out of her character. Ostensible cameos from Judi Dench, Allison Janney and Rupert Everett do not add much and Chris O’Dowd is wasted in a supporting role that the film ultimately seems to forget all about.

There are some nice Burton flourishes on show, such as undoubted input into the nightmarish look of the villainous Hollowgasts, but these cannot redeem Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

All in all, a peculiar movie. There is clearly great subject matter here; it’s just a shame about the delivery.

Conor Brennan

One Response to “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children Review”
  1. avatar David Murphy says:

    Love this lad’s reviews. Great stuff!

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Dates ‘n stuff

September 2016