Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is like a cross between X-Men and Harry Potter. This dark fantasy was also clearly inspired by Mary Poppins, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Peter Pan, The Chronicles of Narnia, A Series of Unfortunate Events, and various other popular tales. Like so many young adult adaptations, the film often runs the risk of just being another cheap knockoff. Luckily, that’s not the case. The moral of the story is to embrace what makes you different. Despite feeling familiar at times, Miss Peregrine effectively gets this message across with just enough imagination, charm, and wonder to stand out.
Despite feeling familiar at times, Miss Peregrine effectively gets this message across with just enough imagination, charm, and wonder to stand out.
Based on Ransom Riggs’ hit novel, the film stars Asa Butterfield of Hugo as Jake Portman, a teenage boy that has trouble relating to his neglectful mom and dad. Jake finds a parental figure in his grandfather (Terence Stamp), who loves to tell stories about Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. After grandpa suddenly suffers a mysterious death, Jake begins to suspect that there might be some truth to these bedtime stories. He travels to Wales where Miss Peregrine’s children’s home was supposedly bombed during wartime. Upon arriving, Jake learns that Miss Peregrine and her peculiar children are actually stuck in a time loop. Repeating the same day over and over again, they never need to grow old or face persecution from the outside world.
Eva Green is a delight as the precise Miss Peregrine, who is seemingly always in control of her surroundings. Ella Purnell also leaves a strong impression as Emma Bloom, a young girl who can float and must wear heavy shoes to stay down. All of the peculiar children have inventive abilities, such as invisibility, super strength, and reanimating the dead. Screenwriter Jane Goldman is actually quite clever in how she integrates each child’s peculiarity into the story, particularly during the rousing climax. Not everybody uses their peculiarity for good, however. Miss Peregrine and her children are hunted by Mr. Barron (Samuel L. Jackson), an undead human with the power to take on the appearance of any other person. As per usual, Jackson is tons of fun as the villain, although at times it feels like he’s basically playing himself.
Being a Tim Burton directorial outing, you can count on a visually interesting experience. As he did in Corpse Bride, Burton drapes the present in blue and black lighting. Whenever we travel to the past, however, the silver screen beams with eccentricity. The special effects artists do a great job at bringing everyone’s peculiarity to life, managing to be gothic, whimsical, and humorous simultaneously. Burton doesn’t solely rely on CGI either, occasionally working in first-rate stop-motion and practical effects to create a more convincing world.
Being a Tim Burton directorial outing, you can count on a visually interesting experience.
At the movie’s heart is a theme regarding acceptance, drawing parallels to many historical events. Of course this is far from the first story to mix superpowers with prejudice. While it’s a good theme, we’ve seen this in several of the other films listed above. As a result, this is the department where Miss Peregrine starts to feel repetitive. Unless you’ve read the source material, the plot can also be difficult to follow at times. Fortunately, the filmmakers don’t spend too much time trying to explain the complicated logistics of this world. The real focus here is to partake in a lot of creative imagery with several quirky characters. If that’s what you’re looking for, Miss Peregrine delivers an enjoyable adventure with enough eye candy to satisfy your artistic appetite.