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Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children Review

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With it’s tentacle mouthed monsters, period setting, and gothic fantasy bent, Tim Burton is the perfect fit for Ransom Riggs’ 2011 novel Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, a sort of what if scenario of the X-Men created with director’s distinctive style in mind. From a visual stand point, the movie is classic Burton through and through, being his most striking work in some time (Frankenweeine excluded). But as much as Burton’s imagination is allowed to flow unfettered, it can’t overcome the massive obstacle of a stagnant narrative that doesn’t let the strange ideas soar as high as they should.


Asa Butterfield takes the lead as friendless teenager Jake who, having grown up on his grandfather’s (Terence Stamp) fairytales of a group of children with fantastic abilities that make their home on a remote Welsh island. Following the old man’s untimely death, Jake discovers the fairytales are real, and must help the children’s guardian, Miss Peregrine (Eva Green), protect them from a group of blood thirsty monsters. There’s much more to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children than that, and that’s where the movie’s major problem lies: it’s far too complicated for a movie aimed at the YA crowd. Taking time out to explain guff like time loops and the frankly ludicrous origins of the movie’s bad guys, the Hollowghasts, slows the pacing of the movie down to a crawl, and all the beautiful imagery, from stop-motion dolls in a fight to the death to a girl floating lazily across the sky, won’t stop you from glancing at your and hoping the story would get a move on. It’s a shame, because there is buckets loads of weirdo charm to be found here. Of course, there is a way to juggle exposition and action, but Jane Goldman’s script can’t really find that sweet spot, instead just ladling info dump after info dump before wrapping up everything with a pretty lacklustre finale. The characters don’t fare that well either. The kids just get lost in the background, and of the adult cast, only Green as the strong willed Miss Peregrine and a scenery chewing Samuel L. Jackson in full bad guy mode make anything approaching an impression

When Burton is given a chance to fully explore the movie’s rich, fantastical world, that’s when it truly shines. It’s no secret that the director has been in a bit of a slump lately, his recent string of movies not really reaching the heights of his earlier works, but here you get glimmers of classic Burton, and he seems to relish the chance to creep out a whole new generation of children. The movie is mixed through with the sort of weirdness only Burton can pull off. The aforementioned floating girls, Emma (Ella Purnell), needs to wear lead shoes to keep herself grounded. A Shirley Temple-esque little girl has a gigantic mouth at the back of her neck. You get the picture. Unfortunately, like the script, it starts to lose it’s way as the movie marches on, and by the third act comes along, what should be epic and fantastical just feels small and dull, with a final fight between Ray Harryhausen inspired living skeletons and Slenderman like monsters, set to incredibly jarring dub step, being a massive missed opportunity to end the movie on a high note.


While Tim Burton may be firing on all cylinders when it comes to the visuals, a bland, exposition filled script hurts Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children more than anything. Glimmers of a Tim Burton comeback are there, we just have to wait a little bit longer.






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