Title: Miss Peregine’s Home For Peculiar Children
Director: Tim Burton
Writers: Jane Goldman, Ransom Riggs (novel)
Stars: Asa Butterfield, Eva Green, Samuel L. Jackson
Release Date: In cinemas now.
Review by: Dave Griffiths
Tim Burton fans, it is time to rejoice because the master of creepiness returns with his creative genius to in full swing. In the last few years, films like Big Eyes and Dark Shadows have failed to take full advantage of his talents. Finally, Miss Peregine’s Home For Peculiar Children sees Burton’s creativity come to the fore in a film that is visually appealing and resurrects pre-CGI special effects.
Based Ransom Riggs’ novel, Miss Peregine’s Home For Peculiar Children centres around unpopular teenager Jake (Asa Butterfield – Ender’s Game). The lad has been brought up listening to his Grandfather Abe’s (Terence Stamp – Wanted) far-fetched tales of a mysterious island he once inhabited. Jake’s father Franklin (Chris O’Dowd – The Sapphires), dismisses these tales as part of his Grandfather’s dementia. Nonetheless, Jake finds himself wondering whether or not they are true when he finds his grandfather brutally murdered and he witnesses a ‘monster’ at the scene.
Soon, Jake discovers the tales to be true upon meeting Miss Peregrine (Eva Green – Dark Shadows). A mysterious shape-shifter, Peregrine runs a school for children with peculiar abilities and whilst their lifestyle seems picturesque, they are involved in a dangerous war with the psychotic Barron (Samuel L. Jackson – Pulp Fiction).
On the surface, it would be very easy to dismiss Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children as an incongruous cross between Harry Potter and X-Men. However, Burton’s expertise ensures this film is much more than that. Burton’s fingerprints are all over this film as soon as the dour white store where Jake works gives way to Burton’s world. A World War II bombing raid gets a steam-punk transformation, jittery special effects re-animate combating dolls and old-school CGI brins skeletons a la Jason and the Argonauts.
Whilst some younger moviegoers may find the use of the ‘older’ effects confounding, it suits the film’s constant transitions between periods of history perfectly. Better still, such methods are perfect for coaxing Burton’s creative genius.
Although the constant time-jumping can be confusing, Burton gets away with this by rendering the main protagonist just as confused. At its heart, the plot is a relatively typical tale of good-versus-evil augmented with coming-of-age romance.
Under Tim Burton’s watchful eye, the cast here regularly gets a chance to shine. Although Butterfield’s performance is nowhere near as intense as in Ender’s Game, he manages to do a fine job despite this. Likewise, Samuel L. Jackson is far from at his best but appears to revel as the menacing Barron. The real standouts are Eva Green and Ella Purnell, with the latter announcing herself as a star of the future. As with Mia Wasikowska, Burton manages to get the best out of his young charge.
Some parents may find Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children a little too dark for young children, but adults and young adults alike will certainly warm to it. Burton returns to form doing what he does best and balancing the creepy with the creative.