• Guy Jeffries

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Review


Director: Tim Burton

Starring: Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Terence Stamp, Ella Purnell, Samuel L. Jackson, Chris O'Dowd.

Well, it's exactly as the title suggests. Peculiar indeed. I think "peculiar" is just a polite way of saying bizarre, but it's Tim Burton's kind of bizarre, so it shouldn't be that much of a shock if you're familiar with his work, and if you're not, I suggest you watch some of his awesome catalogue, especially Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, Big Fish and any of his stop-motion work.

We've established I don't read nowhere near as much I as would like (it's a choice between book or cinema time?) so I haven't read Ransom Riggs' titular novel on which this filmed is based. However I am aware of Jane Goodman doing the screenplay, who's best known for her work on Kingsmen, X-Men: First Class and The Woman In Black.

Asa Butterfield is becoming quite the unlikely child hero, previously playing Hugo in Hugo and Ender in Ender's Game, this being next venture as Jake, an unknowing peculiar who goes to Wales in search of the truth surrounding his Grandfather Abe, played by Terence Stamp.

He, of course finds the mysterious house, and meets Eva Green's Miss Peregrine and the rest of the household's inhabitants, a bunch of bizarre children with extraordinary abilities. Miss Peregrine is like a darker version of Mary Poppins, all-knowing yet quite enigmatic where as the children are as bold as anything. The house is like a wee cottage version of Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters.

There's going to be some bright new stars from this bunch of young casters. Especially Ella Purnell, hot stuff, Lauren McCrostie, Hayden Keeler-Stone who looks like a child version of Patrick Stewart! And Mr. Holmes' Milo Parker who I immediately recognised from Robot Overlords. He's quite the actor but a little disappointed he didn't get much screen time here.

It's quite scary for a children's film, and possibly too confusing looping time-travel in there. But this is a Tim Burton movie after all and I can't comment if the book is the same, but the children are being hunted by "Hollows", no-eyed monsters with elongated limbs, who have an appetite for eyeballs. Seriously, they're quite gruesome.

One thing I can say about the book, is that Samuel L. Jackson's character was written into the movie and does not appear in the novel, himself being fabricated for dramatic purposes, which does seem to be the weak link in the film. Jackson being the chief of the "Hollows" leading a band of worser-still peculiars. He actually finds it hard not to curse, but this film won't be making any of his mofo montages on YouTube. Still, he does good playing bad and is actually quite enjoyable to watch.

Aside from Jackson's role, the plot on the whole is quite flimsy, or it just doesn't fit well together and feels quite messy. A lot of it being quite anticlimactic, even Jake's peculiarity isn't wholly amazing and leaves you thinking "is that it?" As his grandfather's pet name for him hints at something bigger.

Another thing that bugged me was the casting of Chris O'Dowd. I'm happy to see him, being a massive fan of the IT Crowd but why cast him and make him put on a fake American accent? It didn't work and was off-putting. Can't say I noticed much of Butterfield's accent but O'Dowd's was awful, maybe not awful, but just wasn't him.

What was good is that it is entertaining, and doesn't feel 127 minutes long so that's a good sign. The special effects are good but not great and Burton had to get some stop-motion animation in there somewhere, which was great but quite sinister. Reminded me a lot of Ray Harryhausen's work from original Clash of The Titans and Jason and The Argonauts. Colleen Atwood, Burton's regular costume designer, does her usual magic, dressing the peculiars.

Surprisingly no Danny Elfman on the score this time round, but Mike Higham and Matthew Margeson do a good job though there's nothing memorable from the score. Florence + The Machine do a great end credit song.

Being a 12A it's difficult to know who the target audience is, it's not really children friendly and could well be a source of nightmares, but it isn't grown-up enough for adults to enjoy, like Pan's Labyrinth, maybe Burton got lost between the two resulted in the mix. It's mediocre but still entertaining, just missing impact or something truly spectacular. Ransom Riggs has release two more books as part of a trilogy so it would be interesting to see if the next books are in the pipeline.

Running Time: 8

The Cast: 8

Performance: 8

Direction: 7

Story: 6

Script: 6

Creativity: 9

Soundtrack: 6

Job Description: 6

The Extra Bonus Point: 0

Buying the Bluray?: No

64% 6/10

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