Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

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With a strong visual aesthetic and a massive cult following, Tim Burton’s career is filled with some of the greatest films of all time, and from Edward Scissorhands to Beetlejuice his characters always seem to make an impact. Of course, that’s his early career, with many of his latest films (Dark Shadows, Alice in Wonderland) failing to make their mark in one way or another. His latest film seems to check all the boxes of what we’ve come to expect from the master of the gothic, but which way does it fall?

Based on the book by Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children follows Florida teen Jake Portman (Asa Butterfield) who, after the mysterious death of his grandfather, travels to a remote island off Wales in search of a children’s home where his grandfather lived during the war. After befriending the powerful children who live there, accompanied by their caretaker Miss Peregrine (Eva Green), Jake and the children must work quickly to solve a dangerous mystery that spans across time and threatens others like them.

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Like any Tim Burton movie, the film’s art and production is perfectly quirky, a pre-war gothic wonderland set during the war that strikingly conveys the film’s time-bending ideas. But more than just the Tim Burton aesthetic, the film is also true to the visuals from Riggs’ book, which uses odd and unexplainable photos from the pre-war era to construct the narrative of specially-powered children living in a home. From the lead shoes worn by Emma Bloom (Ella Purnell) that stop her from floating away (her special power being air) to a delightfully creepy puppet war orchestrated by the home’s resident bad boy Enoch (Finlay MacMillan), faceless monsters and bowls of eyeballs, Burton and Riggs seem cut from the same cloth as their gothic spectacle unfolds.

And yet, the unfolding of the film is where it hits its turbulence. Despite its two hour run time, it barely feels as though anything happens; the dense mythology of the film results in an overly long first half full of exposition and explanation, so by the time we reach what should be the final climax, there’s been barely any action to lead us in. Adaptations are always tricky, and Miss Peregrine’s seems to have much cut out of it, with emotional relationships between characters and more action missing that would otherwise even out the tone of the film more effectively. There are some fascinating ideas and elements to this film – the idea of time loops (existing in the same time forever), the children’s powers, the history both embedded in it and created around it – but what needed to be handled more deftly at times just became confusing and sometimes convoluted.

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What does help us through the throes of this film, however, is Eva Green as the titular Miss Peregrine; strict but caring, she carries the tension of the film wonderfully, looking spectacularly gothic as she does it. Her affection for the children she cares for carries the younger actor’s performances; unfortunately, the teenage actors do fall a little flat. Though he’s one of the most talented up-and-comers, Asa Butterfield doesn’t quite bring the emotion to this outing, and his chemistry with Purnell’s Emma seems underdeveloped; she isn’t bad, however, just not supported well. And Samuel L. Jacksons villainous Barron is a mixed bag; in some scenes he’s incredibly creepy, others he comes off goofy, his crazy-haired costuming not doing him any favours.

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On the floor of some cutting room, somewhere, is a better, longer version of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, which hits all the right notes. Emotional tension, developed relationships, better action… It’s just not this version. When it’s good, it’s good – some of the performances are brilliant, with great ideas and some amazing visuals – but too much exposition and an iffy tone stopped it from being great. But hey; maybe keep an eye out for the eventual extended version.

5/10.

And now, here’s my list of my five favourite films starring the cast of Miss Peregrine’s:

  1. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas – Asa Butterfield
  2. Kingsman: the Secret Service – Samuel L. Jackson
  3. Bridesmaids – Chris O’Dowd
  4. The Help – Alison Janney
  5. Captain America: the Winter Soldier – Samuel L. Jackson

Talk soon,

Jessica x

Photos taken from IMDb.com:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1935859/mediaviewer/rm3488291072
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1935859/mediaviewer/rm3253410048
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1935859/mediaviewer/rm3471513856
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1935859/mediaviewer/rm3018460928

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3 thoughts on “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

  1. Hi Jessica!

    I’ve been looking for well written film reviews and yours hits the home run of my search! It’s informative and long enough to give a good representation of the film. Thank you! I loved your take on this film. I’m also a fan of Tim Burton’s work and Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is on my to watch list, having heard of the book, you see. I truly appreciate reviews by people who are passionate in writing about what they love.

    I was wondering — would you consider permitting The Black Lion Journal to feature you and your reviews from time to time? The point of the journal is to share with others the issues and the topics that we’re most passionate about and I think you will make a great fit for what TBL Journal is all about.

    If you’re worried about copyrights, The Black Lion doesn’t post any articles without express permission. I post all contributor information on the Masthead page along with links to their blogs and social media. Each article also has a contributor’s mini bio or avatar picture showing that they’re the author of the post. I also feature each contributor in a Featured Series where readers can know more about who they are and what they love to do!

    Is this something you would consider? Please let me know either way — yes or no — if you are interested! You can take a peak at the Journal, the Credo, and the Masthead page to learn more about what TBL Journal is all about! theblacklionjournal.wordpress.com

    Thank You again! I hope to hear from you soon!

    Christina

    Like

      1. Hi Jessica!

        Authors are contributors to the journal. Here’s an example post: https://theblacklionjournal.wordpress.com/2016/10/10/murakami-what-i-talk-about-when-i-talk-about-running-the-pleasure-and-sometimes-pain-too-that-can-come-from-being-able-to-run/

        Contributors are given a place on the Masthead — along with the other contributors — under the section that they write for. Each contributor is featured in a Featured Series alongside a mini interview so that readers can know more about who they are and what they like to do (https://theblacklionjournal.wordpress.com/category/featured-series/).

        Posts are selected from the author’s blog according to a schedule. Each post is linked to its original post and to the author’s blog. Some contributors prefer that they choose the posts and/or write exclusively for TBL Journal, and so they email me at least once a month the completed written posts that they want featured — whichever way is most comfortable for you!

        Let me know either way — yes or no — if this is something you might be interested in.

        Christina

        Liked by 1 person

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