Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Out Now On-Demand
Tim Burton adapts the bestselling novel by Ransom Riggs about a seemingly ordinary boy (Asa Butterfield, Ender's Game) who comes across a home for unusually gifted children, ran by the enigmatic Miss Peregrine (Eva Green, Dark Shadows). Co-stars Samuel L. Jackson, Chris O'Dowd (The Program), Terence Stamp and Judi Dench.
Jacob "Jake" Plowman (Butterfield) grew up hearing fantastic tales from his grandfather Abe (Stamp) about children gifted with an array of powers. All dismissed by Jake's parents, of course... After Abe's sudden death, they send Jake to therapy to deal with the tragedy and the strange events surrounding it. When he eventually travels to the setting of Abe's tales, Jake finds more truth in his grandfather's stories than he ever expected, finding his way to Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, and meeting those that live there - kids who can control fire, air, or have unique physical powers. But with this exciting discovery comes a danger to Jake and his new friends in the terrifying form of Mr. Barron (Jackson), leader of monstrous scientists with a particular appetite that only peculiar kids can satisfy.
- Jane Goldman (based on the novel by Ransom Riggs)
Rating: M Violence and scary scenes
An old-timey children’s home populated by odd inhabitants feels so much up Tim Burton’s alley it comes as a surprise that his latest opens with something we’ve barely ever seen from him before - a stock-standard, contemporary, everyday setting. Scenes in a psychiatrist’s office, where Jake (Asa Butterfield) finds himself being helped by Alison Janney in dealing with his grandad’s unusual demise, are so un-Burton that it’s almost jarring. After recent, risible, efforts, this isn’t exactly unwelcome.
Before long, though, weirdness begins to creep in - a touch of time travel here, an invisible boy there, and Burton’s current brunette muse Eva Green present and correct as the titular Miss Peregrine. But, for a change, Burton’s not necessarily on board to dazzle one with his imagination. Having hit his box office peak at the start of the decade with Alice in Wonderland, he’s sensibly seen as a safe pair of hands to juggle abnormal abilities, a core of young characters, monstrous adversaries, plenty of CGI and a supporting cast heavily weighted to impress grown ups (Terence Stamp, Judi Dench, Chris O’Dowd, the aforementioned Janney and Samuel L. Jackson - more on him in a sec). Yes, Hollywood seems to be searching for a new Harry Potter franchise…
Burton fans may be surprised his visual aesthetic is dialled down here, but that’s required by the vivid visual world of the source material. The director generally sees fit to keep the various parts moving with unremarkable coherence, though his glee for scary imagery and borderline gore shines through - as does his seeming insistence for an always-entertaining Jackson to chew as much scenery as possible through a mouth full of prosthetic fangs.
Suffering slight series-itis in how it sets up successive films, this is a watchable effort that may not live up to its potential of Burton chucking Potter, X-Men and Big Fish in a blender, but is tons better than the worst-case version of that same scenario.
Time Out London
New York Times
The Australian (David Stratton)
NZ Herald (Francesca Rudkin)
A magical world of fantasy beneath which lies dark history of human atrocity
Fantasy films work through a kind of free association logic where you join the metaphorical dots to create the story you want to see. They do not follow standard cinematic logic, like causation or narrative coherence, and younger and older minds can take away vastly different stories from the same film. This is fortunate in the case of Miss Peregrines School for Peculiar Children (2016), as audiences of all ages can enjoy a wonderful, magical and intriguing world of fantasy without the burden of actually seeing the dark and heavy hand of history that overarches this film.
The story of Miss Peregrines turns on a life-changing event for young Jake (Asa Butterfield) whose beloved grandfather dies in strange circumstances. Jake was raised on stories about an orphanage full of fantastically peculiar children and he embarks on an odyssey to find the truth. Guided by his grandfather's dying words, he finds a gateway to another time and place full of children with special gifts under the guardianship of Miss Peregrine. The orphanage appeared to be demolished by World War II bombers but its headmistress Miss Peregrine reversed the passage of time an instant before a Swastika-labelled bomb struck. An endlessly repeating time loop keeps them frozen in history but not safe from the forces of darkness that would destroy the peculiars.
Jake discovers he has a special power that is needed to protect the peculiars: he can see enemies that are invisible to others. Torn between choosing past and future worlds, Jake navigates a journey that is rich in sub-plots and incidents, all woven together with shifting timeframes, Gothic mystery and deadly intrigue. The youthful cast give solid performances, although the acting benchmark for fantasy films is not high. The hyper-realistic 3D rendition is colourfully immersive and the action is fast-paced and engaging. Even the most serious-minded adults can enjoy this film.
Like in all creative art-forms, what you see depends on where you look. With the passage of time, history storytellers can no longer use conventional tropes to preserve the memories of humanity’s dark past, especially for younger generations for whom some parts of history are simply beyond belief. The deeper current running through this film is about real atrocities committed upon real people in order to preserve the genetic purity of a master race. The 'time loop' and the use of vintage photographs are figurative devices pleading for these memories to be kept alive, and the lovable peculiar children are a means for engaging young audiences to cherish and not reject others just because they appear different.
Seen this at the Movies - What a breath of Fresh Air - Cute Story line. Kept interested from start to finish,would watch again for shore
Despite the main characters rather flat acting and lack of expression on his face, this was an enjoyable movie. Reminded me of Jason and the Argonauts at the pier. The ending was rushed - seems to be a fad at the moment - with the main character explaining how he got back to his beau. Just lacking that Titanic moment on the bow.
Escapism indeed it was. Good plot line, great cinematography and scenery.
I had been really looking forward to this after seeing the trailer months ago. However I found the acting of the main boy and his grandfather sub par. The beginning of the movie was slow, the relationship between the boy & his parents seems like it should have been more explained. I don't know I was just expecting a lot more.
I did enjoy this and it had an intriguing concept. I took two teenage boys to see it and one of them loved it and the other was disappointed with the ending. The ending did seem a little flat and I am not sure why - I think it was an emotional response as it seemed like the correct ending, but just didn't satisfy- hard to define. The boys also found some things a little scary in it - so they thought that it wouldn't be suitable for kids younger than them (13 & 14). the acting was mostly very good and you did get to know the characters reasonably well.