Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children has flashes of Burton’s ghoulish tricks, but its mediocre YA themed story prevents it from becoming the peculiar tale it aspires to be.
When Jake (Asa Butterfield) discovers clues to a mystery that spans alternate realities and times, he uncovers a secret refuge known as Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As he learns about the residents and their unusual abilities, Jake realizes that safety is an illusion, and danger lurks in the form of powerful, hidden enemies. Jake must figure out who is real, who can be trusted, and who he really is. [20th Century Fox]
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is the right type of film for Burton to make us forget about the overhyped Big Eyes and cash grab that is Alice in Wonderland. The premise – even though it sounds like a Gothic X-men – is a toy box of horrors that he can play with.
The movie features flashes of the director’s dark whimsical inventiveness. Changes from the book created menacing – albeit Slenderman-looking – Hollowgasts whose diet of choice make them more creepier than they were in the book. This results to haunting images of victims that you would expect from Burton. Ms. Peregrine’s quaint orphanage, which is stuck in a time loop in the 1940’s, looks charming.
Eva Green, who could be the new replacement for Helen Bonham Carter, is perfectly casted as the enigmatic headmistress. The rest of the cast also did well even though they have little to do as they become props around Jake. Samuel L. Jackson delivers a typecasted performance but it’s decent enough.
Unfortunately these potential elements gets wasted as the movie turns into a mediocre blockbuster aimed directly at the younger demographic.
Instead of exploring the world of the peculiar children, the plot revolves around a cliched self-actualization of a boy that comes with all the YA tropes – the family mythology, boy meets girl romance, and a caricature nemesis. It’s not exactly Asa Butterfield’s fault. Jake sticks out like plain furniture in a room filled with interesting curios.
It doesn’t help that the plot has bad pacing. It starts slow and rushes towards the end, becoming less interesting and more generic by the third act with a stereotypical Battle Royale complete with the doppelganger scene. You get a glimpse of the children’s abilities in action, but they’re too little to late. After all, this is really about Jake getting the girl with big doe eyes, which Burton seems to be obsessed with lately.
In the end, what you get is an interesting idea turned into blockbuster fodder. Whatever peculiarity that the movie shows is just a thin veneer to a typical narrative underneath. It’s forgettable, but as long as you keep your expectations low from the movie and Tim Burton, it’s enjoyable enough as a distraction.
My Rating: 6/10