Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children | Review

“Hello Mr Burton, it’s Mr Big Wig from Fox here, how would you feel about making a Harry Potter meets X-Men movie for us with your slant of peculiarity?” “And sold'” says Tim Burton who then goes on to direct the film MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN (thank god for copy and paste – typing that title is an RSI nightmare). Big thanks to Corey at 20th Century Fox for sending me an invite to attend this one. MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN releases tomorrow, Thursday 29th in Australia. It is rated M and runs for 127mins. 

BY JASON KING

MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN SYNOPSIS:

MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN is based on the novel from Ransom Riggs and is a very Burtonesque story. Jake has grown up being told stories from his peculiar grandfather. Stories of monsters and even more peculiar children at an orphanage (of sorts). When Jake’s grandfather is killed under very macabre circumstances Jake and his father visit an island where the orphanage is supposed to be located. It is here where Jake meets Miss Peregrine and the children of the orphanage who live in a time-loop where no one else can find them. Jake can enter and visits them multiple times on the same day in 1943.

An evil man, Barron, and his cronies discovered a way to live forever. A side effect of the eternal life turned them into monsters however they can regain their human form by eating the eyes of peculiar children. They are forever on the hunt for more time bubbles containing peculiar children.

Jake will fight for the defence of the children regardless of how horrendous his aim is.

 

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children | Asa Butterfield Character Poster image

 

TIM BURTON:

Tim Burton has made another odd film, an enjoyable film that falls short. It contains his trademark weirdness and a unique universe you just want to journey to but it plays it too safe and stuffs way to much into the runtime. As a pending future franchise that would love Harry Potter-like box-office returns MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN needed a Chris Columbus styled opening film. A film with all the detail and all the development that introduced everyone to this wonderful world.

Oddly for a Burton movie it was missing three huge components. I am quite happy it was missing both Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter but the film truly needed its Danny Elfman. We all need a break from Depp, like 10yrs please. Having Eva Green in the place that would usually scream Bonham Carter was a refreshing change but to be honest, and I loathe saying this, Green and her character just didn’t do it for me. I actually think Bonham Carter would have been better.

As for Elfman he has been off expanding his horizons and making movie after movie. In the last year alone – 50 SHADES OF GREY, END OF THE TOUR, GOOSEBUMPS, AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON. I am guessing there was scheduling conflicts in making MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN. Instead Burton went with Matthew Margetson (KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE, EDDIE THE EAGLE) and Michael Higham (music editor on a lot of Burton films).

BOOK COMPARISONS:

There are a few changes from the book that may leave a few people miffed if they have read the book first.

  • The two lead female peculiar children have swapped powers. In the book, Emma’s peculiarity was fire and Olive’s was air. In the movie, their peculiarity is reversed. The original peculiarities should have stayed the same because in later books, Emma’s original peculiarity (fire) comes in much more need than wind.
  • Dr Golan is a man in the book but one awesome lady in the movie – lovely seeing Allison Janney on-screen.
  • Barron is not in the book the movie is based on.

 

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Olive Abroholos Elephanta (Lauren McCrostie) Character Poster image

 

THE ACTORS:

Firstly MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN stars two of my favourite actors. I have loved everything Asa Butterworth has ever done, he has to be one of the greatest younger actors of all time. His transition from child actor to teen actor is impressive and he will become one of the greats. Asa is his usual awesome onscreen. The only notable oddity was his love interest with Emma Bloom (Ella Purnell). It just didn’t seem to work, she seemed older, more the dating type, and he did not.

And then there is Eva, I love Eva, I worship Eva but this just didn’t work for me. Unsure if it was the character and Eva portraying her as a bird but she appeared to overact. While Miss Alma LeFay Peregrine comes across as a dark, mysterious, wondrous force to be reckoned with, the character is anything but.

However one of the redeeming qualities and winners of the film is the peculiar children. There are too many to go into individually but they are all charming and funny and incredibly endearing. It was a shame the film moved too quickly to develop them all.

One character that truly does rock the film is Barron. Samuel L Jackson has a lot of fun with his character and it is one of his best roles in recent years. He is just enough evil and just enough comic to scare and make children laugh while viewing.

SMALLER ROLES:

There is also a few characters with smaller roles that don’t appear in the trailer and really do need a mention. Dame Judy Dench for one – the film needed more of her, I hope there is a sequel and I hope she steps to the plate. She would have suited the Miss Peregrine character better. Chris O’Dowd as Jake’s father, he suited the “off in another world father.” Terence (I have missed you) Stamp as Jake’s grandfather – love the man, he can do no wrong. And standing applause to Rupert Everett who basically stole every scene he was in.

 

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Barron (Samuel L. Jackson) Character Poster image

 

WHAT DOESN’T WORK:

A couple of things just didn’t work. As mentioned earlier Eva Green was one of them. Another was one scene when Jake comes to the home. Olive makes a pot of tea for Jake and Miss Peregrine using her fire ability and pours cups for them both. Miss P suggests they have the tea in the garden and hurriedly picks her tea cup up. It was clearly an empty cup and 99% of the audience won’t even notice but it bugged the shit out of me.

The other thing that bothered me was the explanations of time and getting to the new bubble etc etc. It just didn’t make sense, or it didn’t make sense to me, I just agreed, nodded and went along for the ride.

And finally Jake’s weakness through most of the movie didn’t work but all of a sudden he has a grand plan to raise a ship from the dead, steer it across an ocean and save the day. I know it is probably related to his character development in the book but it didn’t translate well to the screen. Besides I know Jake aka Ender Wiggin is a hero so I wanted to see it.

 

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Emma Bloom (Ella Purnell) Character Poster image

 

WHAT DOES WORK:

The visuals in the film are just stunning – they are incredibly cool and well suited to a cinema screen. The 3D was passable but not necessary. It could have taken better advantage of the format. The other thing that works is the story itself. It is a good story but came across as more than the one book crammed into a two hour run time. I am keen to read them now to see what happens.

Asa Butterfield also works – I will watch anything he is in. And as said before, the winning factor of the film is the children. It was like THE SOUND OF MUSIC kids on acid at a Halloween party. I just wished we got more of them.

IN CONCLUSION:

Harry Potter it is not but a good fun holiday movie for the kids. Filled with fantasy, signature Tim Burton and epic visuals this is one to see these holidays. Some scary scenes and monster for younger kids but worth it for the peculiar kids.

 

3 Pops

 

 

YOUR REVIEWER:

 owns, writes and edits Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the Australian movie industry for 25yrs. Furthermore he loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.