When examining his filmography, Director Tim Burton comes across as a very peculiar man. Known for kooky, off-kilter classics such as “Beetlejuice” and “Edward Scissor- hands,” Burton has established himself among the proud ranks of Hollywood’s resident weir- dos.
So it is only appropriate that he be the director to helm the screen adaptation of Ransom Rigg’s bestselling young adult novel “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.” Burton’s take on the story brings the enchanting — and oftentimes dark — world to life in this memorable action-adventure.
The film follows Jacob, a sixteen-year-old who sets out to uncover the mysteries surrounding the strange murder of his eccentric grandfather.
A clue found at the scene of the crime leads Jacob to believe the answers lie within his grandfather’s childhood home, which he described as an orphanage for children with supernatural powers. One girl, he said, was lighter than air and would float away if not weighed down. Another had the ability to bring inanimate objects to life.
After years of writing these stories off as a symptom of his grandfather’s unhinged imagination, Jacob decides to travel to the orphanage in order to finally discover the truth.
Upon his arrival, Jacob stumbles into a journey through time that leads him not only to discover the truth behind his grandfather’s bedtime stories, but also to take his place defending the children in an on-going supernatural battle of life, death and immortality.
Child star Asa Butterfield (“Hugo”, “Ender’s Game”) stars as Jacob. Ella Purnell plays Emma, the girl who’s lighter than air. The two young actors handle their starring roles well, bearing the majority of the film’s two-hour-and-seven-minute running time on their shoulders. Samuel L. Jackson makes a surprising turn as the villainous Barron.
But the standout performance here is given by the up-and-coming Eva Green as Miss Peregrine. Green’s on-screen presence is immediately captivating and magnetic. She effortlessly gains our attention and never lets us go. Green, seemingly floating through each shot in her elegant navy blue ensemble, brings an understated motherly warmth to the character giving a feeling of intimacy to the film while simultaneously humanizing an otherwise larger-than-life persona.
In fact, one of my few gripes with the film is that the titular caretaker is absent for almost the entirety of the humdrum, by-the-numbers third act. As a result, Green’s performance — one of the film’s best features — feels criminally underutilized.
However, the film works to make up for it’s narrative failings with a slew of whimsical and captivating visual effects. Burton is truly a master of world building, and Miss Peregrine’s fascinatingly peculiar world is no exception.
But be forewarned, “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” might be a bit too peculiar for some, especially young children. The film is filled with several disturbing images, including corpses with missing eyes and some rather disturbing malformed monsters.
The film feels like a children’s film at heart, packed with whimsy, adventure and an epic battle between good and evil. However, Burton can’t seem to shy away from his weird and peculiar instincts long enough to make the PG-13 feature suitable for young children.
As a result, “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” is a memorable journey, and one worth taking, if you can handle some of the film’s more peculiar moments.