Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a perfect demonstration of Tim Burton’s latest work. The universe is fascinating but there are flaws to the film that cannot be forgiven so easily. The glorious days of Beetlejuice and Sleepy Hollow are long-gone, but this is a film you will find enjoyable, so at least that’s an improvement from Alice Through the Looking Glass (which Burton had produced earlier this year).
The story follows Jacob (Asa Butterfield) who’s an “ordinary” teenager; he doesn’t have any friends and works a boring part-time job. One night, his grandpa Abe (Terence Stamp), who he looks after, calls Jake at work to tell him not to come home tonight as “they” have come for him. Thinking his grandfather is simply suffering from dementia, as his Dad has often mentioned, Jake decides to go back home to find the house has been raided and that Abe is dead in the yard, his eyes removed from their sockets. In the distance, there’s a monster with long tentacles fleeing, a monster which his co-worker who drove him home cannot see. Jake seems to recall his grandfather telling him stories about such monsters, following the tales of this odd home where he stayed with peculiar children when he was younger.
The death of his grandfather weighs heavily on him and his parents make Jake seek therapy. He soon comes to realize that his grief could be healed if he went to visit that home where Miss Peregrine gave shelter to grandpa Abe, a long time ago. His Dad accepts to go with him on that trip and they both head to the sheltered island where mysteries are waiting… Jake needs to know if the stories were real or not, was his grandfather insane or did he truly live with peculiar children?
As always, Burton finds ways to create a wondrous universe. His characters are quirky and have interesting powers, and that’s probably the strongest characteristic of the movie. If you take out the eerie world out of the equation, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children becomes yet another movie with quite a few plot holes. Burton’s capability of building beautiful stories on-screen is impressive but he’s slightly missing the mark. This movie is not pushing any boundaries and it’s disappointing. He could have gone further than creating a cheesy, “we know good will prevail”, film filled with skinny white actors (minus the villain played by Samuel L. Jackson). In 2016, there are literally no more excuses that can be made for such a casting.
I do have to say that Eva Green was absolutely brilliant as Miss Peregrine and she brought a much needed depth of emotion to the movie. Her scenes were the most touching and honest. Asa Butterfield’s performance lacked vulnerability and he seemed quite stiff compared to other movies I’ve seen him in, which is a little unforgiving when you are the hero of the movie. All in all, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is okay. Don’t expect a great Burton-film out of this one, it’s enjoyable but nothing special, sadly.