Tim Burton has always been known as a quirky director. A mainstream visionary that utilises peculiar imagery in a manner which has delivered aesthetically pleasing showpieces of strange. It is with this in mind that his latest film is perhaps his most suited.
Based loosely on the novel of the same name by American author Ransom Riggs – which in turn can be seen as an novelisation of a Burton-esc film – “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” is for the most part a worthwhile adaptation of an interesting narrative.
Jake (Asa Butterfield) is a boy who has grown up with stories of peculiar people from his adventurous grandfather (Terrence Stamp). Little does he know that these stories are in fact tales of truth, with his grandfather having stayed at the titular home for peculiar children during his war torn youth. Run by the intriguingly mystical Miss Peregrine (Eva Green building upon her great working relationship with Burton), the home shelters the inhabitants from Hollows – dangerous monsters who hunt and eat peculiars.
When his grandfather is struck down in his garden, Jake and his dad (Chris O’Dowd) travel to the welsh island where the home is situated. Finding time travel elements, and the home in two different states, Jake is soon brought into the conflict with the evil Barron (portrayed with witty humour by Samuel L Jackson), learning a family connection to the past.
The first two thirds of this movie follow the books plot effectively, however they do appear to be rushed so as to get the principle characters together sooner. This means that elements are completely forgotten and characters are lost or adapted. The final third however feels completely disjointed from whats come before. With obvious steps to close character arcs the film carries an odd feel finale, with studio interference the most likely culprit of the narrative change. With characters carrying audience engrossment throughout, the nature of how it ends is disappointing and pushes the film into being simply average.
Although the film should be seen as a poor adaptation at its close, the acting on show is strong throughout. Ella Purnell (Emma) is a perfect foil to Asa Butterfield’s Jake, holding chemistry with the young actor in the shared scenes together – which transpires across to the audience easily . This alongside the stand out portrayals by Eva Green and Samuel L Jackson present the convoluted and rushed narrative to the audience well, easily becoming the films best attribute.
Homaging Harryhausen with stop motion sequences, the film delivers an interesting aesthetic with true Burton moments. The director has also showcased his typical style in the design of the films antagonists, which appear both cruel and humorous – a design choice that allows their moments in the narrative to stand out from the films overcrowded supporting sequences.
“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” is a worthwhile watch for the majority of its duration – especially when it follows the original source material closely. In a bid to close all character loose ends in its final third however, the narratives ending leaves the film wanting much more come its close. This complete shift in the narrative structure, leads to a disjointed and somewhat disappointing revelation within the film, and one that detracts majorly from the visionary work that has come before.
With the messy ending it carries, and the fact that elements adapted will disappoint the readership, the film is pushed from great to disappointing very quickly. Burton struggles to deliver upon his unique vision for this universe, instead having to settle upon an average production at its release.
Plot – 3
Acting – 3
Direction – 3
Effects – 4
Retrospect – 2