83%Overall Score
Reader Rating: (2 Votes)
66%

Be prepared to embark on a peculiar adventure that doesn’t quite meet expectations, but that is still magical.

When I first read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children a few years ago, I had no doubt in my mind that Tim Burton needed to adapt this story into a film. So the news of Burton picking it up had me over the moon. Having been excited for this film before it was even announced, I went into the theater with pretty high expectations. As much as I enjoyed the film and loved seeing this strange world come to life, I couldn’t help but wish that some parts were different.

Jacob is a teenager who is having a hard time dealing with his grandfather’s death, so he convinces his dad to take him to Wales. There he believes he can learn more about a place that his grandfather, Abe, talked about often and could possibly get some closure. However, the stories that he told Jacob were strange and bizarre, unlike your typical bedtime fairy tales. Abe talked about Miss Peregrine’s orphanage where children with special powers were hiding from big monsters. When Jacob finds himself in the loop where they lived, unseen by the modern world, he becomes their protector when some monsters become aware of their location.

The world that Tim Burton painted for this film had some of the same likeness in his film Edward Scissorhands. Vibrant colors paired well with the gothic style of the world and characters, providing a balance of airy and eerie. Heck, there were even shrubs shaped like dinosaurs in the garden. Burton really captured the true core of the style of the novel and did a fantastic job bringing everything to life. The only flaw in his direction is that the last quarter of the movie seemed over the top and slightly disconnected. The movie ends differently than the book, therefore making it confusing if a second film is even in the works. I don’t mind that the ending was changed (although I think he should have stayed truer to the story) but it became harder to follow along with. There seemed to be too much packed into a little amount of time, so I can only imagine what people who hadn’t read the books thought.

One of my favorite parts about this film was how well the cinematography captured the peculiar world. As Director of Photography, Bruno Delbonnel had an incredible canvas and quirky subjects working in his favor. He really knew how to enhance a scene with the composition and lighting that highlighted different aspects of a peculiar child or the house they lived in. One of the strongest visuals I’ve seen in a film is an underwater scene with Emma and Jacob, which can be briefly seen in the trailer. The colors were beautifully subdued and moody at the right times, while at other times were vibrant and cheerful.

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Miss Peregrine is strong, admirable, and eccentric – and Eva Green couldn’t have been a more perfect match. Green captured the true essence of Miss Peregrine in the closest way I’d ever had imagined her to be while reading the book. The casting department outdid themselves because there wasn’t one character that I didn’t believe in. Ella Purnell as Emma Bloom, the girl whose peculiarity is air, was also a fantastic cast. Emma’s powers in the book were changed for the film, so it was hard to get on board with this change. However it lent itself to be useful and added a breathtaking visual element. The main characters we follow with are Jacob (Asa Butterfield) and Emma while the rest of the children are only side characters. It isn’t until books two and three that we delve into their characters more. The film did a good job of highlighting each child, without having to fully explain their history. Nor did I think it needed to.

As I mentioned before, there were a few pockets of the film that I wished were different. The first part is that I feel like the film lingered between a ‘for children’ and ‘for adults’ stage. As whimsical as this film is and with the young cast, it appears as a film that families can watch together. However, with the nature of the context and style of Burton, I could hear a few younger kids in the theater getting scared at some of the scenes with monsters, specifically one where they eat a platter of eyeballs. I’m a big sucker for dark folklore, teetering between murky storytelling with a glimpse of innocence, but this movie is hard to read on who it exactly caters to. The next part that I wished was different was the entire ending. There was a fight scene between the children and the monsters that was jam-packed and almost distracting. The first three quarters of the movie held a nice slow build-up of character development and story, so I felt like the audience was thrown into the ending because they were running out of time in filming and needed to get a lot of ground covered.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will take you on fantastical adventure that allows you to use your imagination. Not only does it provide you with a world to escape in, it will teach you the importance of valuing the people close to you in your life. I do suggest watching this movie if you are a fan of fantasy, imagination, and Tim Burton. Just know that it’s not the absolute best that it could have been and the potential fell short. However, it’s a great watch and you’re sure to be entertained. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children inspires us to embrace our own peculiarities and to stay true to ourselves, all while fighting for what we believe in.

 

Directed By: Tim Burton

Produced By: Peter Chernin and Jenno Topping

Written By: Drew Goddard

Starring: Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Samuel L. Jackson, Chris O’Dowd, Ella Purnell

Distribution Company: 20th Century Fox Films

Release Date: September 30, 2016

Run Time: 127 minutes

Rating: PG-13

 

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