Miss Peregrines Home For Peculiar Children review: mordant British YA X-Men is Tim Burton’s best in 20 years | Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children | The Guardian
Moviegoers have endured such a harsh onslaught of young adult adaptations that it’s enough to make you want to sulk and dream of escaping to some kind of fantasy realm. Remember, if you can, recent flops like The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, Maze Runner: The Scorching Trials, or, help us rowling, that second Twilight movie, before they caught on and added a bit of intentional camping. Survivors of this cinematic monotony (and there should be support groups) have been wondering what would happen if you took one of these matters entirely by the numbers and hired a director who has at least a little flair. With Tim Burton behind the camera and ever-shrewd screenwriter Jane Goldman keeping him on track, we’ve got our answer in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
the source material is a huge elevator pitch: x-men dressed up as brit, grim and goth. (if lydia deetz from winona ryder from beetlejuice had read comics when she was 13, they would have been something like this). joy of seeing wacky magical powers mixed with the familiarity of how a time loop unfolds. Add Burton’s signature visual signature and what we have is an extremely pleasing formula. becomes Tim Burton’s best live-action (non-musical) movie in 20 years.
That’s a lot of modifiers for a compliment, but I want to manage expectations. The plot is extremely predictable and the third act action sets, even with a loving tribute to Ray Harryhausen, seem to go on forever. Asa Butterfield is pretty good as Jake, a nervous daydreamer whose voice couldn’t go any lower if he were in his shoes. Out of place in tacky palm-dotted Florida (Burton’s aesthetic has always been mixed camp pink flamingos with Hammer movie castles) Jake follows the maps left behind by his late grandfather Abe (Terence Stamp), a Polish refugee. who spent the war at the address referred to in the film’s title.
Directed by pipe-smoking Eva Green who looks like she just heard a joke she’s not supposed to share, the home (on a small island off the coast of Wales) is a safe haven for children with uncanny abilities. some are more standard superheroes than others: would you like to have the ability to be invisible or manipulate air, or would you like to have bees living in your mouth or the ability to grow tubers at tremendous speed? Jake, with her father (the ever wonderful Chris O’dowd) visit the island at the suggestion of Jake’s therapist (Allison Janney) and it is there that she is able to enter Miss Peregrine’s hidden time loop.
Some of the rules of the movie are definitely “I’m not going to put too much mental energy into making sure everything works out,” but I will say there are some innovative uses of time travel. less interesting is the motivation of the bad guys -yes, there are bad guys- who want to kill miss peregrine for some reason. the creatures, all tentacles and teeth, look tremendous and samuel l jackson, perhaps on a dare from christopher walken, bites into the landscape in glorious fashion. it’s unfortunate in 2016 that the only person of color is the bad guy, but at least this is the kind of bad guy the movie doesn’t secretly encourage. he eats a giant bowl of children’s eyes, in tim burton’s world, that pretty much makes him a hero.
There are additional books in the series, but I hope they never make it to the movies. This movie ends on a lovely note (it’s about time Tim Burton visited a pier in Blackpool) and the kids are at the age where this won’t seem so cute two years from now. furthermore, the important themes, one of sanctuary and growth, are very well (but not too much) developed in this unique entry. Not every movie needs to become a franchise, sometimes it’s better to let things live in their own isolated world.
- miss peregrine’s home for peculiar children opens september 30th