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By Richard von Busack September 30, 2016
Ever since 1989's Batman, Tim Burton has been called a director more interested in visuals and ambience than plot. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children doesn't free him of the charge. The young adult novel plot schematics really show through the tremendous invention, enchantment and incomparably strange humor that only Burton can weave.
When the adolescent Jake (the Bud Cort-ish Asa Butterfield) was a boy, his grandfather Abe (Terence Stamp) told him bedtime stories of an island off the coast of Wales. There, during WWII, Abe stayed at a boarding house with mutant children under the care of one Miss Peregrine (Eva Green)—a Victorian beauty with Cleopatra eyes, blue-black hair, and a dark gown with puffy slashed sleeves.
Miss Peregrine and other women with her special talents—they're called "Ymbrynes"—create time loops to hide themselves and their charges from persecutors. Miss Peregrine's chosen date is Sept. 3, 1943, right before a Luftwaffe bomb destroyed the brick Gothic building they inhabit. With the help of a magic watch and a macabre 78 rpm record (Flanagan and Allen's 1939 "Run Rabbit")—Miss Peregrine rewinds time and gives her odd foster children another fine day to survive.
Discovering this little time bubble, Abe is accepted as one of the children. Almost immediately he falls for the lighter-than-air, 16-year-old Emma (Ella Purnell). From Emma and Miss Peregrine, Jake learns of villains called "wights," led by a man named Barron (Samuel L. Jackson). Barron and his "hollowgasts"—eyeless spidery monsters, invisible to all but the likes of Jake—consume the eyes of children. We see the devils gathered around their feast, fresh eyeballs stacked on a fancy cake platter as if they were petits fours. The grossness is satisfying; it's like a wild tale heard on a school playground.
One of Miss Peregrine's children has an interesting talent: with the help of a special monocle, he can beam a visual representation of his dreams like a movie projector. It's a striking, delightful image if you don't think about it too hard.
Miss Peregrine has all the allegorical thickness one expects from a YA story: what are the eyeball-snatching monsters doing, if not defiling the pure vision of children? Here, as always, the grown-ups are the problem. They're real mudbloods about kid-raising. They're wet blankets. Jake's mother, played by Kim Dickens—the shrewd detective in Gone Girl—vanishes from the picture. Jake's father (Chris O'Dowd, with a fine American accent) is a slouch. He has dreams of writing a book about birds, and he justifies the father-son trip to Wales as a chance to do some research. But all his character does is put the brakes on the action until you tire of seeing O'Dowd in a new scene.
When the wights close in, the movie starts to gain some speed. Ever since he co-starred alongside John Cusack in 1408, Jackson has demonstrated a desire to be Vincent Price. Tim Burton is just the director to honor Jackson's wish. He's a real fright here: white bulging eyeballs with pin-prick irises, bristling white hair, and a mouth full of fangs. Jackson isn't over the top—in his presence, the top bows with respect.
The sources for some of Burton's ideas are clear—an homage to Czech puppeteer Jan Svankmajer, an invasion by Ray Harryhausen's skeleton warriors, the paint-daubed Id monster from Forbidden Planet, the pub-smashing scene in The Invisible Man. Yet there's material that's all Burton—a time-shifting finale set against a Ghost Train on a Blackpool wharf; Olive (Lauren McCrostie), a fire-starter, brings a row of dead furnaces blazing to life with the stroke of her hand. Emma uses her own skills to revive a drowned ocean liner, which sank so quickly that the skeletons of the passengers are still sitting calmly at their dinner tables. As for Green, if she's physically stiff—perhaps corseted—she wears the role of this sorceress with the authority of a superhero wearing a cape. The fantasy is delirious, even if the blueprint for it is so worn you can practically see daylight through it.
By Gimly January 28, 2017
_Miss Peregrine's_ could have done with a little more peculiarity. I understand that the lead is our door into this fantastical world, but a character can be relatable without being downright boring. Not an outright bad movie, but certainly not the one to put Tim Burton back on track.
Eva Green is golden but under-utilised, Sam Jackson can barely talk through his fake teeth, the creature designs are fantastic but pulled off with some very poor CGI. There is a little stop-motion to counter this, but again, it's not used to the degree it should have been. Which is really an apt description for the whole thing. Over an over, _Miss Peregrine's_ hints at a great movie buried somewhere within it, but what we end up with is an ill-paced mess. The only truly engaging character momets of the whole story are dropped as soon as they crop up in favour of the "Good VS Evil" rhetoric you've seen a million times before.
_Final rating:★★½ - Had a lot that appealed to me, didn’t quite work as a whole._
By Frank Ochieng January 28, 2017
Well one certainly cannot accuse filmmaker Tim Burton from straying away from his trademark bizarre movie-making playbook. Perhaps Burton’s best asset when it comes to his brand of distinctive cinema is to faithfully maintain that solid sense of oddness in the manner for which he presents his randomly spry, off-kilter narratives? There was always this consistent understanding that Burton enthusiastically embraces the whimsical peculiarities of his colorful, cockeyed characterizations. Naturally, the eccentric Burton would be drawn to yet another off-balance project that is right up his weirdly imaginative alley. Hence, in **Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children** the notoriously quirky director is true to form as he presents another delightfully macabre and freakish showcase that will definitely appeal to the darkened nature of the kiddie crowd.
**Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children** is the big screen adaptation of Ranson Rigg’s popular young adults trilogy. The film is an instant magnet for Burton’s off-the-cuff style and standard of warped whimsy. The Sci-Fi enhanced children’s fantasy is highlighted effectively by visually arousing set decorations, breath-taking CGI special effects, eye-popping costumes and an overall wonderment of interestingly deformed yet capable super-powered youngsters with unusual gifts that define their unique identities. Screenwriter Jane Goldman (“Stardust”) dutifully captures the misguided magic of Rigg’s best-selling novel brought to life that is very reminiscent of an atmospheric _Harry Potter-esque_ universe where one can easily detect that stimulating Hogswarts vibe bursting at the seams. The only viable knock on **Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children** is that Burton has explored this twisted territory before thus giving the familiar illusion that he is making the same movie over again but with some updated dressing. Still, the surreal stamp of Burton’s animated movie mindset is enough to recommend the erratically conceived **Miss Peregrine’s** as a frolicking fun-filled fable riddled with perky-minded naughtiness.
The construction of **Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children** is a strange brew that brings together the assembled working parts of a previous Burton Gothic-looking spectacle with similar elements meshed in the movie-related mechanics of such ditties including Mary Poppins, the aforementioned _Harry Potter_ film franchise, _Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory_ with a touch of a junior-sized _X-Men_ sentiment attached to the proceedings. Basically, Burton encourages his kooky kind of whirlwind escapism where he wants to transport the audience into a hazy maze of unstable, creepy hedonism embedded in indescribable gaudy chaos. It is no secret that Burton looks to incorporate his known ingredients of strangeness, endearment, gentle terror and slight wackiness. The majestic concoction, for the most part, works on the welcomed senses.
In the title role of **Miss Peregrine** is the fetching Penny Dreadful star Eva Green (one of Burton’s featured actresses from his 2012 film “Dark Shadows”). The nostalgic backstory of Miss P. and her mixture of rejected orphans is recalled in detail by a Florida-based retiree named Abe Portman (Terrance Stamp) who revels in enlightening his teenage grandson Jake (Asa Butterfield) about the remarkable wonder woman and her special orphanage stationed on a Welsh island. Clearly, Jake thinks highly of his grandfather’s fascinating vintage storytelling but feels like an outsider especially when his own parents think that he is in need of serious counseling. When Jake is not engaged in Abe’s recollections of his old pals from Miss Penegrine’s orphanage (complete with handy black-and-white photographs for proof of his proclamations) he works at the local supermarket in uneventful fashion.
As legend has it poor Miss Penegrine’s Victorian orphanage located on the island of Cairnholm was demolished by Nazi bombs that rendered her and the kids vulnerable during World War II. However, we are also informed of the supernatural tendencies of the resilient lady and her “peculiar children”. For one, Miss Penegrine can turn herself into a…wait for it…penegrine falcon at a moment’s notice. As for the bird beauty’s charges they too possess noteworthy specialties in appearances and spellbinding prowess as well although not as accepting as Miss P’s accentuated tricks.
Jake had always viewed his grandfather’s accounts of Miss Penegrine and her peculiar children in question as a compelling revelation especially when he was younger. Jake, courtesy of his indifferent folks, saddle him as the caretaker for the ailing Abe. However, when he uncovers his dementia-ridden, dying grandpa Abe babbling endlessly about monsters and everything connected to the Miss Peregrine universe this sparks an immense curiosity about Jake wanting to further explore Abe’s whispered claims of seemingly exaggerations. Jake is convinced that Abe was murdered–no doubt by the so-called monsters–and wants to further the cause by visiting the mysterious European island that planted so many adventurous memories in his grandfather’s childhood back in the early wartime forties. Additionally, the concept of time bubbles known as “loops” figure into the suspense. The loops are a designed invention by Miss Penegrine to keep her endangered wards safe from the period’s on-going harm.
Since Jake is already in therapy and everyone thinks that the troubled kid has a screw loose in the aftermath of the trauma regarding his deceased beloved grandpa Abe it is suggested that maybe a visit to the Welsh island would put to rest the inner conflict within the young man. So Jake’s father Franklin (Chris O’Dowd) accompanies his son to Cairnholm where he can sort out his lingering angst. Can Jake successfully locate his grandfather’s old-time orphanage and come to his own elusive conclusions? Soon, the modern-day Jake will experience his own time-traveling warp where he will at firsthand encounter the captivating kids that were included in youthful Abe’s existence including the lovely Emma (Ella Punell) that strikes his fancy–the same gal that his grandfather crushed on back in his heyday.
**Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children** is a jumbled gem that does not quite separate its eerie realm from other Burton-oriented fare that shares the same branding of visual makeup found in entries such as _Beetlejuice_, _Edward Scissorhands_ or _Dark Shadows_. Nevertheless, **Miss Pelegrine’s** is stunning although the half-baked plot bounces aimlessly at will. When Jake is transported back to 1943 and witnesses the peculiar-looking children we are truly in awe of Burton’s tangy taste for the cartoonish craziness. Children that are cursed (or blessed) with head-scratching anomalies not to mention the haunting images of Hollowgast monsters and Green’s fetching but crafty spellbound diva in Miss P all establishes an intriguing off-balance children’s Sci-Fi fantasy that hits more than it misses its nightmarish target.
Burton assembles some notable names that fill the circus ring surroundings in **Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children**. The explosive Samuel L. Jackson is on board as the villainous Barron looking to feast upon the peculiar kiddies’ eyeballs. Veteran performer Stamp is convincing as the aging Abe whose descriptions of his 40’s-era childhood inspires Butterfield’s Jake to make this disjointed journey into Burton’s devilish and daring vision of eccentricity. Other supporting players include the magnificent Judi Dench’s Miss Avocet, Emmy-winning actress Allison Janney (from TV’s “Mom”) as Dr. Golan and Rupert Everett as the resident ornithologist.
Surely, **Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children** won’t entirely disappoint avid Burton fans as he delivers what amounts to be a safe serving of sideshow cinema ready to please the entertaining palates of gentle grotesque-loving moviegoers everywhere.
**Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children** (2016)
20th Century Fox
2 hrs. 7 mins.
Starring: Eva Green, Samuel L. Jackson, Terrence Stamp, Asa Butterfield, Judi Dench, Ella Purnell, Chris O’Dowd, Rupert Everett, Allison Janney, Milo Parker, Pixie Davies
Directed by: Tim Burton
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre: Children’s Fantasy/Sci-Fi & Family/Action & Adventure
Critic’s Rating: ** 1/2 stars (out of 4 stars)
(c) **Frank Ochieng** 2016
By Reno January 28, 2017
**The innocent peculiar children versus the monstrous peculiar adults.**
I thought it should have been a Steven Spielberg film, but he would have compromised on the visually frightening negative characters. Particularly from the little children's angle who are the regular target audience for a theme like this. Even in his recent 'The BFG', you know how the giants were portrayed. So Tim Burton was the right choice and he did his best. But not everybody agrees on that, even I was slightly disappointed. I mean technically it sounded so awesome, but the story was not that impressive. Because of too familiarity, except the peculiar characters.
It was based on the young adult book of the same name. The story of a boy named Jake. After his grandfather's murder, he goes to Wales to find the children from an island home about the stories he had heard when he was a little. He discovers they are intentionally stuck in a time loop to avoid their enemies from striking them. But what they feared is about the come true, so now how they plan to defeat after half a century hiding from them is to be told in the rest of the segment.
As a children's film fan, I wanted to like it, but not fully satisfied. It was a two hour long film, the first half was an introduction that we saw everything from its trailers and teasers. So I lost interest in those parts, but once the clash between the good and bad had began, the film started to give something new. Again the final battle at the fair should have been designed better. I thought Samuel L. Jackson was not untilised well.
The major issue with the film was the narration not trying to take a big step in the story development. Felt like they are aiming for a sequel, so they are avoiding to give out everything in here itself. Similar to the first 'Twilight' film, which was too boring drama. It is almost out of the big screen now and the rating further going to drop. The film critics bashed it, but seems most of the people and film fanatics enjoyed it. I hope they will make 'Hallow City' and I'll be waiting for that.
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