Release Date: September 30, 2016
Production Company: Chernin Entertainment, Tim Burton Productions
Duration: 127 minutes
“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” hit theaters this weekend. Based on Ransom Riggs’ novel, this movie is quintessentially Tim Burton — dark and poignant all at once. It opens with Jake (Asa Greenfield), a young misfit, putting together mysterious clues that his murdered grandfather gave him before he died. Eventually, Jake finds himself in the orphanage that his grandfather once lived in. He befriends the children of Miss Peregrine’s (Eva Green) home, especially Ella Purnell (Emma Bloom). The children all have unique powers: For example, when Ella takes her boots off, she floats away. In addition to possessing grisly superpowers, the children don’t age. As Jake gets to know the peculiar children, adventure ensues as an evil force by the name Barron (Samuel L. Jackson) threatens Jake’s new friends.
This film is, unsurprisingly, enchanting from a visual aspect. A seemingly adorable little girl reveals a hidden set of grisly teeth, and Jake and Ella find themselves in an underwater shipwreck in an exceptionally stunning and lovely scene. Burton, as usual, creates mood and meaning in every moment through his masterful use of visual elements. What is surprising, though, is the lack of coherent plot. It’s easy to appreciate and even get lost in the breathtaking imagery, but actually following the storyline? Not so much.
Despite a script that feels overloaded and bordering on incoherent, the star-studded cast still manages to work well — Green and Jackson both give great performances. A scene in which the two confront each other showcases their ability to create onscreen chemistry despite a less than stellar script. Green is definitely the star of this show as a darker Mary Poppins, but Jackson also brings an element of bizarreness to the evil Mr. Barron, whose appetite for eyeballs is displayed in a fantastically hair-raising manner.
Another star is Bloom, who is captivating as a teenager struggling to find herself. Bloom is a perfect fit for this eccentric and charming character — her ability to float and blow air bubbles is portrayed in a darkly quirky way that only makes sense in a Burton-esque character. Her love interest, and supposed main character Greenfield, fades into the background compared to some of his co-stars, but this can be forgiven, as the film does not give him as much room to explore his role. These characters also bring in some grim humor that is typical to a Burton film and provides some lightness in this grisly world. Although the script and storyline were not outstanding, the film’s stars preform well and sometimes almost manage to distract from a confusing and clunky plot.
If you are looking for a classic Tim Burton film, such as “Beetlejuice” or “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” prepare for some disappointment. This film lacks the distinct and meaningful plot that much of Burton’s earlier work contains. “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children,” while missing the level of peculiarity that was expected from a Tim Burton film, is still unsurprisingly dazzling and gruesome all at once. Where this movie falls short in storyline, it exceeds expectations in aesthetics and is worth the watch simply for the sake of watching.