Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar ChildrenCultureCinemaMovie reviews
Tim Burton is back on form – at last. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children brings together the core tenants of Burton’s best works: emotional impact, a healthy dose of the macabre and phantasmagorical visuals.
The movie tells the story of Jake (Asa Butterfield), whose achingly ordinary life in Florida is interrupted by the untimely death of his grandfather (Terence Stamp), who used to tell him stories of the peculiar children he grew up with when he was sent to a home in Wales to escape Nazi persecution during the war. Naturally, it turns out these were not just mere stories, and in a bid to find out what happened to his grandfather, Jake goes to Wales and is introduced to the world of Peculiars – those born with special gifts – and to Miss Peregrine, the crossbow-wielding home’s headmistress (played by the ever-watchable Eva Green), who has put this world in a time-loop. Got that? That’s just the beginning.
Indeed, the plot somewhat defies effective synopsis. As the narrative develops, time-travel begins to play a major role, and although hurried explanations are offered for the logic behind it, this particular aspect does not bear much scrutiny. The experience of the film as a whole, however, is not marred by this lack of reasoning, as the real joy is to be found in the strange, wayward, and at times plain grotesque characters that are brought to life on screen.
Samuel L. Jackson plays the villain and clearly loves every moment. He heads up the Peculiar splinter group that is out to cause some damage for complicated reasons, controlling a host of “hologasts” – monsters who eat eyeballs. Whilst this is classic Burton-stock, it should be noted that the film does not generally shy away from violence of a morbid, grisly nature. This gives it its edge, akin to that of some of the director’s earlier feature films.
However, what grounds the picture is not its edgy undertones or its decadent visuals, but the story being told about sanctuary and belonging for those who stand outside of “normal”. Cynics will say that this is nothing new from Burton, and perhaps it isn’t. But it is done well and with more flare and nuance than we’ve seen from this distinctive director for a while.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is released nationwide on 29th September 2016.
Watch the trailer for Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children here: