TL;DR – A solid film with intrigue and a unique premise, it is well filmed and acted, but also surprisingly reserved by the director
Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars
So I should start my review with the proviso that I have never read the book (though this is something I am going to fix) so I can’t tell you if Miss Peregrine’s is a good adaptation of the source material, but what I can tell you is that it is a fascinating film in its own right. I should also point out, this is probably not a film for young children, as there are a number of horror elements to it.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children tells the story of Jake Portman (Asa Butterfield) who lives a normal life in Florida, not suspecting that his family has secret past. If this synopsis sounds familiar to you, well that’s because Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children falls into that Young Adult genre like the Harry Potters, Hunger Games, Percy Jacksons and many, many more. This is a genre that while very innovative at the start has now really begun to fall into the same routine, and while Miss Peregrine’s is one of the better examples in quite a long time it does also feel more than a little familiar.
However before we get into those issues, we need to talk about the things Miss Peregrine’s does right, because this is a really solid film. Firstly I have to say that this movie is visually quite stunning, from the locations to the sets, everything has a sense of beauty to it. The location manager for this movie needs to get an Oscar (I know there is no Oscar for that but there should, oh and stunt coordination whilst we’re at it) those vista were simply stunning. The house is exquisitely detailed and feels correctly period with its décor, as well as this the costumes give that same reinforcement of time and location that gives the film an anchor as it jumps around the place. The one thing I found quite interesting is that the director Tim Burton is almost famous for his stylistic films, Batman, Edward Scissorhands & Charlie and the Chocolate Factory etc. but here, even though we have a film that is a little bit odd, slightly horrory, you don’t see much of his trademark style. I mean it is there, notably in the design of Miss Peregrine (Eva Green) and Mr. Barron (Samuel L. Jackson), but it is much more reserved than what we have seen in the past. The CGI and visual effect all more well for the most part, bar for a really bad CGI Tram at the end.
Another area where the film shines is with its cast, for the most part this film depends on the young actors and actresses to drive the plot and provide the emotion heart to the film, and they pull it off quite well. This is quite an achievement since they are all playing characters that are older than they would appear. The interplay between Jake, Emma (Ella Purnell), Olive (Lauren McCrostie), and Enoch (Finlay MacMillan) is your standard will they won’t they teen angst, but they all pull it off so well it doesn’t become eye rollingly annoying. Indeed as you get to know more of their stories they become both tragic and relatable. As well as this, there is also the ‘adult’ cast, which more than anything they show off how good they are with rolls like this. I mean you can’t really go wrong when you have the amazing Terence Stamp (Abraham Portman) whose voice alone is one of the best in the business. Eva Green was quite captivating as the titular Miss Peregrine, doubling down on the peculiar, though Samuel L Jackson did give me weird flashback to Jumper. The one thing I have to say is that for some reason I did not get use to Chris O’Dowd (Franklin Portman) accent, it was really weird, maybe it’s just that I have such a vivid picture of him in the IT Crowd.
Besides feeling more than a little familiar at this point I think the story was an interesting one and did move on at the right pace. As well as this, it does not completely go in the direction you expect it to, I think in some cases after watching several films you start to notice the same patters appearing, but here there were a number of times where I went ‘oh this is going to happen’ only to be completely wrong. It is also dealing with some interesting, but also at times really quite dark themes, like super dark themes. There was one issue and that is with the climax of the film, something there didn’t quite work, it was all engaging but not as well as it could have been, I think it was missing something with the musical score.
So in the end I did quite enjoy Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, even if it is not a perfect film. It had a good cast, a good story, and everything comes together well, if you’re looking to see a film these school holidays this could be a good choice.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Directed by – Tim Burton
Screenplay by – Jane Goldman
Based on – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Starring – Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Terence Stamp, Chris O’Dowd, Ella Purnell, Lauren McCrostie, Finlay MacMillan, Allison Janney, Rupert Everett, Judi Dench & Samuel L. Jackson
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: PG; NZ: M; UK: 12A; USA: PG13