Director Tim Burton is no stranger to dark fantasy films. Beetlejuice, Dark Shadows and Alice in Wonderland are just a few of his quirky output. Infusing humour amidst the fantastical blackness his characters inhabit, Burton’s continued success shows he is on the right path.
Based on a novel by Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children appears a perfect fit. As weird and colourful as his previous movies, it finds him in his element in conjuring a work of strange disposition.
After a bizarre tragedy strikes his family, teenager Jake (Asa Butterfield) travels to a mysterious island searching for the truth. Hearing tales from his grandfather Abraham (Terence Stamp), he is further astonished when meeting Miss Peregrine (Evan Green). Owner of a home for peculiar children, Miss Peregrine seems to be the answer Jake is looking for. Events take a sudden turn when a seemingly idyllic island existence is threatened by a dangerous group led by Mr Barron (Samuel L Jackson). Forced to protect those he loves, Jake stands firm against the onslaught of infinitively bizarre creatures.
On the surface Miss Peregrine has a lot going for it – great scenery, amazing CGI and an intriguing source story. These should add up to enjoyable viewing although eventually the cracks start showing. The main problem is Tim Burton. He has done so many of these types of films that he is in danger of parodying himself. From the look to the style of acting, there’s a sense of having seen it before. Whilst it’s far better than most bland cinematic products, there’s a feeling of diluted energy in his latest work.
Butterfield makes for a fair hero although he is upstaged by Green’s showy role. She does what she can with a script often mirroring the X-Men series in structure. There’s not much originality seen but the spectacular CGI is continually pleasing on the eye. This visual flair goes some way in papering over plot holes, with the sluggish pacing also an issue. Burton’s love of horror seeps through on a few occasions, managing some effective scares amongst the family fare he aims for.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is an average Tim Burton effort. Despite not being among his best, it isn’t his worst. Perhaps he needs to re-invent his style to provide fresh energy. In doing so, he could re-discover his passion for crafting more original material to dazzle future audiences.
Reviewed by Patrick Moore
Rating out of 10: 6