Title Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Director: Tim Burton
Summary: When Jacob discovers clues to a mystery that spans different worlds and times, he finds Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. But the mystery and danger deepen as he gets to know the residents and learns about their special powers.
There are a lot of things that could be said about Tim Burton, but if there is one thing even his most die hard fans can agree on is that the last several years have not been kind to him. Abysmal failures like Dark Shadows and Alice in Wonderland have left a sour taste in the mouth of those that once loved the mind that brought us Edward Scissorhand. While most of his movies tend to at least make money they have become predictable and boring with the saying ‘that’s exactly what you would expect from Burton’ becoming a common turn of phrase. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children looks like yet another Burton production with this issue only he was the director. The unique visuals combined with the premise seemed like the perfect harmony that could create a genre classic.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is visually stunning but a clunky story and reliance on cliches does not blend well.
The premise of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children appears to be a turn on the X-Men only taking the premise even further. While Professor X hides his children in a home Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children hides the children in a literal pocket dimension. This is the logical extreme and the idea is fun. A world that is locked in the same day during World War II gives the movie a very unique look that blends steampunk and time appropriate fashion that the target audience will likely love. What that target audience is is a little harder to pin down. It looks like it could be targeted to younger people but the moment where it is revealed how the bad guys keep human?? was jarring. It is very Burton-like to blend some real horror iconography with this look but it felt a little out of place here.
The world building is the strength of the film but it is also its downfall. A book has 100,000 words to explain a world and build all of its subtle nuances, but a movie only has a short amount of time to explain everything. The unique premise takes far too long to explain and the narrative is bogged down with long bouts of exposition that while they make the world feel more real and interesting stop?? the pacing short. The second act is particularly guilty of this as the movie needs to explain our bad guys and why the need for a pocket dimension like this is even needed. Fortunately most of that exposition is being given by Eva Green who couldn’t be more perfect for this role if she tried.
The thing that can save a movie like this is the look and that is probably why they hired a visionary like Burton in the first place. The look of the movie works and it works very well but the look also makes the more cliched parts stand out even more. The bare bones of the plot are the same ones we’ve seen in every young adult adaptation; a romance that makes little to no sense and moves way too fast, embracing your inner freak, learning ‘normal’ doesn’t exist and a boy becoming a man. We’ve seen all of this done so many times that these two plots don’t fit well together. Instead of taking a premise that is well known, and adding a new coat of paint to make it look new and interesting, they instead are smashing the Burton aesthetic with stories we know way too well and the pieces do not work.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is far from a bad movie and the teens that watch it are probably going to love the look. It looks great but aesthetics and visuals can only go so far if we aren’t invested in the character, and I was not invested.