A Tim Burton film that doesn’t include Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter to filmmakers is a bit like stepping into a parallel dimension (or a time loop in this film’s occasion). Yet, here we are with Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Now when the trailer was released I thought to myself that this was a very ambitious project for Tim Burton, in the novel by Ransom Briggs there was a lot of information and backstory to cram into this world, which the film attempts to do but is also one of the causes of its slight downfall.
Don’t get me wrong this film manages to identify itself as a Tim Burton film by keeping it entertaining whilst also accompanied by dark elements and tone, which by the way remains very consistent, and in further doing so has the audience looking for the next oncoming strangeness of the film.
I also applaud the film by creating a story that takes us on Jake Portman’s (played by Asa Butterfield) wild twisting experience in the new world he has become part of. While heavy on the dialogue, the depth of the main characters including a few of the peculiar children is so concrete you will begin to understand why everything has been set in place and there is an emotional motivation as to why events occur. Also the inclusion of Jake’s grandfather’s stories where his sense of wonder comes from was a great way to foreshadow the characters and monsters of the film.
One such character is Miss Peregrine herself played by Eva Green who was good as the headmistress of her home and perfectly pulled off a character that was incredibly caring yet kept a strict persona. Her development as a character leads her to become an even more caring person to the children which was great to watch as we the audience want these children to stay safe throughout the films run time. However, the stand out performance has to go to Ella Purnell who plays Emma, one of the peculiar children in the home who is also very close to Jake. She was very likeable and the more mature child almost like she is the most trustworthy to Miss Peregrine.
Another box to tick when watching a Tim Burton film is great production design, and this film was no different. The locations are visually gothic like which is very appealing, there were scenes that took place in Blackpool which I remembered because I tried to go there when this film was being made and the location was chosen very well.
As I said previously, the film suffers from downfalls that almost ruin the fantasy appeal of this film. My main issue is with some very sloppy editing. I was very quick to spot a number of continuity errors whether it’s from a props position to insert shots where the lighting didn’t match the previous scene. I’m not quite sure what the editor and Tim Burton were thinking when they okayed certain scenes but there is a big problem with the passage of time when the film jumps to a different location. One moment Jake and his father (played by Chris O’Dowd) are in Florida, the next they are on a boat to Wales with a simple cut, which would sound correct to film buffs, but once you see it for yourself it become very jarring, unnatural and disrupts the films sense of time.
There is CGI in the film and for the most part it seems perfect, but there are scenes where it becomes very distinguishable. There is a scene in the film where there are two doll like figures which come back to life and duel each other, but the way they’re animated make it feel like you watching an old 1903’s monster film like King Kong. This stop motion way of animation is no stranger to Tim Burton as he has managed to pull it off in films like Frankenweenie and even his famous 1988 film Beetlejuice. However, for some reason it doesn’t seem to work in a film like this. It’s difficult to put your finger on it.
While Jake’s story is certainly positive, Jake himself isn’t all that special. Asa Butterfield is a very good actor yet his character seems to always be asking questions to the point where it becomes very annoying to hear all the time, in doing so he become this very dull protagonist to a film where it can become cheerful then dark in the blink of an eye. If you get up from the cinema screen to take a break and come back, chances are you won’t see the same tone from when you left.
In all, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children won’t be winning any appraisal for those who go into this film looking to see a well-crafted film, but for those who are looking for an entertaining ride, Miss Peregrine will not disappoint despite a few errors. In the world of film journalism and film culture, Tim Burton is often criticised for always doing adaptations and not creating original ideas, which is what gained him notoriety in the first place. Whilst I see no problem with that, Miss Peregrine only makes this criticism stronger which is a shame because as long as a film can entertain there should be minimal reason to disapprove.
Final Result: 6/10 – Above Average
Have you seen Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below
Next Time: Blood Father