Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is the right type of film for Burton to make us forget Alice in Wonderland. The premise – even though it sounds like a Gothic X-men – is a toy box of horrors that he can play with.
The movie features flashes of the director’s dark whimsical inventiveness. Changes from the book created menacing Hollowgasts whose diet of choice make them creepier than they were in the book. This results in haunting images of victims that you would expect from Burton. Ms. Peregrine’s quaint orphanage, which is stuck in a time loop in the 1940s, looks charming.
Eva Green, who could be the new replacement for Helen Bonham Carter, is perfectly cast as the enigmatic headmistress. The rest of the cast also did well even though they have little to do as they become props around Jake. Samuel L. Jackson delivers a typecasted performance but he makes it work.
Unfortunately, these potential elements get wasted as the movie turns into a mediocre YA blockbuster.
Instead of exploring the world of the peculiar children, the plot revolves around the cliched self-actualization of a boy. This comes with all the YA tropes – the family mythology, boy meets girl romance, and a caricature nemesis. It’s not exactly Asa Butterfield’s fault. Jake sticks out like plain furniture in a room filled with interesting curios.
It doesn’t help that the plot has bad pacing. It starts slow and rushes towards the end, becoming less interesting and more generic by the third act with a stereotypical Battle Royale. You get a glimpse of the children’s abilities in action, but they’re too little too late. After all, this is really about Jake getting the girl with big doe eyes.
In the end, what you get is an interesting idea turned into YA fodder. Whatever peculiarity that the movie shows is just a thin veneer. As long as you keep your expectations low from the movie and Tim Burton, it’s enjoyable enough as a distraction.
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children benefits from Burton's direction, but its dragged down by a mediocre YA Story.