Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is the latest film from director Tim Burton, based on the popular young adult novel of the same name by Ransom Riggs. Having never read the book, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but being a big fan of Burton, I was excited to move past the whole Alice in Wonderland fiasco. The fantastic cast was also a big draw: Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Samuel L. Jackson, Judy Dench, Chris O’Dowd, Rupert Everett, Terence Stamp, and Allison Janney, just to name a few of the awesome actors in this film.
Jacob Portman (Butterfield) is the classic teenage nobody living in boring old Florida, working in a grocery store and generally being ignored by his more popular peers. He grew up listening to his grandfather (Stamp) tell stories about a home for special children where he lived during World War II; stories so fantastic that Jake was convinced they were fictitious until tragedy strikes and Jake ventures to Wales in search of this home and its mysterious caretaker, Miss Peregrine ( Green) to get answers. There, he meets children with unusual and—dare I say—peculiar abilities and discovers he too possesses special abilities inherited from his grandfather that he will need to use to help save these children.
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is classic Burton: whimsical story with youthful fantasy and a dark, disturbing twist. The visual elements in this film are nothing short of stunning, as are the costumes, hair, and makeup. There’s even a macabre stop-motion sequence that will make even the most lukewarm Burton fan giddy with nostalgia. However, this film is far from perfect.
As is the case with any book-turned-movie, there is obviously a lot of depth to this story that the movie had to leave out due to time constraints. As a result, the plot is awkward and over-simplified, glossing over intricate nuances of the story with cliche dialogue. This is probably even more apparent to someone who has read the book. It feels a lot like a movie made for children, but at the same time, there was some pretty dark content probably not suitable for a young audience, hence the PG-13 rating. I’m still not sure who the target audience for this film is: very brave children or very childish adults?
I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy this film, because I did. (Childish adult, right here.) Die-hard Burton fans will be able to overlook this film’s flaws and appreciate the dark, beautiful, and sometimes quirky style he brings to the table. My biggest problem with this film, however, is that our beloved Danny Elfman was glaringly absent from the musical score.