Now I have only briefly heard of the novel Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children prior to seeing the trailer for the film – but I was intrigued by it. So I figured I’d give it a little go. And whilst it is by no means Tim Burton’s greatest film, it’s still enjoyable in its own right.
Jake is our main character – his Grandfather (played by Terrence Stamp) tells him remarkable stories about a home for children with extraordinary abilities. No, this is Xaiver’s School for the Gifted and these kids aren’t the X-Men – well not really – these are Perculiar’s. It’s a school set in a time loop of 1943, protecting them from the outside world. Jake discovers that his Grandfather had a connection to the Peculiar’s and Jake manages to meet them. Here he discovers that he is actually a Perculiar (remember, this review is full of spoilers!) and he must use his gifts to fight off the Hollow’s – Perculiar’s who have taken a bit of a liking to eyes.
For an adventure film, the plot does take a bit of a while to get going – but thankfully there is enough going to keep attention. Some have said that the second act is hard to follow, but I managed to keep up. Once you get to grips with the whole “Time Loops” thing it’s pretty simple to keep up. Of course, the plot follows a lot of predicable paths that you might expect – but it’s by no means boring.
Like any Tim Burton film, they have some pretty high class names to give this film some attention. Eva Green is splendid as Miss Peregrine (I’d actually say she is one of the best actresses out there at the moment) and every second she is on the screen you just can’t take your eyes off her. Terrence Stamp is also good as Jake’s Grandfather and he and Asa Butterfield (who plays Jake – and you may remember Asa from The Boy With The Stripped Pyjamas) have some pretty good dynamics; including one scene where he speaks to his Grandfather in the past that actually did hit me in the feels, I’m not ashamed to admit. Judi Dench is in this film as well (because Judi Dench!) but not nearly as much as she could have been.
The children were also pretty good and I didn’t really feel like any of them had any bad moments per say. I guess my only complaint is that, most of the time, it felt like they were only there to drive the story along and I didn’t really feel like their personalities were fleshed out enough, baring maybe one – which I’ll get to in a mo.
My other complaint was Samuel L. Jackson as the villain Barron. Now, I LOVE Sam Jackson – and I know that he’s a great actor that can play some pretty scary villains (Jules from Pulp Fiction being one of them, although whether he’s a “villain” or not in the true sense of the word is up for debate), but here, he was just a little too goofy for my liking. It’s like the film can’t make its mind up whether they wanted him to be serious or comedic and that kinda clashed a few times. It made it a little too hard to take him seriously.
However, the Hollows in this film were most certainly one of the more darker moments of this film. Sorta like if Slenderman was in Silent Hill – they were pretty creepy and the way they moved just made me shiver. And their knack for eating eyes was just - *shudder*. Defo a highlight of the film for me. They were scary enough to give the younger members of the crowd nightmares.
Now, onto a few things that I didn’t like. I’m not sure if you’d call these plot holes or not, but they kinda took away from my enjoyment of the film a little.
Firstly, we have the character of Emma. She was kinda put across as a “Damsel in Distress” type of character, but she had one of the best powers. She is light as air and has to be tied down – but she can also blow hurricane force winds. Anyone who’s read my Draconica or Amanda Moonstone series will know that’s my kinda gal! And yet, she rarely uses this power for anything useful. When the Hollow is attacking, she just stands back screaming – when all she has to do is just blow it away. She does use this power later on the Hollows, but I just wished she used it more often. The same can be said for Olive, who has fire powers. Why didn’t she just use it to burn the Hollow? I mean, their house was gonna be destroyed anyway, so what did it matter?
Secondly, what happened to Jake’s Father (played by Chris O’Dowd from The I.T. Crowd – with a fairly convincing American accent, even if his Irish did come through now and then). He took Jake to Wales to try and find the old house, but then he just disappears halfway through the story. And considering the end of the film involved Jake getting back from Blackpool to Florida (with NO money might I add), did his Father stay in Wales? Honestly, I wondered why he was in the film most of the time. Would have been nice to have some resolution for his character.
Finally, and this isn’t really a complaint, more a wasted opportunity. The character of Enoch – he was by far one of the more creepier Perculiar’s. He had the ability to bring things back to life using hearts and control them like puppets. Plus he also had a resentment for Jake due to a past incident with his Grandfather and he was a bit of a douche. All the signs were there to have him become a villain – and personally I think he would have made a MUCH better villain than Barron, with his creepy attitude and somewhat disturbed personality. It never happened and I felt like his resolution was a cop out. Oh well.
But the biggest highlight for me? Reading the end credits – I discovered that Dan Wright was the Senior Modeller! That alone makes me want to give it another point!
So in conclusion, it’s not a bad film at all, and in fact it’s more enjoyable than a lot of the reviews make it out to be. But some plot points irked me and the characters were a little uneven at times. However, the story is easy to follow and the Hollows add a much needed fear factor to the film.
In conclusion, I give Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children 3.5 out of 5 stars.
If you enjoy super powered activities, then any of the X-Men movies should be good for what ails ya. Or if you want to check out some of Tim Burton’s best work, then Edward Scissorhands would be a good place to start.