A boy goes in search of mysterious home filled with strange sorts.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is Tim Burton’s best film this millennium.
In some ways that says more about the director’s recent output than anything else so I’ll qualify by saying that it’s a sometimes enchanting fantasy about a group of likeable oddballs trying to get by in a world that’s as strange as it is unusually dark and deadly.
It’s vintage Burton, with creepy kids who make stop motion creatures fight to the death and his constant theme of outsiders who don’t belong. But it’s also a more subtle film in its style than we’ve come to expect from a filmmaker who had started to disappear into his own visuals.
One big improvement on his recent films lies in the story, which remains coherent and even emotional, perhaps down to the grounding in Ransom Riggs’ original novel, here adapted by Jane Goldman.
It’s a typical enough tween tale of a kid (Asa Butterfield) who doesn’t feel like he belongs and goes on a journey of self discovery but the young folks are well cast and manage to be more than just creepy cardboard cut outs.
There’s some grown up help too, most impressively from Eva Green who looks simply stunning in the part of Miss Peregrine herself. She’s not a huge part of the film but makes her presence felt.
Not all adult parts are as successful, with Samuel L. Jackson being particularly problematic. Sometimes he’s properly villainous (and certainly looks the part) but in later scenes this venom is undercut with oddly mistimed humour. Either type of character would be fine, but wandering between the two makes it harder to care about what he’s up to.
Butterfield does well, it helps that he looks a tad less elfin these days, and I suspect you’re going to be seeing a lot more of young Ella Purnell who shines through Bruno Delbonnel’s luscious lens. Chris O’Dowd has an awkward American accent and is wasted here.
It’s mostly entertaining stuff nonetheless, though I can’t recommend dulling those lovely images for the mostly useless 3D. The climactic action is nicely staged but played a little too much for laughs, which is strange as many other scenes might be a little grisly for young eyes.
There’s a rushed feeling to the ending too but it still manages to hit most of the right emotional notes, and it might even set things up for some kind of sequel. The good news is that Tim Burton is back, and fans are sure to enjoy what Miss Peregrine has to offer.
3.5/5 -Daniel Anderson