Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – 3/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

miss-pMiss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – 3/5 –  The imaginative and the surreal; these are terms that you associate with a director like Tim Burton.  With so many eclectic stories in his film catalog, there are no categories or genres this man won’t challenge head on with his own vision.  This film is no exception.  From the allure of the story, what you get is a visionary taking you down another wondrous road.  Unlike some of his older amazing films; his odd touch cannot bring this film to the height of its potential.  Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children provides a lot of visual and imaginative appeal, but the lacking in other areas creates an experience that is just average at best.

Premise: When a young boy discovers a mystery through time travel, he finds a home of odd children.  While confronting truths of his own origins, this boy must channel his inner abilities to save both his and the children’s home.

There is a whole list of actors/actresses.  I would recommend referring to the film’s IMDb page.  From the vast list of people, there are only a two stand outs.  That would be the two main protagonist:

Eva Green as Miss Peregrine

Asa Butterfield as Jake

These two individuals do a great job in commanding the screen.  No matter if it Asa’s Jake going between timelines and interacting with the various people, or Green’s Miss Peregrine providing witty, slick and sometimes humorous one liners and conversations; you feel their humanism through all the visuals and surrealist dynamics.  When these two interact, it provides the power to bring the story, world and other characters together; allowing them to become the strong pillars to keep this film from falling apart.  When it comes to the rest; they do a decent job in providing colorful caricatures to the fantasy like world.  From the unique powers/conditions of the children, the evilness that exudes from the antagonist (played by Samuel L. Jackson), to the various other people and creatures; it is enough to push pass one-dimensional defines to create something attachable on an average scale.  Even when the go above in detail, there is a real ‘hollow’ feeling you get from them.  This generalization is caused by the lack of real development.  If allowed for more developing points, it would have created more levels and layers for them in this world.  With the lacking of any human worth combined with the sensationalizing of the character’s uniqueness, it fragments the approach towards the children of the home and the main villain.

The direction goes along a very straight and narrow path.  With an expansive mind in the director’s chair (Tim Burton), it is somewhat underwhelming to see him take on an intriguing concept with a lacking of chances.  There is no distinct level of ominous hue or building up a world of enchantment; just a plot point narrative to get the main characters from one end of the spectrum to another.  What happens is that the audience gets a general define of ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘when’ and ‘why’ to move the plot points forward; leaving behind key aspects of story or character development on the sidelines.  On the surface, you are to:

Accept that things just ‘happen’ with no explanation

Suspend disbelief of the time traveling concept

With that in mind, you take the ‘lack thereof’ with a grain of salt and move forward through a visually appealing direction.  As the film moves through its three acts, it juggles the narration through fast pacing and dark tones.  That tonal aspect (combined with the visual allure of the odd, unique and sometimes scary powers/abilities), helps provide some entertainment.  Even though there are gradual thrills, you see the generic concept of the Cause and effect method:

Character(s) come into contact with (plot point) > situation occurs > character(s) put together detail > move to next scenario and repeat

It repeats this method to keep the story moving forward.  There are some lifting of the vale of other mysteries, but the pacing never lets these new details grow.  This leaves the audience with heavy handed explanations and forced expositional notes.  Even for the lacking in so many directives, the imaginative eye is enlightening and grand.  From the creation of the world, time loops and the powers/creatures; you feel the creative process of what encompasses this world.  The strength is on the ironic blend of spectacle and eerie imaginative detail; showing you the delicate touch Tim Burton brings to this film.  He allows that visual prowess to build a strong allure in vibrant but slick sensations.  Once we get into the final act, the ‘style of substance’ wanes.  When the story begins to creep back in, the dire circumstance that is brought upon the two main characters comes across with no effect.  That lacking of a real threat and deeply moving emotional relationships that should have developed hinders the final act.  What you have is a climax that boils down to the common ‘good guys vs. bad guys’ scenario.  Here, all points lead to the convenient ‘ultimate epiphany’.  Once the epilogue comes in, it is a predictable send off, but one that does enough to end the film on a high note.

As mentioned above, the visuals are the heart and soul of this film.  No matter what part of the timeline that the main characters go to, you feel the strength through the rapturing of the cinematography.  From the oddly unique character designs and abilities, to the world of both the past and present, you feel the aesthetics of it all.  The surrealism becomes tangible, as you believe that this world of odd children exists.  The score helps levy the story’s weakness, but the music is very common for this kind of storytelling.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children has a lot of visual and imaginative appeal, but with a lot of story and character mishaps, it becomes an average experience.  If you’re a fan of Tim Burton or like fantasy style films, this would be worth seeing.  At most, I say go to a matinee, it will definitely be fun to see on the big screen.


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