Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is the latest addition to Tim Burton’s fantastical and bizarre directorial vision. The movie is adapted from the debut novel from American author, Ransom Riggs.
The majority of the story takes place on a small Welsh island, where Jake (played by Asa Butterfield) is in search of an old orphanage for peculiar children, the one his grandfather Abe (Terence Stamp) told him stories about when he was younger.
Jake finds the home empty and ruined due to it being bombed back in World War II. Curious, Jake looks around inside the house, where he finds Emma (Ella Purnell) and eventually the rest of the peculiar children.
They lead Jake through the gateway into their eternal time loop, which is set on September 23, 1943. Jake meets Miss Peregrine (Eva Green) the caretaker of the children, and the storyline begins to unfold from there.
The narrative arc of Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is an anti-climactic one, with the focus almost entirely set to the visual aesthetics of the film. I was on board for this film from the first time I saw the trailer for it. I thought with Tim Burton directing, the fantastical concept of super powered children, and Samuel L. Jackson playing the inhuman arachnid-slender man hybrid bad guy Mr. Baron, this film would be a great one.
But after an hour had gone by, I still felt like there was too much exposition going on. In fact, it wasn’t until the last half hour where a few action scenes finally made their way on screen, and then it was over. Not to mention the characters aren’t formally introduced to Mr. Baron until the last quarter of the film.
With the title of the film being Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, I thought the film should have gave more attention towards, well, children. Instead, I kept getting the vibe this film centered on an awkward teenage romance that I wasn’t even sure was happening.
The children in the movie are labeled peculiar because of their inexplicable powers, or better referred to as their specific ‘peculiarity’. Each child was given an introduction to the main character, but then used in the rest of the film simply as background props.
None of the characters gave me an everlasting impression (despite having special powers), and I felt cheated since the whole film is about them. Children in general have the knack for being peculiar, because that’s just how kids can be, overloaded with enormous personality, but that didn’t happen.
In spite of the overall narrative arc this story is lacking, my favorite aspect of the film were the themes I was left to ponder on. One in particular is time always being at play in this film, and the manipulation of time can been perceived as an ultimate form of power.
That’s not the case unfortunately. Instead, this home for children are living in an eternal time loop that denies them the process of aging. On the surface, the children are playful and safe, and yet they yearn for new friends and a chance to live a life outside of the loop, and quite ironically, die. Maybe I have too soft a spot for children, but I found this part of the film tragic.
Tim Burton’s gothic and dark iconic style is still felt throughout this film. The selective horrific scenes might instill some unpleasant everlasting imagery for kids who watch this, including myself. But ultimately, and what it comes down to, the movie leaves the viewer feeling empty and impatient; too much story was being crumpled and stuffed into two hours.