You can tell this film is a Tim Burton production before his credit even appears on screen; an eerie score, mixed-period costumes with gothic undertones, and many eccentricities are unmistakably Burton.
We begin by meeting Jake, played by Asa Butterfield (Ender’s Game, Hugo) an awkward teen who does not fit in with his peers (we might even describe him as “peculiar”)! We are quickly introduced to his grandfather with whom Jake clearly has a close relationship, or at least, he used to. Flash backs of Jake and his grandfather throughout the film further explore this relationship, why they drifted apart, and we hear more about Miss Peregrine and her home for Peculiar Children.
The beginning of the story feels a little rushed, like Burton can’t wait for us to meet the children and show-off the beautiful visuals awaiting us. Unfortunately, this feeling does not diminish as the film moves on; a devastating event leads to Jake wanting to find Miss Peregrine’s residence and the peculiar children he has heard so much about. There is barely any time to process what was happened before Jake and his father arrive on an island off the coast of Wales. The children and their “peculiarities” are all introduced rapidly and the story line quickly delves into danger and terror.
Eva Green’s performance as Miss Peregrine is astounding and one of a few saving graces for this picture; she portrays the matriarchal protector of the children. She is what is know as an “Ymbrynes”, a peculiar who protects peculiar children by creating a time loop in a favourable environment. She also turns into a peregrine falcon, which is pretty cool.
The evil in this film is nothing short of nightmarish; giant slenderman-looking monsters who regain human form by eating the childrens’ eyes.
Surprisingly, the monsters have a leader, Mr Barron, played by none other than Samuel L Jackson. He is less terrifying than the monsters, but he brings a creepy and maniacal aspect as the main antagonist; with a little comic relief thrown in for good measure.
The film overall has been receiving mixed reviews, as is often the case with book adaptations. As someone who has not read, or even heard of, the original source material I enjoyed this film.
There is always a lot going on in Burton films which is why I wasn’t surprised or annoyed by the rapidity and business in the flow of the story line; again, trying to get a whole book into one film seems very difficult. Some of the characters seem very rigid and devoid of much emotion, which does damage the love story, I found this issue with Burton’s adaptation of the “Alice in Wonderland”. Thankfully though, the emotional and very grand gesture at the end of the film leaves you uplifted and smiling.
I wish someone would travel through time to find me….