Tim Burton’s latest film has elements of Alice in Wonderland, Big Fish, The Phantom Tollbooth and of course, X-Men. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is based on Ransom Riggs first novel—apparently based on a collection of old, odd photographs. A tale is woven involving a young boy named Jake (Asa Butterfield) who ends up making a trip to a remote part of Wales after a bizarre family tragedy.
The peculiar thing about this film is that it runs at two hours and seven minutes but it feels like an even longer film. Maybe because throughout most of the film, Tim Burton does not rush his scenes and if there is one thing he is successful at here, it’s at revealing how much of an outsider Jake is.
This is where Tim Burton works best—at connecting with those souls—especially young ones that don’t quite fit in. You can truly feel how Tim Burton understands and has a soft spot for the odd ones and the outsiders.
The delightful and goth Eva Green plays Miss Peregrine. I am a big Eva Green fan (from the Dreamers, to the extended version of Kingdom of Heaven, to Casino Royale, Franklyn, The Golden Compass, Dark Shadows, 300, Sin City and Penny Dreadful). It looks like after Helena Bonham Carter, she could possibly be a new muse for Tim Burton, this is her second film with him. The screen goes electric when she is on it, but despite being the titular character—there just isn’t enough of her.
Terence Stampplays Abe, Jake’s grandfather—teller of tales most may dismiss as inventive musings of an aging mind. It is his storytelling moments with Jake that remind of another Tim Burton work—Big Fish (one of my personal favorites).
The film starts out a bit slow; there are moments of delight and strangeness as we meet the wards of Miss Peregrine, each with their own peculiar qualities and “powers.”
It also has its share of the creepy and macabre, the stuff of children’s nightmares, like those of the hollowgasts—which look very much like “Slenderman.” There are twins that remind one of pale clowns or scarecrows, characters with missing eyes, a reanimated child corpse.
Then there’s some silly mayhem in the final act involving the kids and the villains lead by Mr. Barron (Samuel L. Jackson).
For the most part though, the film gets uneven, there are plot holes (as do many films that invoke time manipulation) and there are so many unanswered questions which you’d be willing to forgive if this sang or flew like his last two best films: Sweeney Todd (2007) and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005).
Next up for Tim Burton is supposedly a reunion with Winona Ryder for Beetlejuice 2. Let’s hope it has the magic, goth appeal, and fun of the original.