MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN (UK/USA 2016) **
Directed by Tim Burton
Starring: Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Samuel L. Jackson, Judi Dench, Rupert Everett, Allison Janney, Terence Stamp, Chris O’Dowd
Review by Gilbert Seah
Based on the 2011 novel of the same name by Ransom Riggs, the film has a few similarities with the HARRY POTTER films which is likely the reason the rights of the book were quickly picked up for a film adaptation. Like Harry Potter, the boy with hidden powers, the hero of the story is a young 16-year old, Jake Portman (Asa Butterfield) who might or might not possess hidden powers. The orphanage home is a sorry replacement of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts. But Jake also stumbles across a home with magic as well as evil forces.in the background. The story here is so-so and can nowhere be compared to the depth and imagination of J.K. Rowlings. The film, however has the benefit of being directed by Tim Burton and it is no surprise then that the film has a NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS dark look.
If one is a Tim Burton fan, there is a lot of Tim Burton to enjoy in the film, a part of it even feeling like ALICE IN WONDERLAND but do no expect anything new. Burton trudges along his storytelling in this film, with special effects, just going through the motions with his past methods. The film is also overly long at over 2 hours.
The film begins with the death of Jake’s grandfather (Terence Stamp). 16-year-old Jacob “Jake” Portman is forced to travel to a mysterious island in order to discover the truth of what really happened. The film jumps frequently from the U.S. to England so often that it becomes confusing. One has to remember for example that when the pier is seen, it is Blackpool and no longer the Tampa Bay area.
Jake stumbles into what seems to be a different world. Jake is introduced to the extraordinary Miss Peregrine (Eva Green) and her peculiar children at Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. But when what seems to be a fairytale takes a horrific turn, Jake is forced to make a life altering decision in order to protect the ones he loves from the monsters of his grandfather’s past, the creepy Hollows and the dangerous Wights led by the terrifying Mr. Barron (Samuel L. Jackson).
The parts of the story in the film also feels unrelated and dumped together. These include among other curiosities unexplained in existence: World War II destroying the orphanage; the connection between Jake’s father and the monsters; Miss Pedegrine’s loops and her ability to change into a bird.
Bright moments are provided by Samuel L Jackson as Mr. Barron who as expected delivers another over the top performance. His under-his-breath curses each time Jake evades him are priceless. This is also one film Jackson does not get to utter his famous ‘mf’ phrase. He does, utter, however,”What the f…” under his breath.
MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN is rightly released just before Halloween to draw a family audience with the film getting a boost once the 31st of October comes around. It should do ok box-office numbers.
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