Tim Burton -after directing the Margaret Keane biopic, ‘Big Eyes’ starring Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz -is now back in the director’s seat to show us his vision of Ransom Riggs’ (obvious) best-selling novel ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children’, which stars a very pretty Eva Green as the title character, Asa Butterfield (from the horrible ‘Ender’s Game’) and a cast of young actors as the children kept away from the outside world due to their “peculiarity”. There’s the bee-breathing Hugh (Milo Parker); Emma, (Ella Purnell) the posh blue-dressed child who has the power to breath a gust of wind, and float when not wearing her lead shoes; the masked ballerina twins, (Thomas and Joseph Odwell) who have a secret peculiarity that serves a purpose during the films major fight; Fiona, (Georgia Pemberton) who can make plant life grow to an unusually large size; Brownwyn, (Pixie Davis) who is extremely strong; Claire, (Raffiella Chapman) who has a Computer-generated monster mouth in the back of her head (that leads to comical results); Horace, (Hayden Keeler-Stone) who can literally project his dreams and show them to the other children during something Miss Peregrine calls “Movie Night”; Enoch, (Finlay MacMillian) who uses real live organs to bring dead, or non-living things to life; Olive, (Lauren McCrostie) who can heat up anything she touches, and also has the power to conjure up fire (like Elsa from ‘Frozen’ if she were the complete opposite, or Diablo from ‘Suicide Squad’); and the invisible Millard (Cameron King).
They all live in Miss Peregrine’s home in Wales where they do the same daily chores, and manage to live happy lives doing so. It isn’t until young Jake (Butterfield) attempts to stumble upon this home when their lives begin to change, but once he does, it’s like they just all-of-a-sudden expect him to be in that place; even Miss Peregrine herself, with stopwatch in hand, puts on a smile upon first meeting him. Jake, at first, is a little unsure, but grows to enjoy their company after a time of being there, and is eventually assigned to protect them when Peregrine has to deal with the likes of giant tentacled video game/Slenderman-like creatures called Hollows, and eye-eating scientists led by Samuel L. Jackson’s hysterically cartoon-eyed Barron, who is completely overdone with one-liners and humorous bits of dialogue.
I can’t tell you the whole story, but from its first 10-15 minutes, ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’ takes a while to get through by introducing us to Jake, his supposedly senile grandfather, (Terence Stamp) and his disbelieving parents (Chris O’Dowd and Kim Dickens) as we go through snippets of his life which he kind of tells to his psychiatrist (An Allison Janney cameo); but once we first see these children, the film gets more interesting, enjoyable, and even better. The visual effects provided by a huge crew of talent behind the scenes were amazing and felt real. I felt as if I was watching Purnell in a blue dress float to put a squirrel back in its home, or an invisible boy in old-fashioned clothes. There are a couple of moments, however, when these visual effects felt photoshopped from a creature slasher video-game (The howlers, and some skeletons).
What really made this movie for me are the young cast and the fact that Tim Burton was chosen to direct this. The kids that were in this movie did so well and have enough emotion to where you can excuse its predictable spots. (which are thankfully, very few) To bring up the fact that Mr. Burton was the choice director is perfect. I’m not saying this because I am a huge fan of his work despite a few duds (‘Dark Shadows’ and the ‘Planet of the Apes’ “re-imagining”), but because there is no other director that can make a vision quite like this. This movie is pure Tim Burton, and I’m pretty sure he made an appearance in this movie. (I’ll IMDB it.)
I can’t end this review without discussing the main focus; Eva Green as Miss Peregrine! She has the charm of Mary Poppins while not being just a pretty face. She has a bit of sternness while also dealing with lines that give her a quick-snap delivery. To be honest, she was a bit hard to understand, and you’ll have to really follow what she says, but her expressions say all. Sadly, she’s not in the movie as long as she should be, but whenever she shows up on-screen, her presence is a sight to behold.
I am glad to have been given the opportunity to see Tim Burton back on form with the Gothic magic he is known for, and hope he has more opportunities to direct more films (especially sequels) in the future.