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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Movie Review - Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (2016)
Starring Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Samuel L. Jackson, Rupert Everett, Allison Janney, Chris O'Dowd, Terence Stamp, Ella Purnell, and Judi Dench
Directed by Tim Burton

Things started out so positively in the titularly long-winded Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children that I thought Tim Burton may had finally found himself back on the positive side of things after giving us such directorial dreck as Alice in Wonderland, Dark Shadows, and Big Eyes over the past decade.  Unfortunately, the eerie quirkiness that is the staple of the director's work hinders things here rather than helping which causes the film to falter after an incredibly promising opening thirty minutes.  That said, perhaps my disappointment with the film isn't fully Burton's fault -- I had actually read this young adult novel upon which this was based and found it oddly un-compelling considering its unique subject matter so maybe enjoyment of this work as a cinematic experience was never in the cards for me in the first place.

Grandpa Abe (Terence Stamp) has for years regaled his grandson Jake (Asa Butterfield) with WWII stories in which he says he spent a great deal of time at Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children in Wales.  The tales of the odd kids that inhabited the house stuck with Jake and following his grandfather's unfortunate and odd death, Jake and his father (Chris O'Dowd) travel to Wales to try and give them both some closure.  The exposition-filled opening act was impressively tailored by Burton to give the film a quirky vibe which, while successful initially, begins to teeter upon Jake's arrival in Wales.  Upon arriving, Jake discovers that the home of his grandfather's stories was destroyed in an air raid during the 1940s, but when he visits the house, he is greeted by a group of children who end up taking him through a time portal and back in time to September 3, 1943, where he meets the caretaker of both the home and the children residing in it -- Miss Peregrine (Eva Green).  Jake is told that Miss Peregrine has the unique ability to manipulate time and, because of this, she has created a world in which the children under her care relive the same day -- September 3, 1943 -- over and over again.  Their peaceful existence seems quaint enough, but Jake soon discovers that not everyone is happy with Miss Peregrine's abilities and there may be some other "Peculiars" who would like to see her home cease to exist.

Ultimately, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children becomes too bogged down in convoluted plot to really land successfully.  If that summary above proved a bit twisted, it's frankly much more complicated than that.  Sure, there are some nice performances which help the whole affair.  Eva Green in particular, who I've not like in the past, is charmingly odd and it works incredibly well. Asa Butterfield is somewhat of a blank slate, but I think that works for his character here (much like his role in Hugo) as he is faced with the absurdity of what he encounters.

And Burton himself really tries as a director to make the picture a success.  Despite not liking the movie all that much, this is Burton's best turn behind a camera in years.  He successfully created the world in which these characters exist -- unfortunately, the world is just a bit too confusing to succeed itself.  While not an out-and-out failure, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children ultimately is a disappointment.

The RyMickey Rating:  C

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