Run, rabbit, run, run, run! Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a film that crept under a lot of people’s radars. By avoiding the blanket marketing, this film become something of an understated treat.
The film is based off a popular series of books by Ransom Riggs. This review is not going to be a book-film comparison; I’ll leave that to the experts. This review is based on the merits (and holes) of the film itself, which writer Jane Goldman has taken the time and care to explain in the film’s two-hour duration.
While the word ‘children’ is in the title, this isn’t a film for young ones. Ransom Riggs’ novels are for the young adult market, so keep that in mind if you’re thinking of taking younger ones for an outing over the school holidays.
Tim Burton has been a little bit hit-and-miss with his releases over the last few years – Dark Shadows and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory being two recent films that didn’t quite reach their mark, while Burton fans would argue the particulars of films such as Frankenweenie, but Miss Peregrine’s is a step back into the dark world of fantasy.
Burton’s signature gothic style is all over this film. The hollowgast monsters cast a frightening vision for your nightmares, while other disturbing elements of the film are done without terror but with a little bit of amusing element of disgust. In this film, the cast and the story lead the way. Oh, and the classic Burton homages – to his own work, no less.
Jake, a teenage boy (Asa Butterfield) who adores his father, suspects foul play when his grandfather (Terence Stamp) is found dead. From stories he was told as a child, he pieces together a tale of deception. His discovery takes him to Wales, wherein he uncovers the peculiar world of children with peculiar talents. Those talents include everything from being able to control air, leading to a spectacular underwater scene, reanimation, invisibility, and breathing bees.
Traversing ‘loops,’ he is taken back to September 1943, when the country was being bombed by Nazi forces. In order to survive, Miss Peregrine (Eva Green) and her children ‘loop’ time into a single day to stay alive. They never age; they seem safe. But all is not well. With Jake’s grandfather dead, it serves as a warning. They’re being hunted by the power-hungry Barron (Samuel L. Jackson), and the hollowgast. Will Miss Peregrine, Jake and the children escape?
While the plot stands on its own two feet, those who haven’t read the novels might find they have a few questions about some of the plot transitions. There’s the classic love story, the classic jealous counterpart and of course, the classic good vs evil.
While Eva Green was reportedly not the first choice for the starring role as Miss Peregrine, coming from her role as Vanessa Ives on the supernatural TV show Penny Dreadful served her well as the British protector of her household.
Dame Judi Dench joins the frivolity for a while. It seems that no matter what role she plays, she also seems to have the power to validate any film she’s in.
Is this film worth watching? If you’re into adventure fantasy with a taste for the peculiar, this film is highly recommended.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is in cinemas from September 29.