Miss Peregrine movie review: A peculiar fantasy world
At The Movies
MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN
* * * (B)
Directed By Tim Burton
Starring Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Samuel L. Jackson, Judi Dench, Chris O’Dowd, Allison Janney, Rupert Everett, Terence Stamp, Kim Dickens
Fox, Rated PG-13, Fantasy, 127 minutes
Ransom Riggs’ young-adult novel, a macabre fantasy, features “peculiar children” hunted by equally peculiar predators.
Spending 70 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list, Riggs’s book suits director Tim Burton’s dark proclivities.
While his adaptation lacks the comic treatment distinguishing Burton’s best work, its imaginative visuals and storytelling elements, offer some satisfaction.
Centered around the adventures of 16-year-old Jake Portman (Asa Butterfield), an early montage acquaints us with Jake’s inattentive parents (Chris O’Dowd and Kim Dickens).
Meanwhile, this also depicts the lad’s close bond with his grandfather, Abe (Terence Stamp) who fuels Jake’s imagination with Abe’s stories of growing up in a children’s home run by pipe-smoking Miss Peregrine (Eva Green).
A home for children whose particular gifts are the type that include invisibility or floating on air, Grandfather’s stories are termed folderol by Jake’s parents, but they fill Jake with wonderment.
A few months after Abe dies under mysterious circumstances, the lad makes his way to a remote location in Wales where he explores the ruins of Miss Peregrine’s mansion.
Bombed in 1943 during WWII, some contents of her children’s home remain strangely untouched.
Jake examines jars, some containing organs preserved in formaldehyde, peruses weathered books, and finds other intact knickknacks.
Soon Jake is swept into Miss Peregrine’s time loop where the tales spun by grandfather Abe are brought winningly to life.
He meets the incomparable Miss Peregrine, whose hypnotic intonations, like that of Eva Green’s voice-twin, actress Linda Hunt, skim across the gravel at the bottom of a babbling book.
A fine-boned beauty, Miss Peregrine’s peculiarity allows her to create and maintain a 24-hour time loop in order to protect herself and her charges from vicious predators.
While each day is different, no one ages within her loop.
Yet, certain dangerous moments repeat at exact times, calling for either Miss Peregrine, or her charges to precisely carry out tasks that keep them safe.
Jake eventually learns that all peculiars are hunted by creatures determined to consume them and close their time loops, along with learning he shares the same “peculiarity” attached to his grandfather Abe.
Burton’s palette, a luscious mix of dark blues, muted reds, greys and of course black, is occasionally interrupted by a clear, luminescent sky.
With the exceptions of Jake and the lead predator (played by a smirking Samuel L. Jackson), the characters’ backstories are not revealed.
This allows the film to flow with little interruption, but sacrifices opportunities to form attachments to Miss Peregrine and her fascinating charges.
Fortunately, Riggs penned two further books in this series, so we are sure to learn more about those populating his very peculiar world.