"Tim Burton’s strongest live-action outing in years"
Tim Burton returns to form with Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children after lacklustre outings like Alice in Wonderland, its sequel Alice Through the Looking Glass, and Big Eyes. That being said, the new movie doesn’t feel particularly Burton-esque as it is quite a traditional children’s film, just with serious dollops of horror which you probably wouldn’t get with other filmmakers.
He feels like the perfect fit to direct an adaptation of Ransom Riggs’ 2011 young adult novel of the same, from a screenplay by Jane Goldman, because it is full of weird and wonderful characters Burton seems to gravitate to, it’s just surprising he failed to put more of his own distinct stamp on it.
Asa Butterfield stars as Jake, an American teenager who witnesses his grandfather Abraham (Terence Stamp) horrifically die at the hands of a monster, which nobody else can see. Later, he receives a postcard from him of an island in Wales where Abe used to live in an orphanage. Jake realises this is the place full of wonderful peculiars his grandfather told him about as bedtime stories and his father Franklin (Chris O’Dowd) agrees to take him on a trip there.
Jake discovers the orphanage but it has been left in ruins following a bombing during World War II. Yet somehow he is found by floating girl Emma Bloom (Ella Purnell) and other children including invisible boy Millard (Cameron King) and Olive (Lauren McCrostie), who can start fires. He enters ‘the loop’ and is back in 1943. The orphanage is run by Miss Peregrine (Eva Green), an Ymbryne, someone who can manipulate time and morph into a bird. She always resets the day so they are always living on 3 September.
However, their livelihoods are under threat from The Wights, evil peculiars lead by Mr. Barron (Samuel L. Jackson), who can take the form of others and control the monsters known as Hollows.
This film looks absolutely gorgeous and is glorious to look at, the CGI is also incredible too; with notable moments including a showdown on Blackpool Pier, Emma expelling water from a sunken ship and Peregrine turning into her signature bird. That being said, it was clearly relied on heavily and perhaps more practical effects could have been used at times.
Butterfield has shown he’s perfectly capable of leading films such as Hugo and Ender's Game and he continues that here as Jake, who goes on a journey with the audience. Green is impressive as always, her make-up and styling looked amazing and you can really believe she could turn into a bird. The biggest revelation was Purnell, who became the emotional heart of the film and is captivating onscreen.
This is a wonderful kids’ adventure and it was fascinating seeing the different abilities, but, as you can expect from Burton, there are some scares, and far more than expected. It may even be too much for some youngsters. Regardless of that, this is definitely his strongest live-action outing in years.