Miss Peregrine’s captures the feeling of Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters with the aesthetic of Tim Burton’s creepy visual style. Based on the book by Ransom Riggs, Peregrine’s follows the journey of Jake Portman (Asa Butterfield), a seemingly ordinary teenager stuck in a boring providential town where his only escape from the monotony of every day life is in his Grandpa’s (Terrance Stamp) stories about a magical home full of peculiar children.
Events unfold that force Jake to leave his sleepy Florida suburb for the country of Wales, where he discovers his Grandpa’s stories held more truth than fiction when he encounters some peculiar children who take him to their home that exists beyond time. Jake acquires a certain fondness for Emma (Ella Purnell), a young girl with the power of aerokinesis who must wear lead shoes to keep her light frame from floating away. In charge of this merry band of misfits is Miss Peregrine, played by the scene stealing Eva Green. A Tim Burton veteran, Green embodies a Mary Poppins like charm coupled with a birdlike ferocity. Oh did I forget to mention Miss Peregrine tends to turn into a peregrine falcon from time to time?
Miss Peregrine is fiercely loyal and protective of her charges and enlists Jake to help protect them from Barron (Samuel L. Jackson) and the Hollows, a group of Slender man like creatures looking for immortality. Jackson is his typical over the top, chewing the scenery self but for once his performance didn’t take me out of the movie. His character is theatrical and zany and Jackson’s in your face nature actually added to the performance making him incredibly unpredictable, menacing and even funny.
This movie brings Burton back to true form, after having some creative missteps as of late. It is delightfully weird with unique and memorable characters. The main gripe I have with this film is we don’t get to spend enough time with the “memorable ones” and instead are forced to spend an inordinate amount of time with the “boring ones.” Let’s find a home full of super powered children but spend more than half our time with boring every day people whose names you can’t remember. The peculiar children do get their moments to shine throughout the film but never receive the fleshed out treatment they truly deserve.
This slight character misuse keeps this movie from reaching it’s full potential. However, it is still a fun, well-crafted fairytale that the whole family will enjoy. (Well, maybe not the really young ones) The visuals and score transport you in typical Tim Burton fashion to a world where anything is possible and the strange is embraced. The source material lends itself so well to Burton’s creepy, unique style that you would have thought it was an original screenplay from him. The audience will leave with a smile on their faces but also a slight feeling of lacking.
P.S. Keep an eye out for the battle scene at the end. I don’t think a more “Tim Burton-esque” battle scene has ever been conceived!