Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children Doesn’t Quite Mesh
Title: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Director: Tim Burton
Summary: When Jacob discovers clues to a mystery that spans different worlds and times, he finds Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. But the mystery and danger deepen as he gets to know the residents and learns about their special powers.
I was a Tim Burton apologist for a long time. As a teenager I went through a goth phase where I was convinced everything he made was genius. That is until his movies kept getting worse and worse, and by the time Alice in Wonderland rolled around I threw up my hands and decided I could no longer defend this. That being said as a recovering goth I have always liked his artist vision and the things that he really seems to stumble on are story??????. When I saw that he was directing Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children if nothing else I had a little bit of hope. I didn’t think this was going to be a return to a Beetlejuice level of greatness but perhaps it could make Burton be something more than a joke to the teenagers he was exclusively appealing to for so many years.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is far from Burton’s best work but it’s look and a great performance by Eva Green overcome its flaws.
I have not read the books that have gone along with this series. I have heard good things but I’m going into this as someone who doesn’t know anything about this world or anything to do with it. I tend to enjoy movies more that way and I advise everyone to always separate book from movie for a better viewing experience. That being said I found the world building in this series fascinating. It takes the ‘special child’ angle that permeates our superhero based culture and looks at it from a different angle; where there is unique there are people that will want to take that away. This takes the Xavier School model and takes it a step further creating not only a sanctuary but a literal pocket in time where the rest of the world cannot touch them. The implications of this are interesting even if the movie doesn’t spend too much time acknowledging them.
The thing that took me a little by surprise was that this film does take place in the modern era. I only watched the first and second trailer and I was surprised to see that the first third of the movie takes place in the present day. It made for odd pacing as I found myself waiting for the titular peculiar children to turn up. The film overall had an odd pacing as it spent a bit too long on its own premise. There is a lot of exposition here and it slowed large sections of the movie down. They weren’t enough to break it by far but they were enough to make the runtime feel a lot longer than it actual was.
If the odd pacing wasn’t enough the issue with tone was even worse. There were moments that were oddly gruesome and lead me to think that I didn’t really know what audience this movie was shooting for. It’s a PG-13 which sounds about right but the tonal shifts were a bit too much to make me think that preteens could really get into it. The older teens and fellow Burton apologists are likely going to love it and based on aesthetic alone it’s quite fascinating to watch.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children might not be the return to greatness that Burton fans wanted it to be but it does prove that he’s a much better director than storyteller. A less clunky story could have elevated it from ‘good’ to ‘great’ but as a visual experience it certainly pops.