When his beloved grandfather Abe (Terence Stamp) leaves Jake (Asa Butterfield) clues to a mystery that spans different worlds and times, he finds a magical place known as Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children. But the mystery and danger deepen as he gets to know the residents and learns about their special powers, and their terrifying enemies. Ultimately, Jake discovers that only his own special peculiarity can save his new friends. Based on the novel “Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children,” written by Ransom Riggs.
Anytime that there is a film about special children, there will always be comparisons to the X-Men series. Sure, I haven’t read the book in which it is based (I never do) but those X-Men vibes and that Tim Burton was directing got me interested in this film that will inevitably be the start of another franchise. While this may seem like it could be for young kids, it’s really not as some of the film’s elements may be scary to some.
The film may be called Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children but it is really about a boy named Jake (Butterfield) and his devotion to his grandfather Abe (Stamp). After Abe passes away under mysterious circumstances, Jake begins to wonder if his Abe’s stories were really true and if they made have played a role in his fate. As Abe began to develop dementia, the validity of his stories were put into question thus adding distance between him and Jake. Watching this relationship being played out on screen was the most compelling part of the film.
In order for Jake to move on, he suggests to his parents (Kim Dickens and Chris O’Dowd) that he visits one of the places from one of Abe’s stories which of course was Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.Things are not the way Jake expected as the home, at least as he saw it today, was in ruins. The secret to their survival was that Miss Peregrine (Eva Green) and her children lived in a time loop, forcing them to relive September 3rd, 1943 over and over again. With these new discoveries, Jake learns that his grandfather’ stories may be plausible after all. Despite hearing about all of this through Abe’s stories, there was still a sense of wonder as Jake was seeing the characters of his stories for the first time.
The world that was created for the film was very beautiful, full of vibrant color and detail. It achieved this through the use of cinematography which captured the film’s whimsical nature and atmosphere and through the use of costumes. Even the special effects, bringing each child’s peculiarities to life were well done. While the film relies heavily on these visuals, they sometimes distracted from the story. The story itself was about Jack reconnecting with Abe through Miss Peregrine and her children. Jack, Miss Peregrine, and the children also had to deal with the hollowgasts and their leader Mr. Barron (Samuel L. Jackson). He was a menacing enough foe but he could have also used some fleshing out will also probably come. While it would have been nice to learn more about the world, this will inevitably be covered more in any other inevitable films. While they were obviously setting this up as a franchise, it would have been nice if they had payed more attention to this film.
The acting was very good throughout with Green leading the way as Miss Peregrine. She brings charm and believability to the role. Butterfield was okay as Jake but his occasional overacting did not fit with the film’s mostly dark nature. What saved this was the chemistry the two had which made them great to watch together. The acting from the other peculiars was good and they had great chemistry with Green and Butterfield but their characters were pretty much relegated to the background. Jackson was okay as Barron but he just came of as a little too cheesy.
Overall, this was still a fun fantasy film with good visuals and performances, creating a world full of promise which wasn’t utilized as much as it should have.