Film Review – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016)

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A marginalised and beleaguered teen, with a secret and a burden, journeys to a school for similarly-jilted children, each bearing an incredible gift or power as they battle to fight a malevolent cabal of villains, affronted at their existence and hell-bent on wiping them out. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, comic book fans.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children could well be called “Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters“, such is the immediate similarity of the concept to the popular, long-running Marvel product. But Miss Peregrine’s, to be fair, is no facsimile; an adaptation of a pioneering children’s photography book, it blends horror, sci-fi and romance along with a romping, time travel story juggling numerous balls at once. Too many balls, if I’m honest. Miss Peregrine’s goes for broke, aiming for C.S. Lewis-esque complexity and charm, but coming away looking like somebody dropped a giant bag of marbles all over the school disco dance floor. I’m pretty sure there’s a good 85-minute movie in here, the trouble is the whole thing lasts nearly 130 disorganised and jumbled minutes.
After he finds his grandfather dying and missing his eyes, young Floridian Jake (Asa Butterfield) travels to rural Wales to visit a mysterious school that appears to be the inspiration for his Grandfather’s wild stories. Journeying through a time portal, Jake discovers the school is host to a small group of “peculiar” children, living under the guidance of their tutor Miss Peregrine (Eva Green) permanently in a 24-hour time loop that plays out the same day in 1943 for eternity.

Welcome horror elements arrive in the second half as Samuel L. Jackson unleashes his Slender Man style minions upon the school and some, if not all, hell breaks loose. There are enough flourishes of diet gothic horror and creepiness to ensure that it’s not a total drag, but you have to sit through a fair amount of dross to get to the good stuff. With a first half that moves slower than a snail through treacle and a final act twist that leaves you scratching your head, Miss Peregrine’s feels very much like a lot of recent Tim Burton stuff: half-hearted and sporadically entertaining. The sort of thing you suspect a young Tim Burton would have chastised himself for.

[rating=3] | Chris Banks

Fantasy, Adventure | USA, 2016 | 12A | 20th Century Fox Pictures | 30th September 2016 (UK) | Dir.Tim Burton | Eva Green, Asa Butrterfield, Samuel L.Jackson, Judi Dench, Allison Janney, Ella Purnell