Tim Burton’s latest film Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children topped the box office its opening weekend. But is it really all it’s cracked up to be?
Based on the 2011 novel by Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children follows young Jake (Asa Butterfield), a friendless teenager with a glum home life, on his whimsical yet trying journey toward self-discovery. Inspired by his beloved grandfather’s tall tales of Miss Peregrine (Eva Green) and her secluded home for children with special abilities, Jake travels from his hometown in Florida to Wales in search of the truth. There he finds a world of wonder and sense of belonging that had previously seemed impossible. But in order to preserve that feeling and Miss Peregrine’s home, Jake and the peculiar children he’s made friends with must first find the heroes within themselves.
At first glance, the film appears to have all the earmarks of a Tim Burton classic. At its core, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a fantastically dark story that explores the underbelly of what it means to be a child in this world, especially if that child is different. The story calls upon each peculiar child to be a hero in his or her own right and it’s that kind of human storytelling, coupled with embellished sets and backdrops, that often tips Burton’s efforts off the emotional scales. In this case, however, there’s one key thing missing: heart.
The film itself feels both too long and quite rushed–as if the audience is receiving too much information to process at once. There are quite a few false starts in the film and, with each one, it becomes more difficult to tell when the adventure is going to begin. Nor do we really know when it’ll end.
And while the film tries to stir the audience with a half-promising love story between Jake and a peculiar girl as well as the sadness that resides within some of the children, it never fully delivers. There’s always a hint of mystery surrounding Miss Peregrine and her charge of strange children. Although the audience gets glimpses of their stories here and there, we’re never allowed to connect with each one, making it almost impossible to truly root for them.
Overall, the film feels hollow and it doesn’t quite drive home the overarching message that even those of us who are different can be heroes.
But Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children wasn’t all below average. Tim Burton, as always, creates a world that is as full as the one we live in. Visually, the film is so richly textured that one feels as if they are right there in the action. And the performances, from all actors involved, salvage the film from the inadequacies of the story itself.
Eva Green, who is every inch the star in this film, steals the show with her smoky toned voice and theatrical antics. Samuel L. Jackson, who plays a supporting role, delivers his usual comical wit and exceptional acting ability. And Asa Butterfield and Ella Purnell are both hauntingly Burton-esque, each embodying the doe-eyed and naive characteristics that often define Burton’s work
Tara Martinez is a New York-based writer with a passion for pop culture and a penchant for analysis. She frequently covers film, television, and representations of women in the media.