Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children (2016)

DVD Cover (Twentieth Century Fox)
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Overall Rating 67%
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When Jacob discovers clues to a mystery that spans different worlds and times, he finds a magical place known as 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... and their powerful enemies. Ultimately, Jacob discovers that only his own special "peculiarity" can save his new friends. --IMDb
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Review by Crispy
Added: March 25, 2017
When a new movie comes out, I like to go in knowing as little as possible. With Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, I didn't know anything but the title. I wasn't too intrigued by it, to be honest, but a buddy of mine wanted to see it. Turns out, I was pleasantly surprised.

When Jake was a small boy, his grandfather Abe would regale him from tales of his own youth. Tales of a children's home in Wales where his friends had some amazing abilities. Siblings Victor and Bronwyn are amazingly strong, Millard is invisible, Emma was so light she had to wear lead boots to keep her from floating away. Even the headmistress, Mrs. Peregrine, had the ability to transform into a bird. Abe would lead the charge against giant monsters with no eyes and tentacles coming out of their head. This was all well and good until Jake told the story to his classmates and was laughed out of the school. Jake was devastated to learn they were made up. Over the next six years, the bond they shared was never fully restored and life took a turn for both of them; Abe ended up in an old folks' home and Jake went through high school invisibly. Still, the boy is none too happy to find his grandfather outside with his eyes missing, and a ten foot tall creature lurking in the shadows. Naturally ending up seeing a therapist after this, she suggests that a trip to Wales to see the children's home for himself.

I'll tell you, I haven't really enjoyed a Tim Burton movie since Sweeney Todd. I've said this many times before, but for the last fifteen years or so, he's just been a caricature of himself, trying way too hard to be Tim Burton. The crooked architecture, the stripes, the black filters. Hell, even Sweeny Todd had those traits in spades if we're being honest. Fortunately, Miss Peregrine's Home left those in the past, and Burton was finally able to move on and just make a movie. I hope this was as refreshing for the filmmaker as it was for me, and he keeps the trend going. While I'm on the subject, there are a lot of similarities between this and his 2003 film Big Fish. While I can't say I really remember it, I do remember not being impressed with it. So, in a way, this is two redemptions in one.

Now that he's gotten out of his own way, Burton was free to tell his adventure with all the important elements. And that's what it was: a fun little adventure. Half the fun of the movie isn't even the story unfolding, it's exploring this new world where these kids have amazing magical abilities and are hiding somewhere in space and time. Much like Harry Potter, it's the kind of world I want to know more about, even if it doesn't necessarily involve the main characters. That's not to say that the movie slouches in the characters and story of its own tale. Watching Jake's realization that his mundane life is actually so much more may not be the most original story, but I've always said that tropes exist for a reason. It provides just the growth needed to keep the movie entertaining. You can say the same thing about the children themselves. Children with various powers are inherently interesting in themselves, but some of the more important characters here are able to differentiate themselves as characters beyond their powers. Naturally, while it does make for an entertaining ninety minutes, I've alluded that it's somewhat lazy storytelling. Honestly, I'm just happy that Burton was able to break away from his self-imposed shackles and tell that simple story. With that said, there are some other problems here. Most of the children don't get near enough development and that time travel sub-plot that doesn't begin to hold water. It does bring the overall quality down a few notches, but I still had a lot of fun with it.

In the lead role of Jake, Asa Butterfield left quite a bit to be desired. Even factoring in the character's lack of charisma, I'm still not able to describe his performance as anything other than wooden. Fortunately, his costars carried him decently enough. Love interest Ella Purnell handled her character's range quite well, even if it is with an English reservation. Eva Green was great as the titular Miss Peregrine; through her mien and demeanor, she was clearly a competent and knowledgeable mentor for these children. And then there's Samuel L. Jackson. On the one hand, he played the same angry, black man he's been doing for the last few years, but it was different here. It was sillier, more playful. It was obvious he was having a ball with this role, yet he was still able to put the unspoken menace into his performance that's integral to playing a good villain.

There are two sequels to the novel and I can only hope this one did well enough to warrant getting them onto the big screen. I absolutely want more of Miss Peregrine and her brood. 7/10.
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