Friday, September 30, 2016 marks the official US theatrical release of Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, the highly-anticipated film from director Tim Burton, based on the 2011 novel of the same name by author Ransom Riggs. Nerd Nation Magazine was in attendance for the advance press screening Thursday, September 22, 2016 courtesy of 20th Century Fox, Allied Marketing, and Regal Cinemas.
But with such anticipation for its release, how did the film measure up?
Read on to find out for yourselves!
Set first in modern day Florida, Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children follows the story of 16-year-old Jake Portman (Asa Butterfield of Hugo and BBC’s Merlin), a young misfit boy who after his grandfather mysteriously dies, travels to Wales to seek out answers from those who knew him best. What Jake doesn’t know, however, is that he is about to step into a strange new world filled with some of the most unusual and unbelievable people he has ever known… and that perhaps his grandfather, who had a penchant for telling amazing, unbelievable stories, wasn’t making any of these stories up after all. He travels into a sort of time paradox portal which takes him to a constant loop of the same day (in the same town in Wales) in 1940 where he meets Miss Peregrine (Eva Green of Penny Dreadful and Dark Shadows) an extraordinary woman who acts as caretaker of a home for “peculiar” children – individuals born with strange and incredible abilities – who takes him in, and begins to help him understand what really happened. But when things take a turn for the worse due to some sinister outside forces, Jake must band together with his new friends to fight off the monsters and keep the world safe.
The film is amazingly well shot, with very pronounced dark, spooky undertones so common in all of Burton‘s films. This is a perfect aesthetic for this story, and plays very well alongside the WWII 1940s Welsh setting, odd characters, and creepy, otherworldly monsters. The noticable changes in both wardrobe and score as we shift between past and present are exceptionally well done, the effects and acting performances are a bit ham-fisted and at times over the top, although perfectly acceptable given the context that this is, for all intents and purposes, a kids movie. Asa Butterfield comes off as a very bland, rather wooden, overly typical “everykid”character without much depth or relatability as Jake (which may or may not have been intentional), yet Eva Green puts on an absolutely incredible performance as the enigmatic and powerful yet kindhearted Miss Peregrine. Samuel L. Jackson (of the Avengers franchise, Pulp Fiction, etc) also turns in a very respectable performance as Mr. Barron – the evil lunatic leader of the Wights and Hollows – with a very creepy, sinister, and menacing presence, if a bit overblown for occasional comedic relief. Again, this is a kids movie, so I’m not going to harp too much on that.
Now, full disclosure for you dear readers out there, this writer has not read the book, so I can’t give any actual comparison one way or another about that, however my better half who accompanied me to the advance screening has and said that quite a few things – including a few major characters – were greatly changed in the film adaptation. Again, I can’t really speak on that, so if you’re a fan of the book (which yes, I do plan to read as soon as possible) enter at your own risk.
The Bottom Line:
Overall, Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is a really fun little movie. It wasn’t anything earth-shaking, nor was it anything particularly special, but it was well shot, well made, mostly well acted, and just an enjoyable “spooky cute” film that will undoubtedly fit well into Tim Burton’s resume, as well as find its place among other such Fall movie nights. It’s not perfect by any stretch, nor does it have to be, but for what it is, it absolutely delivers. – 7.5/10
Editor/Staff Writer: Nerd Nation Magazine