Tim Burton’s signature style isn’t enough to save the Peculiar Children from their ultimate destiny
Ramson Riggs’ favorite novels have found the right director for the job or so we though. Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children should be right up Burton’s alley. Burton’s characters are usually nothing shy of peculiar. Remember Sweeney Todd, Beetlejuice, and Edward Scissorhands – yes, well then showcasing peculiar children on screen and adapting their story should be no problem, right? Wrong.
The scenes of foggy gothic forest set an eerie and unsettling atmosphere from the outset as a recount of the terrible tragedy that happened to his grandfather is being painted to the audience. Sitting in a psychologist’s office, Jake (Asa Butterfield), a kid struggling with a mental illness, has to find closure from this tragedy. Remembering the quirky stories his grandfather used to tell him, he goes on a quest to find out more about these stories. Bringing him into a sublime visually stunning gothic setting, there lies a home for children with special abilities. Stuck in the 1940s, Jake realizes that the stories may not be fake after all.
A bizarre Miss Peregrine (Eva Green) runs this home for peculiar children and each of them are well realized. Living in this house are Emma (Ella Purnell), a girl that is ‘lighter than air,’ a little girl with a mouth behind her head (Pixie Davies) and Enoch (Finlay MacMilan), a guy who can control things with hearts. Using his signature, Tim Burton creates some of the most bizarrely captivating characters. As usual, the wardrobe and the makeup mixed with the personalities all help to bring these peculiar people to life. Add in the stunning visuals and the unsettling atmosphere and Burton’s flying high.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, the film gets too bizarre for its own good. A fight between skeletons and monsters happens in a colorful amusement park setting to a techno-pulsing beat. An abrupt tonal shift that shatters the whole atmosphere the movie builds and that results in a quick loss of Burton-esque feel that made the beginning such fun. Not only does it change its tone, but Miss Peregrine falls prey to young adult clichés. The awkward love stories/love triangle, the jealous boy who loves the girl and the whole too inept to kill the villain tropes are becoming tiresome and more apparent as the movie continues. Struggling to finish, Burton desperately tries to loop you back into the magical beginnings, but ultimately fails to do so in a compelling way.
By the end, it loses all its magic that nothing can be reclaimed but memories of the first half. Still, some effective moments can be preserved and ultimately Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children isn’t a total disaster. However, you still wish to have the continued with the more captivating start than the disastrous ending.