I’m not known to always talk about directors as much as other film critics do. While several critics talk about the director in each of their reviews, I typically don’t even bring them up unless they are known specifically for their work – people like Spielberg, Abrams, Shyamalan, Whedon, and of course, Tim Burton. Burton is specifically of interest since his films are always touch-and-go for me. I hate Sweeney Todd while I love a few of his other films – but nothing is absolute or decided beforehand. So before seeing Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, I knew nothing about the story. I never read the books, I didn’t watch the trailers for it…I just knew it existed and that it was Tim Burton. So how did it do? Well, let’s get into it.
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. Written by 20th Century Fox (IMDb)
The opening of this film reminds me of another Tim Burton film – Big Fish. You have a grandfather telling tall tales of his history with a magical, fantastical place and no one takes him seriously – that is, until the grandson takes a personal interest in the past. The rest of the movie is ultimately original but still reminds anyone of the X-Men and Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. In general, this concept is one I can get behind. It is original, it is magical, it is filled with unique characters that you have the potential to love, all of which are perfect elements for Tim Burton…so it has a lot going for it…except for one small thing – Asa Butterfield.
The protagonist in this film is played by Asa Butterfield, which you should know from Ender’s Game, Hugo, or even the upcoming flick, The Space Between Us. Without a doubt, Butterfield is an up and coming actor in Hollywood, yet…I feel as if this was probably his weakest performance. It wasn’t outwardly bad, but it lacked a lot of purpose and uniqueness that every other character had. He was bland, he doesn’t do anything, he’s just there as a tool to keep the story going…and I’m hesitant to say it probably would have gone on just fine without him.
The last film I reviewed was Ouija: Origin of Evil – and the reason I bring this up is because the two films follow a nearly identical structure. They both begin with a pretty decent concept and premise, they both have decent enough characters, but the more the film goes on, the more it feels like its dragging on and going a direction I just wish it wouldn’t. I lost my interest before gaining a little back towards the end, but it again makes me question how great it really was.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is original, visually impressive, contains a cast of characters that you ultimately enjoy – but it tangles itself up the more the film goes on, and like the coming disaster of Christmas decorations…sometimes it’s just easier to get new lights than to untangle the mess it got itself in. That being said, I think it did a fine job with what it was attempting to do – it just wasn’t my thing at the end. Check it out!