Finally! A movie that doesn’t adhere to the bland, pandering, mindless, clichéd pattern of 2016 kids films! Even if you don’t like Tim Burton’s style, every time he releases a movie you can expect it to be a refreshing change of pace. Much like, Christopher Nolan, I look forward to what Burton makes because (with the exception of 2010’s Alice in Wonderland) it will be inventive and different (even if it is atrociously different). What we have today is a movie that is flawless on most levels except the story; the most important element.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is directed by Tim Burton and written by Jane Goldman. Stars-Asa Butterfield, Eva Green, Ella Purnell, Terrence Stamp, and Samuel L. Jackson. Premise-A boy named Jake pursues his grandfather’s bedtime story of a home for peculiar children. However, the fable may not be as impossible (or as pleasant) as he thought.
It would be easy to pick on Mr. Burton and blame him for all the movie’s mishaps, but that would be very cliché and completely undeserved. Everything wrong with Miss Peregrine is in the screenplay, which is a shame because this is one of the best put-together films of 2016. The sets match the various settings (and time periods) of the movie, the cast is filled with personality and charm, the music (not done by Danny Elfman for once) is beautiful, and Bruno Delbonnel’s cinematography is top notch. By the way, the F/X in this movie are probably the best I’ve seen in the theater since Interstellar.
I have not read the book this movie was based on, but I can tell you that it has some inspiring creativity! The plot of Miss Peregrine is filled with potential, but for some reason it was all lost. Jane Goldman wrote Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class, and Kingsman: The Secret Service. While those films are undeniably fun, they are filled with little plotholes and dumb character choices; the same goes for Miss Peregrine. Exposition in this movie is insultingly obvious, and the moral is “don’t be normal” which is a clichéd a heck moral, especially in 2016, where being different/weird is encouraged like never before. Some people will take issue with the lead character’s (Jake) slightly bland personality, but there is a perfectly logical explanation. Think of Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter, and Percy Jackson. Each of them come from an incomplete family, they are not content with their (oftentimes) boring lifestyle, they are all white, each of them are youth, and they discover that they are “the chosen one” with special powers. Keep in mind, I love each of these characters, but you have to admit that this pattern has reason behind it. That’s why the fan favorites are not the lead characters, it’s because Han Solo, Severus Snape, and (in this case) Miss Peregrine herself have more distinctive personalities. Jake (played by Butterfield) is likeable, but allows the audience to be in his shoes so they can experience the environment. And oh, what an environment it is!
I have to applaud Burton for holding back with his style. Typically, his films are very darkly colored, contain adult ensembles, and are filled with Dutch angles. Miss Peregrine is colorful, loaded with charming (and heartbreakingly cute) child actors, and is occasionally very enchanting. What I do find odd is the terrible mix of disturbing imagery and extremely goofy moments. One scene will focus around an awkward love-triangle, then you’ll see children’s eyeballs being ripped out by Slenderman! This problem is especially noticeable during the climax, which is so goofily over the top. Speaking of the climax, there about three of them. Miss Peregrine is one of the worst-paced movies of the year. Despite how simple the premise is, the story gets crowded with backstories and becomes overcomplicated. The movie is 30 minutes longer than it needs to be, there are a thousand twists and subplots, the third act feels like it should have ended three times, and the pace is agonizingly slow. Wanna know how slow it is? I wrote “the pace is slow” twice in my notes while watching the movie.
This movie is miles above other children’s films of the year (Alice Though the looking Glass anyone?) just because of the originality of it, but that can only get you so far before the plotholes completely wreck your vehicle. I would suggest watching it at least once, there is more than enough visual splendor to entertain, but I am still hoping that this month has more to offer in terms of story (Doctor Strange, Inferno, Hacksaw Ridge etc.). Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children gets Guy’s Guru Grade of a B-.
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