Once Tim Burton was revered for his innovative filmmaking style that managed to find the beauty in the bizarre. Films like Edward Scissorshands, Ed Wood and Big Fish showcased the eccentric directors talent making you buy into things so absurd by finding a way to make them real and relatable. Lately though the Beetlejuice director has had rough go at it on the big screen which saw Dark Shadows flop and critically acclaimed work like Big Eyes fail to find an audience or awards attention. Some thought the king of cinema weird had lost his innovative strange touch and his best days were behind him as a director, but Burton is out to prove the doubters wrong with a movie adaptation of Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children. A story seemingly perfect for the uncanny filmmaker.
Based on the novel by Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is a globetrotting adventure that jumps through time and centers on a school for peculiar children. A term bestowed on the young students with extraordinary abilities who live in secrecy. The super humans include the elegant Emma (Ella Purnell) who controls air, the kitchen glove wearing Olive (Lauren McCrostie) who has the gift of fire and the headmistress herself Miss Peregrine with the ability to control time plus a neat little trick where she can turn into a bird. Sent by his grandfather who once guarded the school, a high school student from Florida named Jake (Asa Butterfield) travels to the mysterious Island in Whales looking to protect the unusual group from other peculiars who have evil intentions.
If you read the last paragraph and said to yourself “This sounds really familiar”, that’s because Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children rips off X-Men and to a lesser extent Harry Potter, which were both written long before the book this movie is based on. The movie definitely has a been there, done that feeling to it with children hiding their powers from the public eye, only to use them to save themselves and the people they care about. Tim Burton brings his lovable freakish directing style to the film, which had been sorely missed in his recent work. It’s fun to see the kids showing off their powers, but its hard not to deduct major points for originality when the work clearly takes its inspiration from Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters.
Tim Burton makes up for the uninspired and confusing material involving time travel, but there’s nothing he can do about his leading man problems. Asa Butterfield shows no improvement from his previous dull role in Ender’s Game and brings down the overall experience in Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children. This guy is meeting all these exceptional children with abilities and he keeps the same unimpressed look on his face throughout the film. Butterfield lacks the charisma needed as the hero of this story. Burton creates a beautiful world full of amazing individuals in Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, but it can’t make up for lack of originality and an uninspired lead in the form of Asa Butterfield .
Overall, I give Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children 2.5 out of 4 stars.
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