Movie Review: “Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children”
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Throughout his childhood, Jacob’s (Asa Butterfield) grandfather told him fantastic stories about the mysterious Miss Peregrine and her fascinating home. When his grandfather dies, Jacob makes a discovery that suggests the stories he heard as a child may not have been just fantasies from his grandfather’s imagination. His search for answers leads him to the mysterious home that he had heard about throughout his childhood. Jacob always connected with his grandfather, but his relationship with his father is troubled, and Miss Peregrine’s home may be the perfect escape for him.
Miss Peregrine (Eva Green) runs a home for peculiar children. Each child has a strange ability that would make them an outcast in the ordinary world, but Miss Peregrine has given them a safe place to call home. Unfortunately, dark forces aim to do harm to Miss Peregrine and the children inside. Thus Jacob, and the peculiar children must work together to save Miss Peregrine, one other, and their safe haven.
The Pros & Cons
The Peculiarities (+8pts)
Asa Butterfield (-4pts)
Eva Green (+4pts)
Samuel L. Jackson (-4pts)
World Building & Visuals (+5pts)
Too Long (-4pts)
Pro: The Peculiarities (+8pts)
The peculiarities proved to be very entertaining in this movie. I liked meeting each of the kids in the home and I liked seeing what they were each capable of. Each child has a unique ability (or peculiarity), all of which are utilized well throughout the film. Miss Peregrine’s peculiarity was probably my favorite, but I will get into that one a bit later. While I liked each of the character’s unique abilities, it was when the characters were working together that this movie was at its best.
There are certain fight sequences (specifically towards the end) that I had a lot of fun with. The peculiarities were used in fun, creative ways that I didn't expect. I have seen ensemble super hero movies where the variety of powers were done really well, but the filmmakers of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children did a fantastic job of using the variety of powers creatively. This made for some very entertaining action sequences that I certainly was not expecting. Simply put, the peculiarities were a pleasant surprise that kept me entertained throughout the movie’s duration.
Con: Asa Butterfield (-4pts)
I have seen this kid in other movies, and I liked him in them, but his performance felt very bland in this one. It is not that Asa Butterfield gave a ”bad” performance, he just did not deliver the performance that he needed to. Part of the blame here definitely falls on the director, but regardless of who is at fault, the bland performance made for a bland main character. He has a story that most audiences will relate to, but the bland performance limits how much audiences will care about the character.
Jacob loses a grandparent that he idolized his whole life, and he has a rocky relationship with his father. This makes him feel like he does not belong, and he finds solace in Miss Peregrine’s home. He finds adventure, and he finds a new family that accepts him for who he is (unlike his father). It is a story that is easy to get behind, but it is the performance by the lead actor that can make such a story feel relatable or very compelling. Unfortunately, I did not feel like Asa Butterfield brought anything special to this movie. It was a bland performance that made the character’s story feel somewhat stale.
Pro: Eva Green (+4pts)
I do not think I have seen Eva Green give a bad performance. She is a talented actress and this movie is no exception to that rule. Her character is not given a ton of development because, while she is the titular character, she is not the main character. Jacob is definitely the main character and gets the majority of the film’s focus, but the movie is so much more interesting when Eva Green is on screen, because she gives a very thick layer of mystery to her character (and the movie).
Miss Peregrine is a motherly character that looks after all the children in the house. However, she is much more than a baby sitter or a care taker. Miss Peregrine has a peculiarity of her own, where she can manipulate time. This peculiarity is used in a pretty interesting way, but I felt like the movie only scratched the surface of what this character was capable of. Eva Green played the character in an interesting way that left me wanting to see a lot more. I honestly think this movie would have been a lot better if the story focused on Miss Peregrine, and her responsibility to protect the children. Either way, Eva Green certainly did a great job in her part.
Con: Samuel L. Jackson (-4pts)
This character felt like a waste for Samuel L. Jackson. He is one of those one-dimensional antagonists that is evil only because there needed to be a bad guy in the movie. The character is not interesting in the slightest, which does not make the threat feel impactful. He just feels like a cookie-cutter villain that the protagonists would have to inevitably overcome.
Samuel L. Jackson is an actor that can add tremendous personality to his characters, but I felt like this character held him back. The writers just gave him nothing to sink his teeth into. This, mixed with a bland performance from the lead actor, creates a lack luster antagonist, which then creates a lack luster climax to the story. Movies are only as good as their villains, and this one needed a lot of work.
Pro: World Building & Visuals (+5pts)
Tim Burton brings all his visual mastery to this new adventure. The colors are vibrant, the sets are stunning, and the costumes are over-the-top in the best way. All together, these things create the unique visual style that Tim Burton has become so well known for. His movies are not always the most well received, but he has mastered the visual aspect of filmmaking. This pairs well with the world building, as the fantastic visuals made it easy to get sucked into the fantastic world.
The beginning of the story consisted of a lot of world building, which was fine in this case because it is such a strange, interesting world. Who is Miss Peregrine? What are the children's peculiarities (abilities)? Why are these things important to the main character? I liked learning about what all of the peculiarities were, and it was interesting to see the lifestyle that was created within the home. There was a lot of world building, but I was still left wanting more, which is a testament to how interesting I found this world to be.
Con: Too Long (-4pts)
The setup probably took about thirty to forty-five minutes. It was an interesting world that was established, but the filmmakers definitely took way too long to explain Jacob’s origin story. In other words, the filmmakers took way too long to get Jacob to Miss Peregrine’s home. Jacob has a typical story and, as mentioned before, the character comes across as very bland. The fact that we get so much time to see his story before he gets to the mystical home, makes the movie feel very long. The filmmakers just dragged out a section of this story that no one wanted to see, which made the first half of the movie slow, and boring.
Grade: B- (80pts)
Overall I enjoyed this movie, but was not blown away or overly thrilled by it. It was fun, and there were some clever action sequences, but I never felt invested in the main character due to the bland performance from Asa Butterfield (although, as mentioned before, I do not think he is solely to blame). Additionally, the antagonist was lack luster and one-dimensional, and Jacob got a very long, drawn out origin story. This origin story used up a lot of screen time that could have been spent learning more about Miss Peregrine’s home and the children who live there. Tim Burton’s fantastic visual style worked well for the movie, Eva Green gave a fascinatingly mysterious performance, and the peculiarities were fun to see explored in creative ways. It is far from a perfect movie, but the movie kept me entertained (once Jacob finally arrived at the home).