Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children plays like a ‘Best of Hits’ Platinum Album of Hollywood’s favourite and sometimes disturbingly repetitive goth-fanboy auteur – Tim Burton. Tim Burton: lover of blue hues, skeletons, white face paint and gorgeous bleak surroundings is back with a tale that’s as magical as it’s well ‘Burtonesque’. Tim Burton is to goth aesthetics what Tom Cruise is to missions involving saving the planet.
Never before has there been a more snug fit of the director and the material he is playing with. I can only imagine how many sleepless nights of repeating ‘Let’s drop the ball on this’ must it have taken for Tim Burton to have truly redeemed himself from what was beginning to look like a slumpy and lumpy career downslide given his last few lacklustre cinematic outings. There was a time when Burton made brave movies with themes that were considered too dark to be children’s movies. It’s also the reason why he fell out with Disney and branched out on his own. Burton used to be an animator with Disney during the golden era of animation.
After years and years of making movies with Helena Bonham Carter and Johnny Depp in white face paint looking either perplexed or frightened, it seems Tim Burton has found his mojo once again with this film.
It’s scary. It’s bleak. It’s just the right amount of Tim Burton. Don’t burn the toast.
I bet you there’s a drunk English guy named Edmund Brown sitting a bar somewhere in South Wales shouting ‘That Burton fellow is a proper tosser for making my country look like Guillermo Del Toro’s nightmare palace’. Moving on. The British Isles and Wales’ coastline has never looked this isolated and haunting on film and that’s to Burton’s credit along with much more.
A young lad comes to terms with the loss of a loved one through tales of monsters and time loops in an unexpected adventure that involves an orphanage for children with gifts and Eva Green in a role that almost felt like a lost audition tape to Mary Poppins. Where does his adventure take him? Who are these people? What are their gifts? I won’t ruin that for you the way a friend of mine once ruined the John Snow aspect of Game of Thrones for me. We are no longer friends.
Let me just take a moment here to talk about how cracklin’ Eva Green is as Miss Peregrine. She can turn into a bird and has a stopwatch to make the new iWatch look like a plastic toy snake with an opinion that no one cares about. Green is a sight to behold in a role that should have just been another sleepy rendition of a prim and proper and uppity British lady. But no, Green rises to the material and is magnetic. Let is be stated for the record that I vouch for Eva Green as the perfect fit for the role of Mary Poppins in Disney’s remake. I think she would be damn perfect for the role.
The young protagonist – Jake (a pretty generic by the numbers piece of casting) Asa Butterfield is pretty dour and dry but he’s not the focus of this tale (even if the makers would have you believe so). Jake makes a few extraordinary friends and enemies as he jumps between timelines only to reveal a larger sinister plot that will probably affect his world as it stands. Ella Purnell has a depth to her eyes in the more emotional scenes and is a talent to look out for. The rest of the cast – Samuel L. Jackson included lends able support. Also, I lied about him not being the focus of the tale. Someone needs to give Asa Butterfield some buttermilk with salted crackers.
Does Jake have it in him to discover his inner hero and save the day with his motley band of misfits? Who is after them and why are they in trouble?
As clichéd as the story sounds, what works here isn’t just the characters or the spectacle. What works here truly is the mood and little story nuances and world building that makes this movie a deep dive in Burton’s highly mature and gorgeous goth induced fantasies – again.
Evenly paced with just the right amount of peculiar, this is a great family film to enjoy over the weekend with a vintage vibe to the old Burton – The bold Burton and the not so tame Burton!