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"Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children" Review

By Emma O'Leary in Arts & Culture

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Note: This review may contain spoilers.

Tim Burton’s adaptation of “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” tells the story of a teenager named Jake, who travels to a small island off the coast of Wales in search of a children’s home his deceased grandfather told him about. The movie is based on Ransom Riggs’ novel, which includes a range of characters with unique abilities known as  “peculiarities.”

There are some things that Tim Burton does very well: animation and fantasy films, for example. The monsters known as “Hollows” in this movie are very well animated. They do not look fake, and they compliment the spooky nature of the movie very nicely. Similarly, the visual effects of the children’s peculiarities, from the gaping jaw in the back of Claire’s (one of the peculiar children) head, to the bees inside of another child, are very entertaining and life-like. These visual effects are a major part of what makes the movie enjoyable to watch and prevent the audience from getting bored.

The plot itself was a little bit rushed. Within the the first ten minutes of the film someone is killed, a monster appears, and a mysterious message delivered. While it was rushed, the opening scenes certainly hooked the audience. The movie improved from there, introducing the peculiar children and then the action with the Hollows shortly after that. However, the movie worsens as the climax approaches. The plot speeds through the climax of the film, and leaves the viewer trying to catch up with the confusing world of the Peculiar children.

Leading up to the movie’s climax, the plot takes a sinister turn. Despite this, the peculiar children are suddenly in London in 2016 fighting a Hollow who is portrayed by none other than Samuel L. Jackson. Samuel L. Jackson is not a good choice for a straight-faced, somber villain. The movie was rather gloomy up until he opened his mouth and began spewing a bunch of ill-timed jokes that were completely juxtaposed with the mood of the film from five minutes ago.

The suspenseful action turns into a jumble of failed comedy and a life-saving rescue mission. The grim nature of the movie seems to have been left back in Wales, and the final battle scene, which includes an amusement park and a snowball fight, seems so out of context that the viewer wonders what genre the movie is supposed to be. Up until this point, the audience was on the edge of their seats, anxiously watching as the Hollow crawled through the broken window to get to the children, yet the concluding fight scene just left them scratching their heads.

The screenplay is another element that was not up to par with the visual effects and cinematography of the film. The romance between Jake and Emma was so forced and had no buildup whatsoever. Many conversations seemed very forced as well and lacking in emotion.

That brings me to my next point about this movie: Despite the deaths and near-deaths, the battles and time traveling, the actors do not seem shaken up, sad, or surprised in any manner. Asa Butterfield, who plays Jake, is about as emotional as a robot. Also, the characters are two-dimensional, and other than their peculiarities, they show no defining personality traits. “Nice” might be the most descriptive word that a viewer could use to describe Emma’s character, for example. This makes it difficult as a viewer to root for any one character in particular, and since audience feels no emotion for any of the characters, the film quickly loses much of its appeal.

“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” had good potential as the climax of the film drew nearer, yet the end was, simply stated, a let-down. The overall take away? Unless you are a lover of Tim Burton and wondrous visible effects, I would not spend the $9.00 it costs to see this movie.  

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