Magazine article Screen International

'Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children': Review

Magazine article Screen International

'Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children': Review

Article excerpt

Dir: Tim Burton. US. 2016. 127mins

Peculiarity has been a speciality of Tim Burton's films for a while now - but so has an overly gimmicky, cutesy approach to his characters' fantastical worlds. Both tendencies hold true in Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children, a familiar mixture of adolescent angst, lavish visuals, dark humour and tiresome whimsy. Based on the bestselling 2011 young-adult novel, this tale of an X-Men-like group of misfits with supernatural powers seems tailor-made for Burton's brand of quirkiness - which may explain why the proceedings feel so formulaic.

Premiering at Fantastic Fest before hitting major markets on September 30, this Fox release will court viewers on the strength of Burton's commercial track record. Eva Green, Asa Butterfield and Samuel L. Jackson should also be a box-office bonus, but Peculiar Children's greatest asset is that it will be the lone fantasy offering on the schedule for a few weeks, the studio no doubt hoping it's got a four-quadrant Harry Potter-esque film that could pave the way for sequels.

Adapted from the novel by Ransom Riggs, who published a follow-up in 2014, Peculiar Children stars Butterfield as Jake, a Florida teen living in the present day who discovers that his seemingly ordinary existence is far more complicated than he realised. After receiving a cryptic warning from his dying grandfather (Terence Stamp), Jake ventures to a remote Welsh island to find a dilapidated mansion that, in reality, exists in a magical 24-hour loop in which it's always September 3, 1943. Meeting Miss Peregrine (Green), the home's caretaker, Jake is introduced to her wards, all of whom have incredible powers.

At a time when comic book movies clog the release calendar, Peculiar Children's notion of outcasts grappling with superpowers is hardly novel - and that's to say nothing of franchises such as Harry Potter and The Matrix in which an everyday protagonist learns he's destined for great things.

But there's always room for new twists to narrative clichés, which is why it's even more troublesome that Burton oversaw this adaptation. From Beetlejuice to Edward Scissorhands to Dark Shadows to his feature-length Frankenweenie, the filmmaker has cornered the market on sympathetic, slightly spiky portraits of weirdos who aren't comfortable in "traditional" society. …

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