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Since 2011, it has been the modern-day equivalent of Mary Poppins, telling a twisted story of a magical nanny who protects children from the horrors of the outside world. Now, Tim Burton teams up with screenwriter Jane Goldman to adapt Ransom Riggs’ novel to the big screen. The result? Well, I hate to say this: I really wanted to like Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, but just couldn’t. When your movie requires lots of frightening imagery unsuitable to the nine-year-old’s innocent mind, then this type of story should remain on paper.
The opening credits already warn us of the type of movie we are about to watch: newspaper clippings are shown of the peculiar children, including one little girl with super strength and two twins who dress like clowns. Everything that follows from here is an occasional terrifying scene held together by scenes that add little enjoyment or emotion.
This story revolves around Jake, played by Asa Butterfield (The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Hugo), a teenage boy as dull and pathetic as his on-screen believability. He wants to be an explorer, but is too chicken. Yes, I know. It sounds just like every other child protagonist ever doesn’t it? His closest relationship in his Florida home is his dementia-struck grandfather, who told stories to him growing up about these peculiar children. It’s the only type of love he can get, as his father is too much of a jerk to pay any attention to his son, not like I cared about any of these characters.
But then he and his father are forced onto a trip to a Welsh island where Miss Peregrine is said to house these peculiar children. Basically it starts when a mysterious creature gouges out grandpa’s eyes. It’s a terrifying sight, but it’s not like the situation itself is heart-stopping or anything.
Anyway, they get to the island, which does in fact feel appropriately cold with its cool colors and striking backlights, thanks to cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel (Amélie, Inside Llewyn Davis). On this island, he time travels by cave back to 1943 when these peculiar children were still living in the currently abandoned mansion run by Miss Peregrine. From here, you’d expect the movie to finally get started with the mystifying peculiarity promised in the trailer. Well, it does for the first fifteen minutes when we are introduced to the kids, but everything else after that just falls under the usual kid’s movie format that is dumbed down too much for teens and adults to handle. Which leads into my next complaint...
...Which is the unfortunate fate of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children to receive a PG-13 rating despite its clear targeting towards anyone under the age of 11. I would in no way call this suitable for kids, as the images of children with teeth at the back of their head and putting hearts into inanimate objects to bring them to life are the product of nightmares. But it’s not just that, but an invisible boy walks around naked, and there is plenty of talk of Nazi Germany sending bombs onto the island; definitely not suitable subjects for children!
In fact, I don’t know of anyone who will enjoy this film, as the quality of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children otherwise is below average. None of the actors stand out in any way, the CGI is worse than Suicide Squad, and the children are not given anywhere near the amount of screentime they deserve.
I also have a gripe against the way the main problems in this movie are solved. Basically, by the third act, the kids get themselves to the villain’s hideaway in the most unbelievable way that feels uncomfortably similar to Battlefield Earth. Then after they get to the island, believe it or not, their solution to fighting the bad guys involves throwing junk at them as if we’re watching Home Alone 6. I’m sorry, but when your climax involves a “kids outsmart the grown-ups“ concept like that, you’re asking for trouble.
If this movie was suitable for anybody, I’d say it is best for teenagers after they got high off of the hottest pot they could cook up, so that they can watch the disturbing images of bad actors in peculiar situations with laughs all around. It sounds a bit harsh to say, but after looking at the marketing of this film and the rating it received from the MPAA, that’s the truth.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Common Sense Media. Web. <https://www.commonsensemedia.org/>.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. 20th Century Fox. Web. <http://www.foxmovies.com/movies/miss-peregrines-home-for-peculiar-children>.