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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is the latest film from visionary director Tim burton based on the popular series of children’s books by Ransom Riggs. It’s about…..well, there’s really no way to briefly summarize the plot, which basically explains the biggest problem with this film.
Jake (Asa Butterfield) is an awkward Florida teenager who’s underwhelming life’s only bright spot are the tall tales told to him as a young boy by his imaginative grandfather, Abe (Terrence Stamp). While babysitting Jake, Abe told stories of his time spent in Wales at a school for children with special abilities, or preferably named “peculiar” children. It is at this school where Abe fought monsters for the war, befriended a girl who has to wear lead shoes or she will float away with the wind, as well as a boy who has bees buzz in his head. After a tragedy, Jake’s father grant Jake’s wish to visit Wales, so he can have a better sense of what his grandfather was trying to convey with his stories. Jake sneaks off and eventually finds the elusive school and meets the famous Miss Peregrine (Eva Green) and her colorful students. Somehow, some way it comes to light that the school is in imminent danger, and this is where they lose me.
It is hard to translate books to film, and it is even harder to translate children’s fantasy books to film. Mr. Burton has not provided us with an exception to the rule. The first half of this movie is extremely choppy. For example, the opening scene is supposed to establish how awkward and meaningless Jake’s life is prior to his adventure. This character development lasts for exactly three or four lines. Jake attends therapy sessions, presumably to address his meaningless life, and which also play bigger role later in the film, but this scene also consists of a few lines. His character undergoes an arc, where he supposed to transition from being timid to a leader, but you do not feel that shift. He’s supposed to be a hero, but his behavior illustrates that he is still kind of loser.
The students are some really cool characters with some really great abilities, but they simply are not featured enough. Screen time is given to a couple of students, but the most interesting ones probably were not focused on because their abilities would have allowed the plot to be resolved within about 30 minutes.
Tim Burton is an extraordinary visionary director. This movie is beautiful to look at, the special effects are great. The tone of the film is dark without being grim. The problem with this film is that it is extremely confusing. Samuel L. Jackson is the main villain. He has crazy gray hair, razor sharp teeth and crazy eyes. He has a couple of funny lines and seems to be enjoying himself. But what was his motivation for terrorizing these people?
Some kids will probably enjoy Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children because it’s visually stimulating enough to follow along, but if they are they are the type children who attempt to do things such as understand what’s going on and ask questions about things they don’t understand, then this is not the movie for them.