Directed by Tim Burton and based on the popular book by Ransom Riggs. Jacob (Asa Butterfield) discovers clues to a mystery that stretches across time which leads him to find a home full of children with special abilities, run by Miss Peregrine (Eva Green) but soon learns that they are all in danger. Also starring: Ella Purnell, Finlay MacMillan, Samuel L. Jackson, Allison Janney, Chris O’Dowd, Terence Stamp, Judi Dench and Rupert Everett.
Tim Burton has had a less than stellar run of films as of late, although Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz are fantastic in Big Eyes, it doesn’t make up for the less than wonderful Frankenweenie and Dark Shadows but an adaptation of this particular book seemed perfect for Burton. If you’re ever looking for an elderly gentleman who looks vaguely threatening and sounds mysterious, you go for Terrence Stamp which is exactly what he does here, peaking Jacob’s curiosity to persuade him into investigating his grandfather’s seemingly unbelievable past. Then O’Dowd is on hand to be the ever bumbling man, in this case father, who doesn’t believe in such things and just wants his son to be normal but Jacob has other plans. Convincing his father to take him to England to seek out the truth, where he meets Emma (Purnell) and suddenly has extra reason to stick around, who takes him to meet the infamous Miss Peregrine who was perfectly cast, Green is absolutely stunning in this role, her fast talking, quick witted, intelligent but fierce portrayal is fantastic and a highlight of the film.
As the danger emerges, in the form of Hollows and lead by Jackson, who’s generally what you’d expect, this isn’t new territory for him and though it’s not inherently bad, it isn’t particularly exciting either. The same really goes for Butterfield, this isn’t a stellar performance for him, it’s predictable and slightly boring but it’s still enough to lead the film. The unusual nature of the film and the children’s different and unique powers definitely give the film a charm, but it’s something softer and not as sharp and energetic as Burton’s shown us before, it feels more like playing it safer. It simply just doesn’t have that trademark Burton atmosphere and it’s lesser for it, this feels much more like Dark Shadows than it does Edward Scissorhands or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, much more mainstreamed and commercialised for a wider audience. With the exception of one particular scene while in Blackpool which is a clear nod to the great Ray Harryhausen.
It’s a fun film, if slightly long but it is written well which is no surprise as it was adapted by Jane Goldman (Kick-Ass, X-Men Days of Future Past, Kingsman: The Secret Service) and is entertaining. It doesn’t quite reach it’s peculiar potential and is missing that signature Burton style and Butterfield was a rather unoriginal choice of lead, who doesn’t do much to change that impression. As a whole, it is worth watching but it’s not one you’re going to be in that much of a rush to return to.