Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Disappointing fantasy from director Tim Burton that's sporadically enlivened by a fun turn from Eva Green
On paper the union of director Tim Burton and screenwriter Jane Goldman (The Woman in Black) sounds like a match made in Goth heaven, especially considering the adapted source material is a bestselling fantasy book by Ransom Riggs about a group of outsider children with special powers who are stuck in a time loop in 1940. Unfortunately something seems to have gone wrong in the mix, making what should have played out like an eccentric variation on the X-Men disappointing and formulaic.
Thank goodness then for Eva Green as the protective Miss Alma LeFay Peregrine, who spends her time sucking on a pipe like Basil Rathbone's Sherlock Holmes. Green is exquisite and turns in a fun and memorable performance. Sadly though this isn't her story so she doesn't get as much screen time as Asa Butterfield who, in the leading role of Jake, mostly fades into the background. On leaving the film, it's difficult to remember a single line he utters.
Jake is an introverted teenager left reeling and confused after he finds his grandfather Abe (Terence Stamp) dead with his eyes plucked out, and sees what he thinks is a monster roaming the backwoods of Florida. He seeks counselling for his grief with psychiatrist Dr Golan (Allison Janney) who advises him to visit a group home on a Welsh island where his grandfather grew up, that he used to hear bedtime stories about. After Jake meets the peculiar children the film becomes a little livelier, but not enough is made of their camaraderie, with a tedious romantic yarn at the forefront instead.
Visually Burton rifles through his back catalogue for inspiration: perfectly pruned animal and dinosaur bushes – as seen in Edward Scissorhands – line the garden of the children's home, and macabre stop-motion occasionally pops its head up. In a generous mood you could view Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children as a director nostalgically looking back on all the adventures he's had as a filmmaker, but the result is mostly lacklustre, like a recycled shambles.
General release from Thu 29 Sep.