By Hannah Craven
Tim Burton is known for quirky fantasy conventions in his films. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children does not disappoint with its continuous unusual themes, eccentric characters and dark storytelling. The only thing that is missing from a typical Tim Burton picture is Johnny Depp. This gives Burton a chance to use new talent, as well as established actors, to explore this world, without the stereotype of Johnny Depp’s characters. I feel this works well and gives Tim Burton a chance to show a new element to his new directorial piece and characters.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is based on the bestselling novel by Ransom Riggs, and it is adapted for screen by Jane Goldman, who is known for her screenplays; Kingsman: The Secret Service and The X Men: First Class. This film has a similar feel to X Men, as Miss Peregrine’s children all have different unique powers and appearances. The film is also set in an old-fashioned English Victorian house which could be compared to Xavier’s school from the X Men franchise.
What defines a Tim Burton film? Well for a start – weirdness. In this motion picture, the children are the definition of strange. There is a boy who can shoot out bees from his mouth, a girl who has a monster mouth at the back of her head, a disturbing young man who places hearts into dolls and encourages them to fight with each other, and a young woman who can cause heat from her touch.
The main protagonist is British actor Asa Butterfield, who shined in his performance in award winning picture Hugo. He plays a remote teenager called Jake whose only friendship is with his grandfather Abe (Terrence Stamp). When Abe dies under suspicious circumstances, Jake’s concerned parents take him to see a psychiatrist, as they believe Abe’s death has deeply affected him. The brilliant comedy actor Chris O’ Dowd plays his father; he is surprisingly believable as an anxious American father. He has been type cast for such a long time now, that it was refreshing to see him take on a new role, which explored his acting ability.
His psychiatrist believes that a trip to Wales might be beneficial in order to visit the children’s home where Abe claimed that he had lived with other gifted children. His father joins him on the trip. Jake wants to find out more about his grandfather’s past, and if he was telling the truth for all those years.
When he gets to Wales, he finds out the children’s home had been destroyed in 1943. The children find him as he enters their time loop, which makes it September 3rd 1943 forever if the loop is reset.
One of the leading performances in my opinion is Eva Green’s Miss Peregrine. She is the headmistress of the house, who smokes a pipe and is elegant in every scene. If you search for the definition of mother figure, Eva Green’s performance of Miss Peregrine would appear. She plays the part true to the novel and she makes the audience trust her and appear as a friend. Miss Peregrine can turn into a falcon as well as being able to reset the loop. This leads me to Judi Dench’s cameo; I feel that they included her just because Tim Burton could. I would have liked to see a lot more of her as her scenes felt very rushed. She is quite an important character being another shape shifter like Miss Peregrine.
The storyline can leave the audience confused, which is typical Tim Burton Style. It leaves many questions unanswered, such as why does Miss Peregrine turn into a bird. What is so special about Blackpool? But-, it kept me hooked. I wasn’t bored at any time during the film. The cinematography is beautiful throughout, a credit to Bruno Delbonnel, showing the imagination of Tim Burton’s ideas through the power of film. However, one of my only criticisms is Samuel L Jackson’s performance. I felt like I had seen it all before in Kingsman: The Secret Service. His villain in that picture has few differences to his role as the sinister Barron. It felt very similar to a stereotypical villain from a pantomime.
Tim Burton uses features similar to the holocaust from World War Two. Jake’s grandfather Abe is a Polish Jew who got away from Poland in the 1930’s. This is not mentioned much in the film, but it is shown profoundly in the novel. The antagonist called the Hollowgast , who are led by Samuel L Jackson, have a connection to the Holocaust from World War Two. They are trying to destroy the weak and the vulnerable. There has been a discussion by audiences whether this film is too dark and scary for children with referrals to the Holocaust, and the Hollowgast eating eyeballs. But I disagree with this opinion, as at the showing of the performance I went to, the children were enjoying the film and didn’t seem fazed by it.
Overall, this is a Tim Burton picture that doesn’t disappoint. It does deal with some difficult issues, which are hard to take in, such as violence, monsters that eat eyeballs and bereavement. Nevertheless, Burton deals with these subjects in the best way that he knows and helps to make the picture entertaining, magical and interesting for children and adults alike. I could easily watch this film again, the characters, the cinematography and Tim Burton’s imagination help make this novel come to life.