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Miss Peregrine’s Home

For Peculiar Children

September 29, 2016

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children
(** ½) PG-13

I’ve never quite understood why some screenwriters, in penning adaptations of best selling books, feel the need to shoehorn every single plot development from said books into their cinematic companions. The film version of Ransom Riggs’ book Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is the latest example of this transgression. The film rarely has the time to breathe and you can almost feel the drops of flop sweat from screenwriter Jane Goldman as she attempts to cram in every conceivable plot strand that a film with a two-hour running time will allow. As a result the film—especially in its final stretch—feels rushed and unsatisfactory, undoing whatever good vibes it has going for it during its first half.

The central character in the film is Jake (Asa Butterfield), an adolescent boy with a strong emotional tie to his grandfather, Abe (the always dependable Terrence Stamp).

Eva Green & Asa Butterfield in Miss Peregrine’s ...

When Abe disappears, Jake finds out that his grandfather had, as a boy, been privy to the knowledge of the existence of a certain home for children with special powers. Jake becomes determined to locate the Home for Peculiar Children of the film’s title and, once there, realizes that their lives are under threat from an evil presence represented by Samuel L. Jackson and whose character goes by the moniker of Barron. He and his ilk are a literal force of evil, living off the eyeballs of the peculiar children (it’s really too complicated to explain here). And, yes, much like I am, you are probably wondering why eyeball eating is found in a film targeted at youthful audiences but that’s another subject for another movie review.

Being from what is affectionately termed as The Old School, I’m generally not a fan of films that are larded up with CGI and prefer practical effects in films that require that sort of thing. Here, however, Director Tim Burton and his cinematic craftsmen actually use the CGI in creative and inventive ways to depict the unusual talents of the Peculiar Children of the film’s title. It’s one of the film’s assets to be sure. For instance, the mouth of one of the characters is located at the back of the neck and hidden under the hairline and it’s interesting to see said character in action during mealtime. And there’s a character living with a hive of bees inside his body, and so on and so forth.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children seemed like a project perfectly tailored to Burton’s sensibilities but I never felt like his heart was in it. He’s hitting the required the notes and that’s about it. I’m sad to say that, like Oliver Stone, the Tim Burton we once knew may be gone forever. This film is another piece of evidence with which to make that case.

This movie opens Friday, September 30, in Hickory and all around the area.

Questions or comments? Write Adam at filmfan1970@hotmail.com.

 

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