‘Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children’ is a must-see for any Tim Burton fanatic
The creative insanity behind the magic of “Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children” is transparent; as many movies before it, the screen captivates the essence of director Tim Burton’s witty and twisted sense of humor and fun.
Adapted from the Ransom Riggs New York Times best-selling novel, the cast of Miss Peregrine’s couldn’t have been better selected, as actor Asa Butterfield portrays main character Jake Portman — a dark-haired, bright blue-eyed Floridian who seems to be lacking in friends and Vitamin D.
The plot of the film begins as Jake gets a cryptic phone call from his grandfather, Abe (played by Terence Stamp), flustered about Jake’s father, Frank (played by Chris O’Dowd), taking away the key to his gun cabinet. He continues on, asking how he is going to fight the unrevealed “them” without his weapons, quickly hanging up the phone and leaving Jake perplexed in his boss’ car en route to Abe’s home.
Soon after the call, Jake finds himself in the middle of a murder scene. Abe’s home is the inside of a war zone, with papers scattered across the floor, refrigerator door thrown open and the screen of the back door clawed apart.
Jake discovers his grandfather facedown with a bloody two-pronged fork in hand. Panicked, Jake calls 911 and turns Abe over, unveiling the endless black of his missing eyes. He stares in shock as his grandfather speaks to him for what seems to be the last time.
Abe tells Jake to find the orphanage in Wales, paying homage to a bit directly out of Riggs’ work.
From flashbacks, the audience can begin piecing together the importance of Sept. 3, 1940.
They begin to learn that the monsters Abe used to fight were not just those that were 20 feet tall with tentacles coming out of their heads. Yet, at the same time, they learn that Abe possessed a gift like no other.
This begins the Alice in Wonderland-esque parallel that is Jake discovering a time-loop inside a cavern in Wales, and eventually leading to the orphanage.
Jake, and the viewers, become acquainted with the band of misfits at Miss Peregrine’s, along with the woman-of-the-house herself.
Played by Eva Green, Miss Peregrine welcomes Jake in the image just as Abe had described in earlier scenes. She dons a puffy-sleeved uniform to match her black and blue hair, puffing on a pipe that rivals Sherlock Holmes’.
Taking out her pocket watch with her black-clawed hand, she smiles at Jake with eyes that scream with Burton madness, “Jake, right on time.” Her voice is heavily coated with the sound of a chain-smoker, adding a brashly unique attribute to her character.
Of course, you can’t have a PG-13 movie without some form of a sideshow love story.
Screenwriter Jane Goldman created the perfect “forbidden love” between Jake and light-as-a-feather Emma (played by Ella Purnell).
The awkward sweetness Jake shows toward Emma follows throughout the film up to the very end, with hints of drama and betrayal intermingling.
The rest of the cast worked in a strange, unusual harmony that can really only be found in Burton films.
From –quite literally– fiery redheaded Olive (played by Lauren McCrostie), to the unsettling “twins” (played by Joseph and Thomas Odwell), each character had an unusual quality about them, ranging from having a sharp-toothed mouth behind their head to raising the dead as the second coming of Dr. Frankenstein.
The film makes a somewhat serious point to touch upon facets of mental health and addiction, such as depression and alcoholism.
Earlier in the film, Jake’s mental health becomes the motivator his father needs to bring Jake to Wales to see the orphanage after Abe’s passing.
Frank, however, also uses Jake’s sanity as a scapegoat, calling Jake’s therapist in a fury because he thinks Jake is having a mental breakdown after he lies about where he’s been all day.
Throughout the movie, Frank mentions alcohol as his coping mechanism, drinking what looks to be his fifth beer as the bartender at the inn in Wales hands him another. Once he has had his fill, he passed out in the room, allowing Jake a sneaky getaway to visit Miss Peregrine and the orphans again.
Despite some solemn moments in the film, Goldman wrote in her own amusement, calling for Barron (played by Samuel L. Jackson) to eat the eyeballs of peculiars and mock the dread of spending three weeks in the good ‘ol Sunshine State.
With some Burton favoritism aside, Miss Peregrine’s is a must-see … at least twice for good measure.