The latest offering from Tim Burton, Miss Peregrine follows Jake Portman (Asa Butterfield) who, after his grandfather (Terence Stamp) is attacked by a supernatural creature, is led to find a children’s home led by the protective Miss Alma Peregrine (Eva Green). The home exists within a time loop, its inhabitants constantly reliving a single day in 1943, and it is soon revealed that the Peculiars are being hunted by a rouge, monstrous Peculiar faction, led by Mr. Barron (Samuel L. Jackson).
This review may as well start with Miss Peregrine herself. Regular readers of this site will know that I LOVE Eva Green; she’s one of those actresses who is the best thing about anything she’s ever in and in all honesty, she was my main reason for making the effort to see this film. Maybe there’s a hint of bias here, but she is indeed the main draw of this film. Even though she appears for a relatively short amount of time, her scenes illicit the most smiles as she is very charming, charismatic and she definitely helps to keep the film afloat. It is a definite shame that she wasn’t in it more.
Saying that, Terence Stamp is wonderful to watch as well. As Jake’s grandfather Abe, Stamp brings dignity, confidence and gravitas to the role and like Eva Green, he is a great help in keeping the film afloat. Judi Dench and Chris O’Dowd are also great.
It is also refreshing to see that the film has enough scary/shocking scenes and how Burton hasn’t simply made this a generic child-friendly family film. The scene with the fighting puppets is classic Burton and scene involving the transformation of Barron and his minions, including their feast of eyes, is very tense indeed. And on that note, what is it with 2016 movie villains and taking eyes? I mean, look at Kubo and the Two Strings . . !
And the first time-turning scene, set to Flanagan and Allen’s “Run Rabbit Run” is pretty neat.
However, I definitely had problems with the film, my main issue being the performances of Asa Butterfield and Ella Purnell, who plays Emma Bloom and who primarily fulfils the role of “love interest”. Above all others, their performances were noticeably wooden and the romantic subplot between the two of them was excruciating and insulting, not helped by the accompanying score, which is obvious and emotionally manipulative. Purnell, in particular, is insufferable and overwhelmingly wooden, the chemistry between the two characters is non-existent and their relationship is a massive hindrance to the film. The same also goes for the characters of Enoch and Olive (Finlay MacMillan and Lauren McCrostie), who have a similar tacked on romantic subplot that is just as burdensome.
The story is also pretty disposable; there are generic scary monsters to be fought and the main character has to find his “inner strength” in order to save the children. It’s all pretty unexciting and the film is certainly lacking any kind of “wow factor”. Miss Peregrine also gets bogged down with its temporal mechanics; the narrative eventually becomes noticeably bungled and confused. One of the very last scenes involves Butterfield’s character explaining how he navigated through time but by that point, I was completely lost and realised that the story had completely lost its way. There’s even a scene where Samuel L. Jackson pretty much explains his plan and its clear to see that even he’s confused as to what’s going on!
But hey, at least a great deal of the film takes place in Wales, even though Burton makes it look incredibly dreary! Although having said that, I do know a lot of pubs that are just as depressing as the one featured in the film!
Eva Green and Terence Stamp do their best, but the unexciting, muddled story and dire performances from Butterfield and Purnell make this one of Burton’s more forgettable tales.