I always wondered what it would be like if Tim Burton ever directed an X-Men movie. The master of weird takes on Ransom Riggs’ best selling young adult novel about a group of special powered children called peculiars. But this time, Burton doesn’t have the help of Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter to help pick up the slack whenever the narrative falls flat.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children begins with a young boy named Jake (Asa Butterfield), who pretty much is your run of the mill lead character in a young adult film based off of a book. He is socially awkward and has a rocky relationship with his parents. His closest friend is his grandfather Abe (Terence Stamp) who has spent years telling him stories of his days in the 1940’s spent living with a group of unusual powered children known as peculiars. While Jake’s parents brush off the tales as myth and the product of post World War stress, Jake is determined to believe in his grandfather.
When Abe is mysteriously murdered, Jake journeys with his father (Chris O’Dowd) to the place where Miss Peregrine’s special home once was. There he discovers that all of the peculiar children are still alive and haven’t aged at all, thanks to a special time loop created by their guardian Miss Peregrine (Eva Green) that kept them safe in the midst of World War II. When Jake discovers that he too has special abilities, it is up to him to help defend the home and the other children from evil, cannibalistic peculiars led by a man named Mr. Barron (Samuel L. Jackson).
The film certainly contains the lore of a vast and fairly interesting universe and also carries Tim Burton’s trademark eeriness. But as stories go, this one’s pretty dull. The movie takes far too long to include action or suspense and spends way too much time focusing on the lackluster relationship between Jake and his dumbfounded father. The characters, though creative, aren’t exactly the most useful or interesting either and meager child acting doesn’t help to make them memorable.
Samuel L. Jackson helps breathe life with a charismatic turn as the villain, but his character’s motives seem relatively dumb and poorly executed once you stop and think about them. Coupled with uninspiring special effects and a climax that is vastly underwhelming, this movie ends up feeling like a monotonous plot centered around a world that in itself is full of potential. Maybe the book is better, but the film is a bore.
FINAL GRADE: C-