October 4, 2016 by bck1402
Directed by Tim Burton
Tim Burton has been branching out in terms of the movies he’s been making since Alice in Wonderland through to Big Eyes. There’s almost a sense that the man has mellowed a little, and Miss Peregrine shows little sign of the director returning to his dark and quirky roots.
And it could be a good thing.
While there are still a few odd touches, and hints of Burton’s personal influences such as the designs of the Hollows, the general tone of the films is fairly removed from Burton’s sensibilities. The filming in actual locations and the lack of CGI or stylised designed environments gives the movie a more grounded reality that is often lacking in Burton’s movies.
What we have here is a seasoned and confident Burton who is not relying to much on the quirkiness that he built his career on. He’s got a strong handle on his young cast of Peculiar Children who carry a majority of the movie. Asa Butterfield does well as Jake, playing off against his more seasoned star-studded co-stars, from Eva Green as the titular Miss Peregrine, to Chris O’Dowd who plays Jake’s father, Allison Janney and Samuel L Jackson, with a special appearance by one grand Dame. There are no shortage of solid performances here.
With the Peculiar Children, the visual effects managed to make them unique while maintaining the grounded sense of reality to a certain respect. It does give us something of a grand finale showcase with a nice tribute to a particular effects master, done in glorious fashion.
Still, Burton as director manages to maintain the fairytale sense of the story, allowing certain horrors to play out by letting the monsters truly be monsters, committing some monstrous and horrific acts within the movie. Some adults may find such horror disconcerting within what may seem like a children’s film, but really, I’m sure most kids can handle it. Such horror is the stuff of fairy tales.
I’m really trying not to give too much away because part of the joy in this movie is the discovery and experience of encountering the fantasy. It may turn a few viewers off in that the blend of the fantastic with the mundane may create a dichotomy that some may not be able to resolve especially once the two worlds clash. There is a simple story here, but the length and breadth of the movie may draw it out a bit too much. That being said, nothing is truly wasted, especially where the design is concerned, and if you’re paying a little attention to the proceedings. It definitely has brains.
Overall, it has chills and spills, a couple of surprises where the stars are concerned, and it manages to entertain in a fair manner. I won’t go on with some of its faults, of which there are few; those are overshadowed. The only thing missing, that stands out greatly, is the lack of Danny Elfman’s music. It just might have taken the movie a little more over the top and given us a truly whimsical sense to savour.
Rating: ***1/2 / 5