MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN [a Film Review]

What do you get when Tim Burton (Alice in Wonderland series, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) gets his hands on the X-Men franchise? You get the latest young adult novel adaptation to get the big screen treatment, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

Starring Eva Green (Casino Royale, Sin City: A Dame To Kill For) as the titular character, the film follows Jake (Asa Butterfield; Ender’s Game) who journeys to an island on Wales to look for the the mysterious children’s home hosted by Miss Peregrine following his grandfather’s unusual death. The film quickly follows Jake on a self-discovering journey as he discovers the peculiarity of these children at Miss Peregrine’s and their relationship to his late grandfather, played by Terence Stamp.

While I can understand that this film is based on the novel of the same name, the film does bare significant similarity to Marvel Comics’ X-Men series. In both series, there is a headmaster/mistress that runs a children’s home for unusual humans [Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Children vs. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children], a female shapeshifter [Mystique vs. Miss Peregrine], a pyromaniac [Pyro vs. Olive], a girl who can control air [Storm vs. Emma Bloom] and the plot of giant monsters looking to kill these unusual children [Sentinels vs. Hollows].

Essentially, this film is a children’s version of the X-Men made with Tim Burton’s cinematographic touch of blending horror with children’s stories. This is not new to the director, who has worked on projects like Corpse Bride, Alice in Wonderland, Nightmare Before Christmas, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. However, “not new” is somewhat a a curse to Burton’s films lately as they tend not to satisfy the audiences with his own blend of horror tropes and style with children fantasy adaptations. Like Alice in Wonderland and Chocolate Factory, Burton’s toying with children’s literature hasn’t been well received. the hype for Miss Peregrine looks fascinating and offers to show something mysteriously new to the Tim Burton taste. But in the end, the film just falls back into a generic plot with an unsung hero who has to rescue and battle to save the day from the dangers of a splinter group of equally-enhanced beings (sounds more like X-Men yet?).

The film stars primarily new young actors with two more seasoned young actors, Asa Butterfield and Ella Purnell as Jake and Emma. Undoubtedly, Eva Green’s performance as the titular headmistress is the saving light in the film with her elusive yet authoritarian personality as Miss Peregrine. Miss Peregrine also features seasoned actors like Chris O’Dowd, who plays Jake’s distanced father, and Samuel L. Jackson and Judi Dench is small but prominent roles in this first outing into Miss Peregrine’s literary universe.

While it is unsure if this film will lead to other sequels following the book series, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is certainly a “peculiar” addition to the genre of Hollywood young adult novel adaptations. If you are interested in superhero team-ups and is a young adult, this would be an entertaining film.

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