“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children,” the latest book-to-film-adaptation, hit theaters this weekend. The 2011 young adult novel by Ransom Riggs found a home on the big screen with the help of delightfully morbid director Tim Burton (“Alice in Wonderland,” “Sweeney Todd”) and has been topping the weekend box office.
The film centers on awkward teen Jake Portman (Asa Butterfield), who is mourning the mysterious death of his grandfather, Abe (Terence Stamp). After growing up listening to stories of monsters and children with peculiar powers, Jake formed a special relationship with him and decided to look further into his death.
Upon finding a letter from a Miss Peregrine (Eva Green), the headmistress of the home for peculiar children about which Abe told stories, Jake decides to go to Wales to find her and get some answers about his grandfather’s death.
When Jake arrives on the island, he discovers much more than he was expecting. Turns out the children’s home is a sort of portal, which transports him back to the 1940s. There he discovers that all the stories his grandfather told him were true. As Jake begins digging further into how Abe died, he finds that there is a sinister force hunting the peculiars, and he may be the only one that can help stop them.
The plot of “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” was beautifully woven and kept me interested for the full two hours. Though the movie is on the longer side, I did not notice at all, as I was so invested in the unraveling story. It may be a little confusing for some viewers, as it does feature a lot of details to keep up with.
Though the film had a larger number of characters, they were all still well developed, with even the secondary characters having arcs of their own. Asa Butterfield was not bad in the role of the protagonist, but Ava Green’s Miss Peregrine, with her posh accent and fast-talking quips, stole every scene she was in.
In addition to their development, the costumes for each character also did an effective job of establishing the ambiance of the 1940s while also incorporating the classic Tim Burton twist reminiscent of the styles in his other movies.
The cinematography of the film was another impressive aspect, featuring a juxtaposition of sunny, pastel, palm-tree-filled Florida along with the dark rainy gloom of Wales. Also, Miss Peregrine’s Home itself, with its towering, castle-like structure, surrounding trees and detailed shrubbery was a dreamy backdrop for a similarly dreamy story.
Several scenes in the film stuck out for this same reason, such as one featuring a rather gruesome feast hosted by the main villain, Barron (Samuel L. Jackson). Also, the more disturbing of Barron’s henchmen, called Hollows, were towering creatures that resembled Slender Man. They were featured in a rather memorable and unusually lighthearted fight scene at a carnival dock.
Overall, “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” was a rather delightful watch. If you are a fan of the book or Tim Burton’s work, you will likely enjoy this film. It can get a little confusing, and the acting is not superb on some levels, but I would still recommend taking a trip to theater for this one.