Jake (Asa Butterfield) has long considered the stories told by his grandfather (Terence Stamp) as purely fiction. When a strange event occurs, though, Jake begins to discover that his grandfather’s stories about Miss Peregrine (Eva Green) and the children she watches over are more true than he could imagine. Their living situation – a loop of a period in 1943 just before a Nazi attack – is under threat, and Jake will have to help Miss Peregrine rescue the children from the loop they’re in as well as the beings hunting them down.
Remember when hearing about a new Tim Burton film seemed like fun? It’s been a while, unfortunately, but I had hopes for Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. For starters, the titular character is played by Eva Green, who was easily the best part of the otherwise dull Dark Shadows. Additionally…okay, that was the only thing that gave me hope. And to be fair, Green is good as Miss Peregrine, but the character isn’t that prominent in the story.
It’s really Jake’s story, and Butterfield is a capable but not commanding actor. His scenes succeed or fail based on who else he’s working with, and while most of the adults in the film are solidly cast, the rest of the kids are okay at best. They may be capable of more, but the film doesn’t really develop any of the kids outside of whatever characteristics make them unique, unless it relates more directly to Jake – and not many of the kids qualify.
The story itself is interesting enough, but it’s told at an oddly languid pace for long stretches. It’s also filled with the standard Burton level of visual quirk, which fortunately makes it more cohesive than, say, Alice in Wonderland. But in all honesty, I want more from Burton. I liked when he steps outside of his comfort zone, like he last did with Big Eyes. Burton has the potential to mature as a filmmaker, and a film like Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children doesn’t seem like the best use of his talents these days.