Being Peculiar Has Never Been So Much Fun…or Disturbing

peculiar

            Another weekend, another chance for Hollywood to take a book and turn it into a film.  The review today is on Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children, a story that certainly screams for someone with an odd sense of direction to make.  Therefore, someone like Tim Burton is perfect to lead the production of this book and bring that weirdness to the screen.  Robbie K bringing another review, hoping to help guide you on your movie viewing needs. Let’s get started!

 

LIKES

  • Tim Burton weirdness
  • Decent visual effects
  • Felt like a book
  • Ella Purnell and Eva Green

 

After Big Eyes, people were missing Burton’s weird touch in the cinematic world.  Thankfully, the strange director has returned and delivered in spades, bringing his usual bag of tricks into the mix.  Peregrine’s home alone looks like something out of a bizarre dream, with its residents mirroring Burton’s twisted sense of fun (e.g. mouths on the back of their heads or experimenting with the dead). Even the antagonists certainly look like something pulled from the occult particularly the long limbed, multi-tongued sightless Hollows that hunt our heroes.  The underlying theme is that Burton’s edge is all over this movie and brought out in decent visual effects. Burton’s team use a combination of make-up and computers to create these weird wonders, with the make up being the more realistic and impressive component.

Another positive was how much it felt like a book as opposed to a big budget movie production.  Miss Peregrine isn’t a movie about explosions, action, or sappy romantic outings, but rather it focuses on the story and character development. I found myself enjoying the formulaic presentation especially the climax at the end that brought everything to a close.  It was nice to see a movie not get lost in the big budget special effects and focus on the characters instead of the stunts.  And the writers get credit for a dialogue that fits well with the story.

With such a large cast it is hard to analyze all their acting styles, so I’ll focus on Ella Purnell and Eva Green. Purnell’s character Emma brings the most magic to the film as Burton abused her air bending ability to unlock the secrets of the looped world. Ella’s combination of smug fun, determination, and compassion make for a winning combination that one can’t help but latch onto. Eva Green was awesome as always, bringing her brooding, hard edge to the forefront and curbing into a role that was centered on caring for her kids. It was nice seeing her in a role that wasn’t an antagonist, and she fit so well with the cast.

 

DISLIKES

  • Didn’t match up with the books
  • Wasted potential on powers
  • Cheesy visuals at times
  • A bit disturbing at times

I can’t lie, I haven’t read the books, but based on the summaries from Wikipedia (and the fact there are multiple books) it’s safe to say that the film does not follow the novels.  There is a lot of similar elements, but the movie took a lot of liberties with the story to cram it into a two hour run time. Much of the changes were to give a friendlier atmosphere for younger audience members, but my research also reveals some other major changes that may highly irritate fans of the series.  One major change involves deleting some important conflicts described in the books. Another major change is that they combined plots from other books to not only bring the story to completion, but give a decent ending in case the movie tanks. And yes, they even changed the villain in this movie so they could have a role for Samuel L Jackson.

But with all the changes for the movie, one thing that they seemed to not expand on were the powers of the kids. The kids have some really cool peculiarities, but most of them didn’t get to show it off much outside of a few parlor tricks. Oh sure, they got a few well timed moments to use their powers to accomplish something, but outside of two of them, they didn’t do much. Even the Hollows failed to do much, despite the fact they had the weirdest director to abuse those powers, which made the movie a bit lamer. And when they did get to use their powers, they often came out cheesy, often presented in a manner that would maximize the 3-D viewing. This was especially true for the Hollows whose lumbering forms did look freaky, but again very fake and designed specifically for the 3-D visuals.

   Finally, the disturbing dislike. Yes, Burton’s imagination crosses into this realm often, but this particular flick took it a little far at times. Seeing children playing with hearts, or having eye balls ripped out only to be eaten might be a little bit of a stretch for some. True it does fit with the darker theme of the movie, but it’s a shame to see the mature boundary moving to a younger age. In addition, the Hollows might be a bit scary for some younger members.

 

THE VERDICT

When it comes to book themed movies, Miss Peregrine’s is certainly one of the odder to appear in a long time. Burton’s twist is back in spades and he has crafted a very intriguing film that will appeal to many audiences. However, Burton’s crew dropped the ball on a few things including plot points in the film, disturbing twists, and use of the kids’ powers. I can’t recommend this one in 3-D though, as I don’t think the effects will add much to the film. Still, I think this film is worth a trip to the theater, just exercised caution.

 

My Scores:

Adventure/Fantasy: 7.5

Movie Overall: 6.0

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