Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is one of two this week that I call a pablum movie. The second is Deepwater Horizon. Pablum films are neither good nor bad, and have no personality at all.
Miss Peregrine and her peculiar kids come to life via the equally peculiar mind of directing, writing and producing legend Tim Burton. The film is based on the first of Ransom Riggs’ popular young adult novels.
This is the first of what I hope will only be three movies based on Riggs’ three books. In most movies based on book series, producers — and Burton is likely no exception — like to split the third book into an unnecessary two movies. So it could be four.
Heavy sigh. I could barely make it through one.
Eva Green (Casino Royale) is in charge of a group of kids with unique powers. She and her peculiar kids are suspended in time. They repeat a day during World War II over and over again. It keeps them hidden from enemies that want to kill them and steal their powers.
Asa Butterfield (Ender’s Game, Hugo) is Jake. His grandfather told him stories as a child about Miss Peregrine and the kids. When his grandfather is killed by tentacled monsters, Jake — who saw one — begins to believe. Grandpa leaves the boy and book that tells him to go to an island in Wales. It’s there that he finds not only Miss Peregrine and the kids, but some very dangerous enemies.
Since it’s Burton who specializes in the bizarre, and considering the world-class cast — Green, Butterfield, Samuel L. Jackson, Judi Dench, Chris O’Dowd, Terrence Stamp, Allison Janney and others — you kind of expect more than just great effects. And to be fair, Burton’s movie has a great look and the effects are terrific.
The letdown is the writing. It’s too long and not interesting. Riggs co-writes the screenplay with Jane Goldman, who was the lead writer on Kick-Ass and Stardust, and a main contributor to X-Men: First Class. Goldman understands fun, but it doesn’t feel like she had much control over the direction of Burton’s film.
The movie is what you expect and not much more. So instead of something really original, Miss Peregrine ends up being Harry Potter light.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Director: Tim Burton
Stars: Ava Green, Asa Butterfield, Samuel L. Jackson, Judi Dench, Chris O’Dowd, Terrence Stamp, Allison Janney
Mr. Movie rating: 2 1/2 stars
Rated PG-13 for mature themes. It’s playing at the Carmike 12, Regal’s Columbia Center 8, the Fairchild Cinemas Pasco 12 and Queensgate 12, and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen.
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it’s your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don’t bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.