As one can guess from its title, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children tells of what is more or less a (slightly) more juvenile version of Professor Xavier’s Home for the Gifted. Invisible children, children with super-strength, all watched over by the titular Peregrine (Eva Green), who has a peculiarity herself; not only can she turn into a bird, but she can manipulate time so that she and her children are kept safe in a day that loops over and over. A young man named Jake (Asa Butterfield) goes to the home due to the words of his grandfather Abraham (Terence Stamp), and then finds himself protecting the children from the evil Mr. Barron (Samuel L Jackson).
Tim Burton has made some fine movies in the past but has a reputation for making things samey. For Miss Peregrine, however, if one went in with no idea that he was director, they likely wouldn’t have figured it out. There are touches of Burton here and there – Mr. Barron and Batman Returns’ Max Shreck likely go to the same hairdresser, and the story does revolve around outcasts – but there are few checkerboard floors or warped corridors. Miss Peregrine’s peculiar home is normal compared to Edward Scissorhands’ castle. This does mean, however, there is little to distinguish the film from other post-Potter young adult fantasies. Some more of Burton’s trademark weirdness could have been used in some areas, like the monsters who look like the result of an one –night-stand between Slenderman and a Resident Evil boss.
That doesn’t mean, however, that there isn’t fun to be had here. There are some nice gags involving the children and their peculiarities – we have a girl with a fanged mouth on the back of her head and twins whose faces need to be covered for a reason – and the final battle between the children and Barron’s helpers is filled with energy and amusing sights like an army of skeletons including an angry skeleton chef. Butterfield is decent in his role as the main character, but the side characters generally give more interesting performances. Samuel L Jackson was fun as the villain in Kingsmen: The Secret Service, and fun he is as the villain here. Eva Green is appropriately mysterious, and her character is much more interesting than her character in Burton’s Dark Shadows.
There isn’t that much really new in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, but it’s still entertaining and better than most of Burton’s output in recent years.