Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Movie Review
When you get to see a movie for free and still want your money back, that’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, another dead-on-arrival entry from director Tim “I gave up years ago” Burton. A hollow, lifeless adaptation of the refreshingly peculiar novel by Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine is marred by dull storytelling, terrible acting and a completely bonkers third act that will have fans of the book pulling out their hair and all other emotionally scarred 10-year-olds who see this movie going, “What the fuck am I watching?”
After years of young adult adaptations that have been faithful to their source material, it was rather odd to watch Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children five months after I read the book and see how much was changed to no particular benefit. The obvious adjustments—such as swapping the peculiar powers of love interest Emma with another character—don’t bother me as much as the film’s complete inability to transfer the book’s mysterious, alluring and awe-inspiring tone to screen.
Even though Tim Burton hasn’t made a good movie in over a decade, you’d think he could at least still make peculiar children appear peculiar.
The whole movie feels as though a group of Burton’s friends sat him down for an intervention and said, “Dude, you need to stop making such weird, obnoxious movies and do something different.” While it’s nice to see Miss Peregrine look and feel different than most of Burton’s other work, the final product has no energy, no imagination and no sense of excitement or intrigue. If you came across a home full of kids with special powers, how would you react?
The screenplay and performances don’t help the cause. Jane Goldman has written several good movies, but almost all of them were action movies or others not meant for children… sorry, “young adults.” Her adaptation of the book rings hollow, and the dialogue is clunky as hell. While Eva Green holds her own (side note: in the book, Miss Peregrine is an old woman, whereas in the movie, she looks like Eva Green), star Asa Butterfield is truly dreadful, barely able to pull off the simplest of lines without sounding like fingernails on a chalkboard. Of course, typically likable Chris O’Dowd and commendable Terence Stamp aren’t much better, so presumably the fault isn’t completely the actors’.
And then there’s Samuel L. Jackson. All I can say is… well, at least he had fun with the role. Whether he’s good or bad is immaterial, as Jackson does what Jackson does, injecting enthusiasm and gusto into his silly, villainous character even when given some incredibly hammy dialogue.
He does fit well with the film’s out-of-left-field third act, which is completely different from that in the book (which, in theory, isn’t terrible, as the book starts to go downhill toward the end, only to be followed up by a pretty awful sequel). And the film’s third act is completely bonkers. While the climax is not very good, per se, at least Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children ends with a blast of energy. The third act is faster paced, it takes better advantage of the children’s powers better than the book did, and it features a scene where the bad guys slurp down the eyeballs of dead children.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children just isn’t a good movie. It isn’t a good adaptation, and on its own, it’s a dull, lifeless incarnation of a unique story. While it has its moments, this is a movie best left untouched. I want my money back.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.