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Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children—My take on the movie

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is filled with cool tricks. Miss Peregrine herself can turn into a bird, Emmy has a way with air—she so full of it, she floats—enabling her to blow all the water out of a sunken ship, the twins can turn people to stone with their stares, Enoch can re-animate toys and even dead people. Olive wears black rubber gloves because her touch can light a fire. Etcetera. 

These are ‘the peculiars’ Jacob’s grandfather Abe told him stories about when he was growing up. Children, like his grandfather, sent to the island to escape the monsters coming for him. In the book, the reader knows ‘the peculiars’ are Jewish children sent out of Poland and Germany to escape the horrors of World War II, and what the world will come to call the holocaust. When Abe leaves to battle the monsters called ‘hollowgast’ we get it. Those demons represent the very worst monsters living in some men’s souls. 

That element, the heart and soul of the battle, seems missing from the movie. What remains is the battle, the bad guys hunting children to eat their eyeballs and in so doing preserving their immortality, relentless in their pursuit. The children, led by Jacob, bravely pulling out their bag of tricks to stay alive. It’s dramatic, lively even if it’s difficult to understand why children with such magical powers don’t use them more often and more effectively. 

Director Tim Burton must have had a blast, the Jack Skellington-like creatures, the re-animated toys are right up his alley. Unfortunately, Asa Butterfield doesn’t seem to have had as much fun. While his character Jacob is meant to be depressed, heartsick and fearful at the ominous death of his grandfather, Butterfield felt like he was going through the motions. 

A fine performance by Eva Green as Miss Peregrine 
doesn't help the movie take flight

The high drama of Eva Green’s stylish portrayal of the cigar-smoking, eye-narrowing Miss Peregrine and charming array of peculiars, especially Ella Purnell as Emma further highlight his listless ordinariness. Even when Jacob’s own peculiarity is revealed, Butterfield himself seems vague and disconnected. Part of the reason, I suspect, that when the film ended (we saw the 3D version) I left the theater feeling that it was okay, good in some parts, but not great. That despite all the special effects, I was vaguely dissatisfied. But then, I’m the kind of movie goer who wants a touch more emotional depth from movies, if you’re an action fan you might quite love it. My husband said someone had described it as Tim Burton’s X-Men, and to be honest, that’s a movie franchise I could happily live without. 

Directed by Tim Burton from a script by Jane Goldman. Costume design (brilliant) by Colleen Atwood. Cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel (Big Eyes, Dark Shadows), Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is in theaters now.