Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
dir Tim Burton
scr Jane Goldman
prd Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping
with Asa Butterfield, Eva Green, Samuel L Jackson, Ella Purnell, Judi Dench, Rupert Everett, Allison Janney, Chris O'Dowd, Terence Stamp, Finlay MacMillan, Lauren McCrostie, Milo Parker
release UK/US 30.Sep.16
16/UK Fox 2h07
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Just in time: Green and Butterfield

jackson dench everett
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Tim Burton's gothic sensibilities are perfectly suited to Ransom Riggs' popular novel: this is a fabulous freak-show take on the X-Men premise. There are magical moments all the way through, including some thrilling action and emotional drama. But the movie sags under the weight of its dense plot and visuals, including lengthy explanation that never quite answers the viewers' nagging questions.

Jake (Butterfield) is a Florida teen who is closer to his story-spinning grandfather Abe(Stamp) than his oblivious dad (O'Dowd). When Grandpa is killed, Jake's counsellor (Janney) recommends that he travels to a Welsh island where Abe grew up to find some closure. There Jake discovers a strange time-loop in which Miss Peregrine (Green) keeps her gang of super-human children in 1943. As he befriends the floating Emma (Purnell), surly Enoch (MacMillan), fiery Olive (McCrostie) and others, Jake realises that a villainous man (Jackson) is threatening Miss Peregrine's home.

Burton expertly combines wide-eyed wonder, gurgling horror and real emotions. And this film is given an epic feel with Gavin Bocquet's elaborately jam-packed production design and Colleen Atwood's expressive costumes. The narrative is just as busy, demanding close attention when we'd rather prowl around the sets at leisure. All of the instructive dialog is rather exhausting, but it's essential to make any sense of the rather wacky plot. While the imagery will be more than enough for the kids in the audience.

Butterfield gives the film a terrific point of view as a sceptical, intelligent, witty kid. He strikes up terrific chemistry with the uniformly solid cast. Green has huge presence as the preening Miss Peregrine, and Jackson clearly loves playing malevolent, especially with that jagged mouthful of teeth. Dench has an enjoyable cameo as an ymbryne (like Miss Peregrine, she can turn into a bird and manipulate time), as does Everett as a clearly suspicious bird-watcher. And of course Janney and Stamp are wonderful.

The idea of extraordinary youngsters hiding from the "normal" world is immediately intriguing, and Burton and Goldman use sparky energy and strong emotional tension to carry us into the whizzy visuals of this parallel world. But the script never makes anything of the connection to the non-peculiar world. O'Dowd's character, for example, is simplistically abandoned whenever he's not needed. And there's definitely a sense that streamlining the mythology would have made the movie much more accessible. Still, it's fun while it lasts. And no one mixes terror and heart like Burton.

cert 12 themes, violence 27.Sep.16

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