I am sure many are familiar with the novel of the same name but I wasn’t and thus I don’t know about the time it was published but a school with children with superpowers, mentored by a super-human and an extremely confusing time-line does sound a bit too familiar in 2016. As I am a fan of Tim Burton, I was very excited but much of it fizzled out after the first half-hour or so. Still, I managed to watch it so here goes.
STORY – Jake, is the grand-son of a mysterious man, Abe. Jake’s parents tell Abe that he has dementia and that is why he tells all those strange stories. One day, Abe is attacked and in his dying hours he gives Jake a cryptic message to go to an island and meet Miss Peregrine and save the Ymbrynes. He convinces his father to travel to Wales and in a chance meet he travels back in time and meets Miss Peregrine and her Peculiars. There he comes to know that there are multiple groups of Peculiars who live in time-loops to stay as immortals and are guarded by these mentors who control these time-loops to save them from the evil Peculiars who want to kill them to eat their eyeballs!? Gross. Now these evil Peculiars have their goons called Hollows who basically carry out their bidding BUT they are invisible. Now, here comes in Jake, who has the same power as his grand-father and that is that he can see those Hollows. So he should help the Peculiars and help preserve their time-loop.
Now, this is a pretty simple story where a misfit is entrusted with a huge burden which he should overcome to be accepted and triumph as a hero. So, to be fair the whole plot is predictable. Still that shouldn’t have been a problem if Tim Burton would have upped the ante and made the whole scheme feel not only a war between Hollows and Peculiars but one which could also affect the mortal world.
DIRECTION – Tim Burton has a style of his own. A characteristic, dark-humour along with an artificial set which gives the feeling that the film is set in a not-so-realistic place. Here that feeling was a bit diluted in nature. I remember watching Sleepy Hollow and the creepiness factor was so high. Or even a bright movie like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, with all it’s colours and dance numbers had a creepy feeling to it. Miss Peregrine’s doesn’t live up to that expectation. The outdoor shots feel dull and bland. The time-loop system isn’t established properly leading to fair amount of questions and plot-holes regarding it’s effects. The powers of each of the Peculiars, especially the Twins, aren’t used properly. You can say that it is according to the book, but in the 21st century, you can’t always go by-the-book. People have become far more logical and they can see through shoddy writing. I loved the stop-motion animation that was mixed in with real-life during Enoch’s demonstration of his powers. THAT felt creepy and disturbing.
The finale felt very, very lame. As I said there weren’t any stakes and the use of a single frame for every action, kick, punch didn’t increase the intensity. The CGI was okay. Again, the ending was not clear because the time-loop theory, at least to me, wasn’t explained.
ACTING – Acting was nothing spectacular. Everyone had a one note theme and no wow moment. I particularly loved Pixie Davies as the super-strong girl. She had small moments where she really shone. Hats-off to Cameron King as Millard. Being invisible and still emoting is a difficult job. I was expecting that there will be some scene where he will get to show his face but he didn’t and hats-off to that. The teenage romance of Jake and Emma is so boring, particularly because of Asa Butterfield and Ella Purnell’s lack-lustre performance.It felt unnecessary and avoidable because Asa Butterfield can’t emote when his grandpa is dying, then how is he gonna emote LOVE, which is a difficult emotion in itself.Eva Green and Samuel L. Jackson stroll through their roles as the two opposite poles of this peculiar world.
FINAL VERDICT – The whole film felt very dull and drab. I know, Tim Burton’s movies have that kind of a feeling but usually his movies urge you to snuggle under a blanket in winter and watch his movies because his movies have lot of emotions and plenty of acting which even increase the stakes which are apparently very small. This movie falls flat and to be honest, it was difficult to make my way through this. If you have read the novel and if you think you can connect with it, then sure, go ahead and give it a try. Casual movie-goers can give it a pass.
P.S- I caught a sneaky cameo of Tim Burton. I think I am getting better at this.