Current Issue #488

Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Review: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Meek Floridian Jake (Asa Butterfield) is an unhappy lad, rather closer to his grandfather Abraham (Terence Stamp) than his uncool (and stubbornly realist) Dad Franklin (Chris O’Dowd neutralising his signature Irish accent).

When the supposedly deluded Abraham is mysteriously killed and Jake catches a glimpse of a pretty cool monster, no one believes him and he’s forced to attend therapy with Dr. Golan (Alison Janney looking uncomfortable).

Golan is told about Jake’s childhood listening to Grandad’s stories of a home for ‘peculiar’ children on a small Welsh island (and we’re treated to some lovely flashbacks featuring Stamp), and she advises that Jake travel there with Franklin to both properly let Grandad go and to prove to himself that the strange children’s home isn’t real.

And, of course, when they get there and Jake gives his Dad the slip after some funny Welsh jokes, we find out that Miss Peregrine (Eva Green, also in Burton’s Dark Shadows) is very real and, like her child charges, is stuck in a complicated time loop.

The kids are a diverse bunch, including pyrokinetic Olive (Laren McCrostie), invisible Millard (Cameron King, who we naturally only hear), dream-projecting Horace (Hayden Keeler-Stone), a pair of weird masked twins (Andrew and Jack Fibkins) and human beehive Hugh (Milo Parker), but the one Jake’s fated to fall for is the lighter-than-air Emma (Ella Purnell).

However, any declarations of love must wait when the nasty, eye-plucking Barron (Samuel L. Jackson as a character controversially not in the book) turns up with a gang of ‘hollowgasts’ and elaborately steals away Miss Peregrine, which leaves the kids (and Judi Dench’s Miss Avocet) to certain doom. Unless they can all band together and… well, you know.

One of those fantasies that require so much build-up and explanation that the climax comes somewhat too late and the final result suffers from a lopsided structure, this nevertheless offers nice playing (from Green and Stamp especially), some fanciful FX and a few Burton-esque film-buff references (Jason And The Argonauts, anyone).

And then there’s Jackson, who might well be a bone of contention for fans and purists, but it hardly matters, as he’s obviously having a fine time and wrings plenty of villainous humour out of even the simplest ‘Boo!’ 3 stars

Rated M. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is in cinemas now.

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