Expectations were high for the potential of Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, which recently arrived on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download after a decent stint on the big screen. For the most part is does a pretty good job of living up to the impressive trailer that sold the film, but there are a few cut corners and rushed rushes that result in a fantasy fiction flick that keeps you locked in, but doesn’t entirely entrance.
As you’d expect from the name, this is a film that’s meant to be peculiar, building on the story from the Ransom Riggs book of the same name, but with Tim Burton in the director’s chair he’s really maximised this to the extreme. For the most part, this works well, giving it a unique visual style to link in to the old photography in the book and delivering good elements of dark fantasy, but sometimes it can look a bit too rough around the edges.
This comes in the form of stuttering stop-motion animation with the occasional over-sped sequence, which looks too much like a throw-backs to 1970s monster movies. With a bit less DIY style, this could have been a really interesting inclusion, but in the end it just looks a bit disappointing and too much of a contrast with the rest of the special effects, which are excellent at their best.
The story itself is a brilliantly fantastical tale of monsters, time loops and very talented children, which are referred to as being peculiar, which doesn’t really do them justice, because they’ve got some pretty cool super powers. It starts out with 16-year old Jake, who lives a pretty dull life in Florida, except for the wild stories of peculiar children, monsters and Miss Peregrine that his grandfather tells him. It doesn’t take long for things to get a little grizzly with a grim attack on Jake’s grandad, which leads the ordinary kid on a journey to Wales, where things get a whole lot extra-ordinary at Miss Peregrin’s home for peculiar children.
If you want to be picky with the storyline, it’s kind of easy to find holes in the rationale to things, whether it’s the need for the time loop havens, Jake’s grandfather Abe’s decision to go AWOL from protecting the peculiar kids or the eye feasts that you see in a couple of cut scenes. They don’t so much stretch the idea of what’s plausible, because Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is entirely out there, but they don’t really fit as well as they could as they are.
The cast are all fairly well balanced, with the exception of Chris O’Dowd (Thor: The Dark World) as Jake’s dad, due to an American accent that is impossible to get your head around. Asa Butterfield puts in a good stint as Jake and Ella Purnell (Maleficent) is excellent as his lighter than air love interest Emma Bloom. Samuel L. Jackson (Kong: Skull Island) is very good as the freaky-eyed villain of the piece, Mr. Barron, Judy Dench (Esio Trot) is understated and grounding as Miss Esmeralda Avocet, Rupert Everett makes a brief, but impactful appearance as ornithologist John Lamont and it’s a real pleasure to see Terence Stamp (Superman 2) back on the big screen as Jake’s grandad Abe. Eva Green (The Salvation) strings it all together as the titular Miss Peregrine, bringing a lot of idiosyncratic charm and direction to the film.
If you like your films unconventional, fantastical and a little on the dark side then the Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children DVD is one for you. However, if you’re more straight-laced and struggle with things getting a bit more creepy than kooky then you might want to stay out of the loop. Tim Burton has done a pretty good job with the adaptation and a good cast mix helps to make up for some of the negatives.
Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children DVD review: 3.7/5