Asa Butterfield is an odd child whom has spent his entire life thinking that his grandad has just been mental – making up stories about monsters and children with superpowers. However when his grandad is found dead in mysterious circumstances (his eyes went missing) he discovers a bunch of clues that suggest that his grandad wasn’t mental after all. Said clues lead him to this gothic island off Ireland where he discovers Eva Green and her Home for Peculiar Children.
The premise for this movie has Tim Burton written all over it. This is exactly the kind of school that Edward Scissorhands would attend. The stars have aligned to bring us the perfect Tim Burton comeback movie. Except it’s not very good. Or especially Tim Burtony for that matter.
That’s not to say that there are no redeeming features. There are a few genuinely creepy and burtonesque moments. Eva Green is wonderful and keeps the movie afloat almost single handed. The trouble is that it just doesn’t hold together very well. It does that classic book adaptation thing of over explaining all of the backstory and leaving no time for actual story. Leaving the film feeling both overstuffed and under filled at the same time. You lose track of characters there are so many of them, but nothing really happens on screen until the last forty minutes. It also suffers from having a miscast Asa Butterfield in its central role. Butterfield is a good actor (See X + Y) but he isn’t a leading man (See Ender’s Game or this). This central lack of leading charisma really hurts the film. You end up looking to side characters to pick up the slack and Eva Green does this admirably whenever she is on screen but this is nowhere near often enough. Samuel L Jackson also does a good job chewing the scenery as the main antagonist.
It also has some problems visually. As I previously mentioned there are some striking images here, but the general visual tone of the movie is not the gothic blacks and saturated pastels that we’ve come to associate with Burton, but a far greyer colour palette that fits in more with the duller end of marvel’s visual catalogue. This all adds to the film’s overwhelming sense of mediocrity.
At the end of the day Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a missed opportunity. It’s not a bad film and is only occasionally boring. But it’s also not a good one and is only occasionally enjoyable.