Film Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Release Date: 30th September 2016

Rating: 12A

What I look for most in a film is escapism: I want to forget about reports and tutorials, work and assignments and just get lost in a story for a couple of hours, and this film certainly did not disappoint.

Set in present day Florida, we first meet teenager Jake (played by Asa Butterfield), who doesn’t have many friends and helps look after his elderly grandad, who has been diagnosed with dementia. When he goes to visit him later that night, he finds the house has been broken into, and his grandad fatally attacked. However, his last words lead him to the tiny island of Carinholm in Wales, where he meets an old friend of his granddad’s, Miss Peregrine, and the children she looks after.

What really made the film for me was Asa Butterfield and Eva Green: their acting was phenomenal. In the first fifteen minutes of the film I had already started caring about Jake and his grief over his granddad, and throughout the film I was cheering for him as he met the Peculiar Children and learned the truth about his grandad, and unwittingly fought the Hollow’s: evil, invisible peculiar’s who hunt the children. Butterfield brought an innocence to the role, and a normality to it: when he first meets the children, who he has always considered embellished stories by his grandad, he runs away rather than just accepting it. This had me smiling: because that is probably exactly what I would have done! The character of Jake is a self-entitled ‘chicken’ and I was just continually endeared by him the whole film.

Eva Green, on the other hand, just brings Miss Peregrine to life. She plays her as a strict but caring headmistress character, who every so often will turn into a badass protector that left me wanting to applaud. The first time we meet her, she’s complaining: “I’ve had to kill them twice this month, it’s awfully inconvenient.” Then turns and invites Jake in for tea! Those little spots of comedy really added to my enjoyment of the film.

It’s not all about Peculiar Children and birds: it’s a film directed by Tim Burton, and as such there are a few scary/shocking moments: in fact, some of it is pretty horrible to think about (no spoilers, but I’m never going to be able to eat Halloween sweeties this year!) and the appearance of the Hollow’s is as nightmare-inducing as you would expect. There was also the older Peculiar Child, Enoch, who would have probably benefited from some therapy, but redeemed himself towards the end: as all antagonists tend to do. But the gothic scenery of the Children’s Home, a sunken cruise ship and an abandoned circus has a brilliant attention to detail, and as a history fan I really enjoyed it. Sci-fi fans would also have a great time: figuring out the time-travel aspect of the film! I’m not a sciency-person by any means, so I honestly couldn’t begin to explain Burton and the other filmmaker’s theory of it, but a sci-fi fan would have a great time with it!     

Despite the confusing time-travel and the scary monsters, I really enjoyed the film: and got caught up in Jake and the rest of the children’s story. I came away both happy and slightly emotional, and I would recommend it if anyone wants an escape from Uni work for a few hours: definitely worth it, and a great one to see to get in the Halloween mood!

A quick note: this film is based on the 2011 novel of the same name by Ransom Riggs. Since I have never read the novel, I was unable to make a direct comparison. However, for anyone who has, I would warn them that a few big changes have been made, such as the ages of the children, and Emma’s peculiarity. I would still recommend going to see it though, as a reader myself, no matter how little a film lives up to a novel, I love seeing the characters and the locations brought to life!

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