The latest film from director Tim Burton, “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children,” carries his signature visual style but none of what makes his works memorable.
“Peregrine” follows protagonist Jake (Asa Butterfield) as he searches for the titular home for children with special abilities and must help them fight against a group of monsters led by Barron (Samuel L. Jackson).
The plot starts out simple but becomes more convoluted as new ideas and backstory are constantly thrown into the mix. “Peregrine” has an interesting world, but it never has a chance to develop naturally. The constant flow of new ideas leads to a messy final act that leaves more questions than answers.
Tonally, the film never seems to settle on whether to be dark or silly. It consistently switches between creepy and serious to being extremely over-the-top and cheesy. While Burton’s films are known for their mixture of frights and fun, “Peregrine” never finds the right balance, which also makes it harder to tell whether the film is aimed towards younger or older audiences.
The cast of “Peregrine” is mostly forgettable. Butterfield starts off the film emotionless and, while his acting does get better as the plot progresses, he’s never able to carry the movie on his own. Jackson’s Barron, as well as his evil group of companions, also come across as poorly thought-out and even laughably bad at times. The villains never really provide a sense of fear or intimidation. Eva Green, on the other hand, does well as Peregrine, but the character is largely underused.
A lack of screentime and character development make it hard to care about most of the children as well. While two or three get a decent amount of attention, the rest fade into the background, only showing up again when the story needs it.
Visually, “Peregrine” is similar to Burton’s other works, providing nice shots and landscapes with lots of greys and muted colors. The film shines brightest with its fantastic costumes and set design by focusing on the gothic clothing and buildings Burton is known for. Unfortunately, poor CGI and some oddly used stop-motion animation quickly draw attention away from the more natural look of the film.
While “Peregrine” looks nice, peculiar choices in regards to the plot, acting and tone of the film make it one of Burton’s weaker and less memorable works.