Friday, 7 October 2016

Burton's Miss Peregrine stutteringly takes flight

Tim Burton’s new film, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, is a slow burner, but by the time the final credits roll, it has enough going for it that you care about what happens.

Florida teenager Jake Portman has grown up with his grandfather Abe’s tall stories about living in a home for children with strange abilities.

After he finds his grandfather’s mutilated body, Jake is set on a path to try to uncover the truth about those stories – and finds himself at the centre of a time-bending struggle against a group of monsters.

Based on Ransom Riggs’s 2011 debut novel of the same name, Burton’s film captures the darkness of the fantasy and the alienating sense of feeling ‘different’, although as a part allegory of the Holocaust it can feel a little clunky at times and even, in a fairground scene late on, flirts with bad taste.

Visually, it’s a delight to look at and the special effects are top-notch.

Burton gets good performances from a large ensemble that teams unknown child actors with some big stars.

French actor and model Eva Green is excellent as a the eponymous Miss Peregrine, while Terence Stamp and Judi Dench add their considerable talents as Jake’s grandfather and the headmistress of a home similar to Miss Peregrine’s.

Samuel L Jackson is in fine form as the lead villain, Mr Barron (spot the nods toward Baron Samedi and zombies), and it’s always good to see Allison Janney getting big-screen time.

Of the children, Asa Butterfield as Jake and Ella Purnell turn in lovely performances as the leading figures in the story, and Burton ensures that even with so many children involved, it never veers into tweeness or sentimentality.

It doesn’t come close to Burton’s best work, but it has many charms and is certainly an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours.

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