Directed by Tim Burton, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children premiered in theaters this past weekend and is both beautifully touching and awesomely twisted. Burton’s film adaptation of Ransom Rigg’s book, published in 2011, tells the story of a boy named Jake (Asa Butterfield) who traces his recently deceased grandfather’s footsteps back in time to a children’s home on a Welsh island. The home serves as a safe zone for children, called peculiars, with extremely unusual abilities and the defensive magic of their caretaker, Miss Peregrine (Eva Green), keeps certain dangers at bay. However, when the is threatened by monsters called Hollows, Jake must embrace his own peculiarities to save the lives of his new-found friends.
This film embodies the best of Burton, from magical stop-motion animation to dark plots that bring forth messages of light. Though the film is primarily live-action, Burton creatively incorporates his signature stop-motion technique into certain areas of the film. Burton uses stop-motion animation rather than popular CGI to add to the dark and creepy themes of this film. The combination of animation, effects, and live action make this an appealing movie to a wide range of audiences.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children also braids together the themes of Mary Poppins, X-Men, and Harry Potter for a fantastically “peculiar” cinematic experience unlike any other. Similarly to Mary Poppins, Miss Peregrine keeps a strict schedule and runs a tight ship. She cares deeply for her children and works to keep them safe above everything else. As in X-Men and Harry Potter, Miss Peregrine’s home is a safe-haven for the peculiar children as Professor X’s house was for his mutant students and as Hogwarts was for witches and wizards.
Though Miss Peregrine does encourage the children to embrace their peculiarities, she forbids them to use their gifts outside the home for fear they may attract Hollows or cause harm to the people in town. While safety is a priority early on in the movie, the concept that bravery is valued over safety is a central theme in Burton’s film. Though the gifts of these peculiars may seem either dark, twisted or insignificant, when Jake and the children bravely come together to protect each other from the Hollows, the value of their peculiarities shine through. Burton’s film teaches audiences that in bravely embracing our peculiarities rather than prioritizing personal safety, we live up to our true identities.
The acting in this movie is superb with Eva Green bringing to life sharp-eyed, quick-speaking, pocket-watch dependent Miss Peregrine, leaping straight from the pages of Rigg’s book to the big screen as a true Burton creation. Samuel L. Jackson keeps audiences both frightened and amused with his character Barron’s chillingly creepy demeanor and witty personality. Asa Butterfield and Ella Purnell have heart-gripping chemistry and thrive as soul-searching characters Jake and Emma, both leaders of their peculiar pack.
The film’s success is a testament to both the actors as well as the costume design team. Colleen Atwood’s costumes for Miss Peregrine, the children, the Hollows, and more added new depth to the film’s realness, encouraging audiences to forget that there is in fact actors behind the movie’s characters and added contrast between our world and the world of the peculiars.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a film filled to the brim with coming-of-age themes with an emphasis on coming into your own unique identity. With stunning cinematography, brilliant animation, and an inspiring and intricate plot-line, Burton gives audiences the best of his “peculiarities” and encourages viewers to embrace their own.