Review:'Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children' would have been a great film ten years ago

Secret ending? No.

Running time: 127 minutes (~2 hours)

“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” is a fantasy adventure film about a secret race of super powered humans living in cloistered time loops. They find themselves in grave danger when their hiding places are exposed. 

It stars Eva Green (Miss Alma LeFay Peregrine), Asa Butterfield (Jake Portman), Chris O'Dowd (Franklin Portman), Terence Stamp (Abraham Portman), Judi Dench (Miss Esmeralda Avocet), Ella Purnell (Emma Bloom), and Samuel L. Jackson (Mr Barron). It is rated PG-13.

The immense challenge that “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” faces is the fact that we’re already saturated by stories of super powered beings, so any story about the discovery of a secret world of super powers has to avoid retreading the same standard tropes. 

Unfortunately, “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” doesn’t offer anything new on that front (besides some macabre scenes), and the mentor character (Miss Peregrine) herself is insufferable, even though the Peculiar Children are rather cute.

Highlights

Asa Butterfield and the cast for the Peculiar Children are quite adorable

While Asa Butterfield (Jake Portman) might look too eager to please in posters, he’s actually a rather endearing protagonist who has his emotions tugged in different directions. To top it off, he’s not only filial, but a secretly romantic fellow (as the final Act will show you). 

His performance as Jake is probably one of the most underrated aspects of the film. The Peculiar Children are also adorable little creatures of frightening power, and their innocence is what makes their performances touching but natural.

Letdowns

Eva Green’s overacting

Eva Green channels as much Mary Poppins and stiff upper lip Britishness into Miss Peregrine as she can, so much so that she seems like a caricature of Mary Poppins at times. One or two demonstrations of how exact and proper she is would be enough — we don’t need her to glimpse at her pocket watch every two scenes. 

Her desperate attempt to keep her posture as straight as possible makes it seem like the producers have no idea what Miss Peregrine’s character is, apart from the fact that she’s vaguely birdlike.

Terribly exaggerated colour correction

“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” is so afraid that you won’t be able to catch the nuances of the different locations that it turns the dial up to eleven on colour correction in both directions. Either it’s a drab, dreary blue or an impossibly chirpy gold. Whatever editing software was used for this film certainly needs to be updated or thrown away.

Plot logic (or lack thereof)

The Peculiar Children boast several incredibly powerful characters amongst them, some who have an instant kill power and others who control the elements. 

Yet they’re unable to take down opponents who have similar or weaker powers? They’re children, true, but if you can instantly kill someone with your abilities, why does that make anyone a threat to you? Why doesn’t the film ever address this glaring loophole?

Only picks up halfway in Act Two

“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” drags its heels so long in the reveal of a secret world and special powers that you’re dying to hit someone on the head with a mallet and tell them to just accept the oddness of the world and get on with it. It only picks up midway through the film, when the central conflict is established and the threats and stakes are revealed. By then you’re so exhausted with the speed of the plot that okay, you’re just going along for the ride.

“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” would have been a great film ten years ago.

Should you watch this for free? Yes.

Should you watch this at weekday movie ticket prices? If you’ve read the book or you like superhero/fantasy films, yes.

Score: 2.5/5

“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” opens in cinemas:
- 29 September 2016 (Singapore)
- 29 September 2016 (Malaysia)
- 28 September 2016 (Philippines)

Marcus Goh is a Singapore television scriptwriter. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. He Tweets/Instagrams at Optimarcus and writes at marcusgohmarcusgoh.com. The views expressed are his own.