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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Oct 5, 2016

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children Movie Review: Engaging Storybook Adventure For Both Children And Their Parents

WHETHER HE’s doing family-oriented children’s stories, comic book adaptations or dark mystery flicks, Director Tom Burton is best known for his gothic and outlandish filmic styles, as seen in “Edward Scissorhands”, “Beetlejuice”, “Batman” (1989 version), “Sleepy Hollow”, “Corpse Bride”, “Sweeney Todd”, “Alice in Wonderland”.

His latest movie is “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”, based on the best selling novel for young adults by Ransom Riggs. The story seems like a twisted fairy tale about gifted children who are considered outcasts and living together in one house that will remind you of “X-men” combined with a coming of age story with a teen hero ala-Harry Potter on a journey of self discovery, plus the time travel element thrown in.

The film is told from the point of view of 16-year old Jake Portman (Asa Butterfield of “Hugo” and “Ender’s Game”). As a boy, his grandfather, Abe (Terence Stamp, looking so old and wrinkled here compared to the movie we remember him best, “The Collector”), would tell him personal tales about World War II and the special home for kids with supernatural abilities where he lived as a teenager.
One night, Jake comes home and sees his grandpa dying because of a monstrous creature no one else but him can see. He is brought to a psychiatrist to help sort out what is real from what is not in his grandpa’s stories that are deemed fantasies.

With his dad, he leaves their home in Florida to travel to an island in Wales hoping to visit Miss Peregrine’s sanctuary for odd kids. He somehow finds a way to see the fabled home, but it is now in ruins after having been bombed during the war. But wait, something magical will happen as he travels back to 1943 through the time travel trick called Loop, which gives Miss Peregrine (Eva Green, who has worked before with Tim Burton in “Dark Shadows”) the capability to make herself and her wards wake up every morning of September 3, 1943, and they never grow old, ala-”Ground Hog Day”.

Jake meets the peculiar children of the title. While it is Jake who moves the story forward, it’s Miss Peregrine, who can transform into a bird, and her wards that provide the movie’s most amusing moments. Among the children, the one with the biggest role is Emma Bloom (Ella Purnell, the young Angelina Jolie in “Maleficent”), who defies gravity so she has to wear heavy metal shoes for her not to just float away. Then there’s also Olive (Lauren McCrostie) whose hands can induce fire, a little girl who is super strong, another girl who can make plants and trees grow, a boy who can spew out bees from his mouth, an invisible boy, a teen boy who can move objects, a girl who has a big mouth with sharp teeth at the back of her head, and others. Each of them get their own heroic moment in the course of the movie.

The film’s main villain is Mr. Barron (Samuel L. Jackson), who has sharp jagged teeth and has no eyes. He and his ferocious cohorts called Wights and Hollows eat the eyes of peculiar children to survive. In the climactic finale, the Wights and Hollows fight with skeletons who come from a sunken ship brought to the surface by Emma. One of the most memorable scenes in the movie shows Emma taking Jake under the sea to visit the ship and blowing out the water away so they can have air inside the submerged ship.

The movie is a bit long at more than two hours and some parts could have been hastened to quicken the pacing, but all in all, it’s a pretty engrossing storybook adventure that would appeal to both children and their parents. This is a trilogy of books but the first movie doesn’t end on a cliffhanger as the plot threads are all resolved. Now that the movie is the number one release last week at the U.S. box office, there is no doubt that a sequel would eventually be in the offing.