Burton’s 'Home for Peculiar Children' brings magic to life

A still from the trailer of "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children." (Screenshot/YouTube) 

On Friday the 30th, “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” directed by Tim Burton was released in theaters. Bringing a great balance of fantasy, thrills and romance, this movie is sure to not disappoint any viewer. A certain level of dark creepiness and impending doom can be felt through the majority of the movie, leaving no doubt of who its director is.

The movie opens at main character Jake’s hometown in suburban Florida where he finds his grandfather gruesomely murdered. While he is trying to call 911, Jake sees a monster in the trees which sparks his memory of the bed-time stories his grandfather used to tell him about the home for peculiar children and horrible monsters. His dying wish to Jake was to find Miss Peregrine, the head of the orphanage from the stories. Jake’s parents enlist a psychiatrist thinking he is mentally ill. This seems to be a pattern in the family, as Jake’s grandfather was dismissed as having dementia.

Jake’s father reluctantly takes him to an island of the coast of Wales to find the orphanage. When he finally finds the gothic home, it is only a frame, having been destroyed by a Nazi bomb. Eventually we learn that the children and Miss Peregrine are still there but stuck in a time loop to protect them. Miss Peregrine is not only able to change into a bird, but is also very conscious of time and has the ability to manipulate it.

Jake enters the time loop with the help of the children and eventually falls for Emma, whose ‘peculiarity’ is air. She is able to manipulate air and has to wear iron shoes to keep her from floating away. His love interest and Jake’s thirst for answers to explain what happened to his grandfather keeps him around. He finds out that he also is a peculiar, meant to save the others from monsters.

One of the main issues I find in this film is that lack of character development. The first hour and a half explains the fantasy world very thoroughly, but doesn’t give much of a personality to the characters- even Jake. According to Angie Han in a review on Slash Film, “By the end of the movie, I still couldn’t have told you a single personality trait he possessed.” The result of this was a lack of attachment to the characters.

“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” is a beautifully designed film and pays attention to detail. The dichotomy of light vs dark repeats itself throughout the film, and the characters come to life within the convincing fantasy. Miss Peregrine is evidently birdlike from her stiff black hair to the sharpness of her jacket and eye-makeup. The underwater scene is absolutely magical, with the architecture of the sunken ship and the ‘whoosh’ of the wave as Emma forces the water out of the ship. Burton does an excellent job of painting the scenes and making the characters along with their peculiarities believable.

Rating: 8/10

Cynthia Reinert is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at cynthia.reinert@uconn.edu