When you hear the title, “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children,” you automatically think fantasy story. You should. Think of “Miss Peregrine’s” as the lovechild of “Harry Potter” and “Mary Poppins” (without the musical numbers, thank God!). Both are popular books, by the way.
Admittedly, I did not read the “Miss Peregrine” series by Ransom Riggs, but it must have done well to get its own movie.
Jake (Asa Butterfield), a teenage outcast, yearns for a purpose in his normal life. After a shift of stocking underwear at the supermarket, Jake gets a call from his dad to check on his grandfather.
Abe Portman (Terence Stamp), Jake’s “mentally-ill” grandfather, lives near the woods. When he arrives, the screen door has a gigantic hole and Abe is missing. Jake goes into the woods with a bloodstained flashlight to look for clues. He stumbles over his grandfather’s lifeless body with missing eyeballs! Abe’s last words for Jake are to visit the children’s home he attended on an island near Wales.
Jake and his dad (Chris O’Dowd) voyage to the gloomy island after Jake’s therapist (Allison Janney) insists. After sneaking out of the hotel, Jake visits the abandoned home and runs into a girl with red hair (Lauren McCrostie) and an invisible boy wearing clothes (Cameron King).
They take him into a cave and suddenly, the children’s home appears brand new. The trees are greener and the sun is shining. Jake meets Miss Peregrine (Eva Green) and more children including Abe’s longtime friend, Emma (Ella Purnell).
Miss Peregrine, with her whimsy Mary Poppins magic, can manipulate time to keep the date on Sept. 3, 1943. This keeps the home from turning to ashes by a Nazi missile. The children never age and they live the same day over and over again.
Abe was the only peculiar child who left the home and grew up. He told Jake about his adventures through bedtime stories. Jake believed them while others thought they were rubbish. Soon, Jake questioned if Abe was lying to him.
With good, there are also bad peculiars. Barron (Samuel L. Jackson) is one of them. He’s an evil scientist who wants to steal powers from peculiars like Miss Peregrine, who can manipulate time, and use them to become immortal.
“Miss Peregrine’s” contains the key elements of a good fantasy movie. Children with special powers/gifts, an elder to guide and protect them and a villain that uses his power/gift for evil. A funny scene was when Jake had to tie a rope around Emma’s waist to keep her from floating away, since she’s lighter than air, while she returned a baby squirrel to its tree.
Like Harry Potter, Jake is brave and would do anything to protect his friends. He finds it difficult to live a normal life, no matter how hard he tries.
Jackson makes a true villain and has witty lines similar to his roles in Marvel films and “The Legend of Tarzan.” When Emma was blowing air at him he said, “You’re going to run out of breath eventually.” He even said she needed a mint.
“Miss Peregrine’s” is a great film for the Halloween season containing magic, mayhem and even a few walking skeletons.
Studio: Twentieth Century Fox (2hr. 7 min.)
Cast: Asa Butterfield, Terence Stamp, Eva Green, Ella Purnell, Finlay MacMillan, Lauren McCrostie, Hayden Keeler-Stone, Georgia Pemberton, Raffiella Chapman, Samuel L. Jackson.
Story: A boy travels to his grandfather’s old children’s home for peculiar children to stop an evil villain.
Final Score: B-
This review was first published on Blackflix.com