Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

September 30, 2016 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews

Starring: Asa Butterfield, Eva Green, Samuel L. Jackson
Directed by: Tim Burton (“Big Eyes”)
Written by: Jane Goldman (“X-Men: First Class”)

Filmmaker Tim Burton has made an entire career out of being “peculiar.” Even when its putting his own spin on an established franchise, Burton’s gothic, eccentric stamp (at least stylistically) is an omnipresent factor in most of his films. Even when making poor films, Burton is hired to be Burton and is rarely a director for hire. Perhaps that’s why it is so surprising that his new film, “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” has zero identity.

After the loss of his grandfather, Jake (Asa Butterfield) decides to investigate a place that he has only heard about and seen in pictures. As a home for kids with certain “peculiarities,” Jake explores the vast land of special powered children and their leader, Miss Peregrine (Eva Green). He finds, however, that as special as these children are, danger within them also lies ahead.

For having a decent cast of well known actors, nobody other than Green really makes a mark. Butterfield looks and feels too old to be convincing as the age of the character he is playing, Samuel L. Jackson hams it up as the main villain and Ella Purnell, while certainly looking the part, is bland. It isn’t entirely the fault of the actors, as the script is generic and boring.

“Miss Peregrine’s” feels like an odd hodgepodge of popular young adult series, and sort of meanders for its way too long run time. It flirts with some interesting concepts, and “powers,” so to speak, but at the end of the day, nothing happening on screen is interesting in anyway. The dialogue is dull and stilted and, narratively, the film goes nowhere.

There’s a scene at a boardwalk that is actually one of the very few, but very fleeting bright moments of the film. Bringing out some odd skeleton characters for a big battle, there is at least something intriguing happening on the screen that feels at least mildly entertaining. It is here, and only here, that the film actually feels like a Tim Burton movie.

When watching the film, Burton fans will be looking for his fingerprints, but will find nothing. In fact, it is the film that bares the least of his characteristics than any of his career. There is nothing special, let alone exceptional about any of it, and it truly feels like it could have been directed by anyone else. His artistic vision is unquestionably unique, but for Burton to be successful, his movies need to match his vision with a sense of whimsy. This film, however, is dead on arrival. The most peculiar thing about “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” is how soulless it really is.

Dark Shadows

May 11, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfieffer, Eva Green
Directed by: Tim Burton (“Alice in Wonderland”)
Written by: Seth Grahame-Smith (debut)

Since the days of “Edward Scissorhands,” the cinematic pairing of director Tim Burton with mega-star Johnny Depp has brought with it certain expectations: a Gothic tone, a chilly color palette, and Depp in some form of fright wig/pancake make-up combination. When it works, as in “Scissorhands” or “Sweeny Todd,” it’s a delightful marriage of style and quirk. When it doesn’t, however, as in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” or “Alice in Wonderland,” the end result is an exhausting mess of, well, style and quirk. But in a bad way.

In their eighth collaborative effort, Burton and Depp tackle a project seemingly tailor-made for their sensibilities: a big-screen adaptation of “Dark Shadows,” the cult TV soap opera from the late-’60s best known for it’s main character, vampire Barnabas Collins. Depp, of course, plays Collins, who narrates a grim prologue detailing his youth spent in colonial Maine. As the son of a wealthy fishing family, Collins meets with tragedy after romantically spurning Angelique (Eva Green), a family housekeeper who also happens to be a witch. Soon afterward, Collins’ parents are killed in an accident engineered by Angelique. She is also responsible for Collins’ fiancee Josette (Bella Heathcote) being bewitched into throwing herself off a cliff, as well as Collins himself being cursed to live out eternity as a vampire buried alive in a locked coffin.

The story jumps ahead to 1972 as a young woman, Victoria (also Bella Heathcote), travels to Collinwood to take a job as a governess for what remains of the Collins family. Led by matriarch Elizabeth (Michelle Pfieffer) and featuring weaselly brother Roger (Jonny Lee Miller), rebellious teenager Carolyn (Chloe Grace Moretz) and haunted child David (Gully McGrath), the family is in shambles both financially and emotionally. The arrival of Victoria is meant to bring stability to David, who is grieving the loss of his mother. However Victoria has her own problems, namely a tragic childhood and ghost that looks just like her prowling the halls of the sprawling mansion passing on cryptic messages. And all of this happens before a construction crew accidentally frees Barnabas Collins, whose return prompts retaliatory action from the still-living Angelique (now known as Angel, the town’s powerful fishing magnate) as well as a whole mess of fish-out-of-water jokes. Crap, I haven’t even gotten to the fact that Helena Bonham Carter and Jackie Earl Haley are hanging around Collinwood, too.

If you think that sounds like too much plot and too many characters for a movie running just under 2 hours, you’re right. Threads are picked up and dropped at a moment’s notice. Heathcote’s Victoria is saddled with a laborious back story that fails to pay off in any way. On the flip side, Moretz’s Carolyn is given an out-of-left-field third act twist that’s explained away by one throwaway line of dialogue. Helena Bonham Carter’s Dr. Hoffman doesn’t offer much to the story beyond an eye-rolling set up for a sequel that is likely dead on arrival. And even with a fine performance by Depp, Collins is given little to do but stalk from plot point to plot point to deliver wry lines in an aristocratic accent. Pair things like that with a wildly inconsistent tone that veers on a whim from straight-faced melancholy to winking dry humor and we’re left with another tiresome disappointment from Burton wherein the only element given any attention seems to have been Johnny Depp’s make-up.