Yesterday was my roommate Jasmine’s birthday. Last week when we were visiting Wicked Good Books in downtown Salem, Jasmine noticed a movie tie in edition of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs and had an impulse to buy it, which she acted upon yesterday when she returned to downtown Salem to do some birthday shopping. I suggested that we go to see the movie of the book that’s recently come out. Jasmine and I had decided that we go to Omega Pizza for dinner and then take a taxi to Museum Place Mall where the Salem Cinema is. We looked about in the shops until seven, when the movie began.
I have never been to the Salem Cinema before. It is a tiny movie theater in a corner of the Museum Place Mall which took me a while to find again when we returned around seven. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was shown in one of the larger auditoriums. A couple of weeks ago, I considered going to see this film but decided to go see Storks instead because it was getting better reviews but I was curious about it because it looked like something I might enjoy.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is based on a young adult novel of the same name by Ransom Riggs. It follows a teenaged boy named Jake (Asa Butterfield) who travels to a remote island off the coast of Wales to find the orphanage where his recently deceased grandfather Abe (Terence Stamp) lived during the 1940s. Jake discovers that the orphanage exists in a time loop and resets every twenty-four hours to the day where the building was destroyed by a German air raid during World War II. This time loop exists to protect a group of children with special abilities (known as Peculiars) who live under the care of the titular Miss Peregrine (Eva Green), who has the ability to reset time and turn into a peregrine falcon. Jake grows close to the peculiars, specifically Emma Bloom (Ella Purnell), an aerokinetic girl who can manipulate air, and discovers that he has inherited his grandfather’s “peculiarity”: being able to see hollowgasts or “hollows”, creatures who were besieging the orphanage, lead by Mr. Barron (Samuel L. Jackson).
One detail which gives the story an interesting subtext is that it is implied that Jake’s family is Jewish and his grandfather Abe (Jake and Abe being short for the traditionally Jewish names Jacob and Abraham) fled his native Poland during the holocaust. Abe told Jake that he left Poland because he was being troubled by monsters. Jake’s father tells him that “there were monsters in Poland…just not the type you think.” and that they wanted to get rid of everyone who was different, hence why Miss Peregrine’s wards might have needed protecting during the 1940s.
The story has an interesting premise and the visually interesting production design has director Tim Burton’s fingerprints all over it.
If anything, Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children is good looking.
I came into this film knowing it was getting mixed reviews and after seeing it my conclusion is that its concept is brilliant and its execution is competent if filled with YA cliches. Eva Green as Miss Peregrine gave a compelling performance. The character of Jake, played by Asa Butterfield, was fairly bland but he is supposed to be the everyman/ audience surrogate. His love interest Emma Bloom was the type of prissy English girl character which annoys me. Samuel L. Jackson hams it up as Mr. Barron to a threatening yet hilarious degree. I would recommend this movie, if only for its interesting premise, and might watch it again sometime.