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Blu-ray Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

December 20, 2016

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

miss-peregrines-home-for-peculiar-children-blu-rayWhen his grandfather (Terence Stamp) is murdered by a vicious monster, Jake (Asa Butterfield) discovers a mystery that takes him to an old children’s home in Wales.  Run by shapeshifting headmistress Miss Peregrine (Eva Green), the house provides residency for children who all have their own unique special powers.

But the house exists in its own time loop, an alternate version of a day during WWII in 1943 to be specific, and the loop has to be reset every night before an airstrike wipes them out.  When their location is discovered by the evil Barron (Samuel L. Jackson), the existence of the peculiars is threatened, and it’s up to Jake to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps and help save them.

Based on the bestselling novel by Ransom Riggs, a dark delight that spawned two sequels and was unique for the way it wove old black and white photos into its narrative, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a film that feels like a natural fit for director Tim Burton.  But it is also weighted down by some of the same problems that have plagued a few of his other recent works, starting with the fact that the film condenses the book’s intricate narrative into just over two hours, which leaves less time for character development.

The film also removes the cliffhanger ending of the novel to deliver a somewhat hurried climax that allows it to play more as a standalone adventure, and Samuel L. Jackson’s take on the villain feels much too campy just when the film should be getting scarier.  These problems are all the more frustrating for those of us who loved the book.  But Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children thankfully still boasts enough of the old Tim Burton wonder to work on its own, including sculpted hedges reminiscent of Edward Scissorhands, and a skeleton fight that pays tribute Ray Harryhausen.

The director brings enough of his own macabre touches to the material to make this a largely successful adaptation, and the film is actually better than many of his other recent big studio efforts.  Although the book is better, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is an often entertaining film that is worth seeing for the cool production design and fine cast, including a ravishing performance by Eva Green, who fits the title role perfectly.  This is a good fantasy film based on a great book.

The Blu-ray also includes four featurettes that touch on the origins of the story, different characters and time travel elements, as well as the music video for Florence + The Machine’s “Wish You Were Here” and a gallery of photographs and sketches by Tim Burton.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment release.  It’s 127 minutes and rated PG.

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