Sunday, October 9, 2016


Starring Eva Green,
Asa Butterfield,
Samuel L. Jackson,
Judi Dench,
Rupert Everett,
Allison Janney,
Chris O'Dowd,
Terrence Stamp
Directed by Tim Burton
Written by Jane Goldman
Based on the novel by Ransom Riggs
Runtime 127 minutes
Rated PG-13

          Another mostly fine film from Tim Burton.
          Remaining deliberately vague to preserve the story, suffice to say that when ill befalls the grandfather (Stamp) of a boy named Jake (Butterfield), Jake takes a trip to an island near Wales where he finds an eclectic group of weird kids with gnarly powers.
          These "peculiars" are governed by an equally peculiar instructor, Miss Peregrine (Green). Sort of X-Men meets Dark Shadows, with Miss Peregrine as Professor X. Neither of whom does too much teaching.
          By way of conflict, a faction of adult peculiars headed by Samuel L. Jackson.
          Although it's not one of Tim Burton's best films--Beetlejuice and Sleepy Hollow, for example--Peregrine's boasts an array of memorable moments. Each kid's peculiarity initially intrigues. One young gal is as strong as ten men, another lighter than air. One boy is invisible, and another can put a device to his eye which projects his dreams on a screen for others to see.
          Problem is, Peregrine's makes a better trailer (and poster) than it does a movie. It starts out slow and doesn't have much story. It's a bowl of soup all right, just not very savory.
          Unlike most of Burton's films, this one does not have music by Danny Elfman. Nor does it have Johnny Depp. Or Helena Bonham Carter. Nor is it based on something from fifty years ago. All these minuses add up to a movie that doesn't stand out in the repertoire. Which conceivably could be a plus. Either way, there it is.
          One thing Burton has never done is make a hardcore horror classic. Neither Rosemary's Baby nor The Shining could ever be possible for him. His films skew too young. That said, Burton can't be faulted for not being Alfred Hitchcock. And if he stopped making movies, cinema would be irrevocably diminished. It's good to live in a world where the real life Willy Wonka still makes candy. We should all recognize that.
          Peregrine's has humor. Peregrine's has charm. It has a sallow, lanky, dark-haired lad, unabashedly brims with the championship of the inner child, and right now doesn't have a whole lot of competition.
          Worth seeing on the big screen.

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