Sunday, 2 October 2016


Starring: Asa Butterfield, Eva green, Samuel L. Jackson, Terence Stamp, Allison Janney, Ella Purnell, Chris O'Dowd, Rupert Everett, Dame Judi Dench, Lauren McCrostie, Cameron King, Pixie Davies, Georgia Pemberton, Finlay MacMillan, Milo Parker, Raffiella Chapman, Hayden Keeler-Stone and Joseph and Thomas Odwell.

Written by Jane Goldman, directed by Tim Burton. Budget $110 million. Running time 127 minutes long.

As far as I could work out the plot is as follows, Asa Butterfield is Jacob Portman a 16 boy whose grandfather (Terence Stamp) dies in his arms, in mysterious circumstances and without his eyes, and who, with his dying breath urges his grandson to find Miss Peregrine who he tells him is located somewhere in a Welsh children's home back in 1943. So Jacob and his father – work-shy twitcher and writer, Franklin Portman (Chris O'Dowd) travel to Wales as part of Jake's grieving process and before you can say, 'Jesus, aren't films involving multiple time lines confusing', Jake is traveling back and forth through time portals and getting embroiled in a school filled with a half-dozen children with incredible, dare I say peculiar powers. There they live the same day over and over, frozen in time, as they dodge German Luftwaffe bombing missions, eyeless, tentacle-mouthed monsters roaming the countryside and a mysterious, white-eyed baddy called The Baron, played perfectly by Samuel L. Jackson. Naturally he's hunting the peculiars for his own hideous reasons, which might or might not have something to do with the eyeball missing thingie. Added to that lot are a slew of convoluted plot points that takes 2/3rds of the film to explain ending just in time for the final act and the showdown  in Blackpool of 2016 between the peculiars and the Baron's 'hollow' men who are invisible to even the Baron. Then it's time for a huge, bewildering fight between the kids, whose numbers are bolstered by an army of skeletons brought back to life by one of the Peculiars and the Baron and his Hollow Men.

The critics have been cruel to this film, probably due to the fact that once media darling Tim Burton has so obviously lost his mojo having not made a good film since 1994's Ed Wood.

However despite that, this is a beautiful to look at film, with some simply superb art direction. and a very likeable young cast lead by Asa and Allison Janney. The actual peculiar kids are a treat each demonstrating  unique and interesting peculiar abilities and much praise must be given to just how impressively and truly scary this film is. But be warned, this film is a 12A for a reason. Seriously very young kids are going to be scared witless by at least three of the nightmarish sequences, in particular the scene where the eyeless Hollow Men devour, with relish, a literal pile of human eyeballs plucked from the corpses of peculiar children.

Although this is also what makes this film so impressive, it's not afraid to scare its target audience and it'll be the parents to balk first, kids will love the gross out, blood-free gore, and the nightmarish images nearly all of which are refreshing new. You'll find yourself slowly sucked in to this wonderful and grotesque world of lovable freaks.

It's not a perfect film, as already said it's a film that spends at least the first 80 minutes establishing not only the world it's set in, the plot and the plans of the villain who, to be honest, isn't introduced properly until the start of the third act.

And it's actually in the third act when the film sadly loses momentum and you find yourself gasping and groaning in frustration at the actions of Asa's Jake who proves to be a truly inept hero, several time you feel like shouting at the screen as he bungles and stumbles through situations. Likewise the film which has so carefully avoided being too childish falls for a Saint Trinians style battle with the Hollow Men armed with only snowballs, candy floss and some jelly snakes which just stops short of being cringe-worthy.

My kids loved this both of the scoring it an 8 and overall this was a very entertaining and enjoyable YA romp which for once didn't feature a dystopic, post-apocalyptic world filled with chaste, unrequited love and pale faced vampires.

Defo worth a look. 8/10

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