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Friday, October 22, 2021

A mix of everything Burton

CINDY CHEUNG / AGGIE
CINDY CHEUNG / AGGIE

Review of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

 

This story is a match made in heaven for Tim Burton: spooky powers, eerie villains and everything peculiar with a star-studded cast to boot. With a release just in time for Halloween, this is one film I definitely recommend for anyone wanting a little adventure.

This movie is about a young boy, Jake (Asa Butterfield), whose normal life is flipped upside down when he discovers Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Peculiars are people with special powers and Miss Peregrine’s is a home where they can live safe from the outside world. They live in a time loop, which means that everyone experiences the same 24 hours over and over again as long as they stay in the house. When Jake finds their loop, trouble ensues. But the more he stays with the children, the more he becomes part of their family and learns that he himself has a power.

The cast includes Eva Green as Miss Peregrine — a pipe-smoking caretaker for orphaned children — and Samuel L. Jackson as a funny yet terrifying villain who attempts to interrupt the peace of Miss Peregrine’s home. But despite Jackson’s cleverness and Green’s control, it’s the kids who are the real scene-stealers. This seems to be a common trend currently, with the success of the adorable and talented Stranger Things kids taking over the world. The character of Emma, played by Ella Purnell, is the emotional center of the film and steals everyone’s hearts.

But besides the plot line, the cinematography is also breathtaking. The story takes place in a small town in Wales where the grass is green and the ocean is rocky, but even the shots in Florida are aesthetically pleasing. The relaxed feel of the Florida suburbs and long highways gives the audience a feeling of comfort, albeit a short-lived one.

The title sequence is very Tim Burton-esque, but when the movie itself begins, there is a harsh contrast: it shows a bright beach with the Florida state sign in the corner of the screen. This is uncharacteristic of a Tim Burton film, as his work tends towards dark colors and low light. However, he often takes dark concepts and somehow turns them into light-hearted films. This movie is no different. In fact, there are many deaths in the movie, but they somehow seemed to wash over me. I realized they were a part of a bigger story, and there was no need to dwell on the excessive death, or I might have missed something integral to the story.

Half of the movie occurs in the present day, but the other half is set in 1943 during World War II. Despite this, the contrast of time was not shoved in your face, and I often forgot about it. Given the time period, designer Colleen Atwood’s costumes are almost fairytale-like for the peculiars. One of Miss Peregrine’s peculiarities is her ability to turn into a blue bird, which is reflected in her costume. She wears a blue dress, keeps her hair in an updo that looks like a bird’s nest and rocks some intense black winged eyeliner. The rest of the children wear bright, tailored clothing well-suited to the 1940s.

The creepy monsters, called hollowgasts, look like scarier versions of Jack from Burton’s earlier film The Nightmare Before Christmas. The movie plays like a combination of all of Burton’s most recognized work: the Victorian home is similar to the one in Dark Shadows, freaks are separated from society as in Edward Scissorhands and there is even a resemblance of characters from The Nightmare Before Christmas.

But this Tim Burton film is unlike his others; there is a more human aspect present despite its supernatural essence. More importantly, the idea that there are endless opportunities for exploration only further excited me, and I hope it leaves others with the same feeling.
Written by: CaraJoy Kleinrock – arts@theaggie.org

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