Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children Parent Review
The depicted teamwork and incredible visual effects are this big-budget production’s best features -- but the realism of the action also ups the fright factor.
There is nothing unusual or important about Jake Portman (Asa Butterfield). Nothing, except perhaps his close relationship with his Grandpa Abe (Terence Stamp). So when the family receives a frantic phone call from the dementia sufferer, it is Jake who is sent to check out the situation. What the teen discovers proves life changing.
Arriving at his grandfather’s Florida dwelling, Jake finds the house ransacked and the screen door torn apart. Out back the elderly gentleman lies dead with his eyes missing and a bloodied kitchen utensil in his hands. Amazingly, the corpse speaks to him for a moment and imparts a cryptic message. The boy also catches a glimpse of a creepy looking man with white eyes, and some sort of monstrous beast. Although the authorities blame the incident on a dog attack, the confused youth is having trouble accepting their conclusion. After some counseling, his psychiatrist (Allison Janney) encourages Jake to visit the old man’s childhood home (which was mentioned during their final conversation) and see if that helps him find closure.
With his father (Chris O’Dowd) as a reluctant companion, Jake reaches the small island off the coast of Wales where young Abe lived in an orphanage. But it turns out the building was bombed during WWII, and all that is left is a tumbled down ruin. Disappointed, Jake decides to explore the site anyways. And that is when he stumbles upon the peculiar children who lived there during his grandfather’s time.
At first, he thinks they are ghosts. However, when he meets their guardian Miss Peregrine (Eva Green), she explains that he has simply traveled back in time where she and the other residents live in a loop that plays the same day over and over. She next introduces Jake to her gifted charges, such as Olive (Lauren McCrostie) whose touch can start a fire, Emma (Ella Purnell) who can float on air and Enoch (Finlay MacMillan) who has the morbid ability to put hearts (which he keeps in specimen bottles) into dead creatures or inanimate objects, and bring them to life. All of these people are very familiar to Jake, because when he was little his Grandpa told him stories about them.
Sadly, the delight of the visit changes when Jake becomes aware of the dangerous enemies that are stalking the peculiars – a group of white-eyed people (their leader is played by Samuel L. Jackson) who are accompanied by monstrous beasts. The tone of the movie changes at this point too. While it was a little creepy before, the screenplay now delves into the disturbing, with characters performing horrific experiments, portrayals of terrifying transformations and ghoulish depictions of creatures feasting on eyeballs. The carcasses of animals and dead people with empty eye sockets are shown. Ultimately, a life and death battle between the good and bad guys erupts, which includes weapon use, monster attacks and walking skeletons.
It is true that the conflict bonds the children together, and they begin to use their unique talents to protect themselves. That teamwork and the incredible visual effects are the big-budget production’s best features. Yet the realism of the action is sure to up the fright factor for young audiences.
Based on a book by Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will likely appeal to those who sometimes feel like they don’t quite belong (discovering a secret ability that makes you special seems to have universal appeal). And the time travel premise is interesting. Still, the graphic images in this X-men-meet-Harry-Potter-like tale will likely make it more suitable for only the oldest of those longing to see it.Directed by Tim Burton. Starring Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Samuel L. Jackson. Running time: 127 minutes. Theatrical release September 30, 2016. Updated December 12, 2016
Get details on profanity, sex and violence in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children here.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children Parents Guide
The character of Jake feels isolated, alone and like nothing he does makes a difference. Why are these feelings so universal? What things does he discover about himself that make him unique? What abilities might you have that make you special? How can we focus on those talents during times when we are tempted to believe we are unimportant?
Although the peculiar children all have unusual skills, they really don’t use them. What happens to change that? How does using their abilities help them change from feeling like victims to feeling like they have some control over their destinies?
Miss Peregrine’s goal is to keep protect her children. In what ways does that keep them safe and make them more vulnerable at the same time? Why are some of them getting tired of their cloistered life? Why are both good and bad experiences necessary for personal growth?