Entertainment Weekly

Subscribe

Stay Connected

Subscribe

Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content

Article

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children reviews

Posted on

Jay Maidment

In the age of superhero films that are filled to the brim with muscle and spandex, Tim Burton brings us unlikely tween heroes with “peculiar” superpowers in his film adaptation of Ransom Riggs’ best-selling novel, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. The novel’s plot seemed to be a perfect film for Burton to take on, with his famous gothic aesthetic and mind-blowing images. But did it deliver? Many critics have been giving mixed reviews. 

EW’s Devan Coggan gave the film a B-, writing, “To compete with Burton’s best, his heroic weirdos need a little more heart—and the monsters need sharper teeth.”

Read on for more of Coggan’s thoughts, as well as a few takes from other critics.

Devan Coggan (Entertainment Weekly)

“Miss Peregrine has all the visual hallmarks of your classic Burton—a child with teeth on the back of her head, a girl who wears lead shoes to keep from floating away (Ella Purnell, swapping powers with another character from the book). But the film chooses style over substance, emphasizing how cool the children’s powers are without fleshing them out as full characters.”

Peter Debruge (Variety)

“Goldman’s frequently amusing script is the secret ingredient that makes Miss Peregrine such an appropriate fit for Burton’s peculiar sensibility, allowing the director to revisit and expand motifs and themes from his earlier work: With its time-skipping chronology and family-reconciling framing device, the entire tale could be another of Burton’s Big Fish stories (from the film of the same name); it offers opportunities for Frankenweenie-style stop-motion; there are ostracized freaks (and even a dino-shaped topiary) straight out of Edward Scissorhands; and its elaborate, meticulously decorated mansion manages to improve upon the wonky houses seen in Beetlejuice and Dark Shadows.”

Mark Kennedy (Associated Press)

“A somewhat ponderous first half leads to a hard-charging second, filled with ingenious fight-scenes, glorious ocean liners and sublime underwater moments. … The film should come with a Harry Potter-like warning for those allergic to new whimsical vocabulary terms like ‘ymbrines,’ ‘Hollows’ and ‘hollowgasts.’ But go with it. Your head will be in pain soon enough trying to make sense of the increasingly elaborate rules of time-travel and body shifting.”

A.A. Dowd (A.V. Club)

“For a while, Miss Peregrine’s gets by on such ghoulishness. The problem is that everything fun and resonant about the movie (like a boy whose eye works as a movie projector, unspooling his dreams onto the wall) ends up feeling rather ornamental. That’s because, for all of Burton’s twisted touches, the film adheres to the storytelling template of the worst YA: the endless mythology, the tired boy-meets-girl romance, the boring self-actualization arc.”

Stephanie Zacharek (TIME)

“But what’s happened to Burton’s gift for storytelling? In the movie’s second half, it’s impossible to follow the story’s gnarled-vine logic. The picture’s elegance devolves into chaos, a mess of noisy, cluttered action sequences, as if Burton didn’t trust us to sit still through something quieter, moodier and more controlled. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children could have been a return to form for Burton, but he loses his sense of direction halfway through. If only he could find his way back to his wild bread-crumb trail, the one that guided him so ably for years.”

David Ehrlich (IndieWire)

“At once both hopelessly trite and singularly Burton, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children argues that the world is full of wonder and magic that would fill us with purpose if only we could see it. It’s a nice idea, but this movie has no idea where we ought to be looking.”

Alonso Duralde (The Wrap)

“The film offers the occasional flash of delectable weirdness from the man who once gave us Beetlejuice and Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, but for most of its seemingly interminable running time, Miss Peregrine’s has all the breeziness and joy of wading through aspic. Working from a screenplay by Jane Goldman (Kingsman: The Secret Service), adapting the novel by Ransom Riggs, this film offers far too many scenes of characters explaining the plot — or worse, very deliberately not explaining it, simply to set up some unsurprising late-in-the-game reveals.”

Michael Phillips (Chicago Tribune)

“To be sure, the digital effects never quit in Miss Peregrine. The characters shoot fire from their fingers, levitate, spit millions of bees out of their mouths and transform into falcons, and at one point a dour Scots teen who’s into taxidermy animates a couple of mechanical creations for a stop-motion animation fight to the finish. It’s a nod to Burton’s fellow masters of fantasy cinema: In this corner, Ray Harryhausen! In that corner, the Brothers Quay! Still, in its most offhanded, delicate moments, the digital trickery comes with a bubble-light touch. It’s sad, then, to report that a lot of Burton’s latest screen fantasy is a chore.”

Comments