Tim Burton has always been one of those directors who is known for his distinctive style, but his style has always seemed a little less fully formed than others.
Outside of hits such as “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and “Batman,” Burton has directed a variety of films with less-than-stellar characters and little direction. Think “Alice in Wonderland,” “Dark Shadows” and “Big Eyes” if you saw these box office flops at all.
Burton’s newest film, “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children,” is a similar example of one of his less-accomplished films.
“Peculiar Children” suffers from a lot of what his other films have suffered from — Burton’s choice to favor aesthetic design over story.
What does aesthetic over story mean? It means that instead of having interesting, fully formed characters, Burton favors characters that are interesting to look at. Or, instead of having interesting dialogue, Burton employs cliches and traditional tropes that were worn-out before I was born.
“Peculiar Children” suffers from all these woes, with the addition of some stilted acting on the part of Asa Butterfield and Samuel L. Jackson thrown in.
The story, although not the most interesting, moves along steadily enough. But beyond just the story, which was taken from a series of books by the same name, the movie falls flat.
Although Burton’s aesthetic is apparent throughout the film, the style feels like a dim shadow of Burton’s darker and arguably better work.
Instead of having the gothic allure of films like “Batman,” this one seems like a children’s film trying to be edgy. It’s a little overlit, a little too glossy and above all just too boring to enjoy.
Nothing is captivating in this movie; all of Burton’s half-hearted aesthetic could’t save it from being a watered-down version of Burton’s brand of filmmaking.
Even the peculiar children are boring. Their peculiarities may be strange but are pointless. A boy with bees inside of him? A girl with a mouth on the back of her head? Why? The kids’ powers in the movie are about as inconsequential as their characters — not only are they basically stand-in characters, they contribute nothing to the film’s plot.
The film has all these flaws and they still decided to bring time travel into the story. Time travel in film is always a bad bet; not only is it confusing for the average viewer, but closer inspection usually just reveals larger plot holes.
The film’s lead, Jake, travels back and forth through time through peculiar homes that are “stuck in time.” I was only left with questions afterward … so many questions. Why was Jake not stuck in time, but his grandfather was, even though in the future he wasn’t? Why was Jake able to go from one stuck day to another? How did the stuck days not stop all time? I’m no astrophysicist, but I doubt the average viewer is either.
The film is purposeless besides an attempt to start another franchise, and it possesses very little form or style worth noting. This movie is bland, confusing and lazy. Let this one fade like many of Burton’s other films.
Blake Nelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @b_e_nelson.