MISS PEREGRINES HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN
For Burton however, the 2000s and after became a lost cause that saw most of those who celebrated his name in the 1980s and 90s greeting each new work he turned out with disappointment and eventual desertion. Effort after effort Planet of the Apes (2001), Big Fish (2003), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), Alice in Wonderand (2010), Dark Shadows (2012), Frankenweenie (2012) and Big Eyes (2014) seemed a dud that was only drawing on the Tim Burton look but where the heart seemed to have disappeared and all that was being made was another kooky private party seemingly made for the amusement of Burton and regular collaborators.
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children sees Burton trying to do something different. He is without familiar collaborators like Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter (who you suspect would have nailed Miss Peregrine perfectly but split up from her relationship with Burton in 2014), as well as musician Danny Elfman. In fact, the only former collaborator that Burton is working with again is Eva Green who had previously appeared in Dark Shadows. Furthermore, Burton has eschewed much in the way of his usual offbeat look, even a good deal in the way of visual effects, preferring to instead rely on physical effects. It seems a concerted effort on Burtons part to change direction. Quite whether it means a different outlook, it is too early to say. It at least results in a film that feels less artifice than usual for him everything he has made for the better part of a couple of decades has felt like the real world has been banished to the soundstage door. It is hard to say that a film about child mutants and giant rampaging stilt creatures is realistic but it feels as though the door has been opened back to the real world at least.
The film is based on Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (2011), a Young Adult debut novel by Ransom Riggs, a former writer for Mental Floss. Riggs took his inspiration from a series of Found Photographs depicting various turn of the century circus freaks. The book was a success and Riggs has released two sequels Hollow City (2014) and Library of Souls (2015).
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children emerges as okay fun. I neither hated it like I had recent Burton films like Sweeney Todd, Alice in Wonderland and Dark Shadows. On the other hand, neither did it feel like it was a work that had me bursting out in delight. If anything, the film seems to have been construed as a fantasy take on Professor Xaviers School for Gifted Youngsters. It is often fun watching the kids with their various powers in action, although the complaint might be that the best of these had their main punchline given away by the trailer. The most magical moment is when Ella Purnell takes Asa Butterfield down to the sea floor into a sunken ship and exhales the air in her lungs to create an airtight room around them. The climactic battle between the Peculiars and the Wights is okay fun, even if it doesnt sing with the joy of the superheroic combat that you get in the X-Men or Marvel Cinematic Universe films. That said, Tim Burton has a blast coming up with a battle between Hollows and reanimated skeletons on the Blackpool Pier Burton is a stop-motion animation fan and here he has clearly taken more than a few leaves from Ray Harryhausen and Jason and the Argonauts (1963).
Tim Burtons other films of genre interest include the kitsch Pee-Wees Big Adventure (1985); the bizarre ghost story Beetlejuice (1988); Batman (1989); the genteel artificial boy fairy-tale Edward Scissorhands (1990); Batman Returns (1992); Ed Wood (1994), a biopic of the worlds worst director; the alien invasion comedy Mars Attacks! (1996); the ghost story Sleepy Hollow (1999); the remake of Planet of the Apes (2001); Big Fish (2003) about an habitual teller of tall tales; Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005); the stop-motion animated Gothic Corpse Bride (2005); the horror musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007); Alice in Wonderland (2010); the film remake of the tv series Dark Shadows (2012); and the stop-motion animated Frankenweenie (2012). Burton also produced Henry Selicks darkly brilliant stop-motion animated fantasies The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) and James and the Giant Peach (1996); as well as the live-action conte cruel Cabin Boy (1994), Batman Forever (1995), the animated 9 (2009), Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter (2012) and Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016). The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened? (2015) is a fascinating documentary about Burtons failed Superman Lives project.