It goes without saying that one day, someone will create a film titled "Inside the Mind of Tim Burton" and it will win best special effects awards. For if what he presents on the screen is one tenth of what's going on in his head... boy!!! Let it be said that "Miss Peregrin's Home for Peculiar Children" is a prime example.


The film is based on the rookie novel by Ransom Riggs in 2011, with the screen play adapted by Jane Goldman (who also wrote "Stardust", "Kick Ass", "X-Men: First Class", and "Kingsman: The Secret Service"). Please note that all of Jane's adaptations involve fantastical characters


For this adaptation, Burton seems to given Goldman free-rein while he concentrated presenting visuals that reflected the sum of all his previous films. At any point during the film you will see topiary like in "Edward Scissorhands", bone creatures as in "Corpse Bride", weird entities like we saw in "Beetlejuice", and even echoes of "Sleepy Hollow" and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory".

Indeed,the only thing missing was Johnny Depp, but given Depp's recent failure streak, I can understand why he didn't warrant a role. Instead we get Asa Butterfield ("Ender's Game", "Hugo", and "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas") assuming the role of Jake, the boy charged with locating and protecting the peculiar children.


The film opens with Jake's Grandfather Abe (Terrance Stamp) facing an unseen foe who ultimately takes his eyes. But, before his death, he leaves a few contextual clues for his nephew, Jake. The clues refer to a postcard, an island and a children's home which he frequently described to Abe during babysitting stories year s prior.


Resisting Jakes adventure of discovery is his own father Franklin (Chris O'Dowd) who openly questions his grandfather's sanity. But upon his grandfather's apparent demise, the dad agrees to take Jake on the quest which begins in Wales. It also gives Jake's father a chance to do some bird watching.

It doesn't take Jake long to find the home, the children and Miss Peregrine (Eva Green) who are hiding in a closed time loop which she controls. They are hiding from invisible creatures called the Hollows, that eat eyes.


All of these characters exist in real time back in 1943, in a hidden dimension much like in "Harry Potter" though without the wizardry. Jake's objective is to somehow spin back time to just before his grandpa goes missing.


Like "X-Men: First Class", each of the peculiar children has a unique peculiarity that they must figure out how to use and control. One girl Emma (Ella Purnell) floats and controls air, Horace (Hayden Keeler-Stone) is impeccably dressed all the time, Claire (Raffiella Chapman) has teeth in the back of her neck and others. Jake has his own peculiarity which he must first discover then control.


The bad guy behind the Hollows is Barron (Sam Jackson), a comic book-like thug who has the ability to morph himself into other people. His objective is to capture all the time watchers (like Ms Peregrine) for self gratification and eternal life. Jake's job now becomes threefold: protect the peculiar children, save Ms Peregrine and restore his grandpa... all without actually knowing what he's doing. If it sounds complicated, it is. It probably sounded better in the book than it visualizes on the big screen.


It probably should have been cast differently. The support kids are okay, and so is Eva Green, but Jackson and Judi Dench don't fit. Kodi Smit-McPhee would have been a better fit for the lead.


"Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" is a visual mishmash of characters from Tim Burton's earlier, better films. It's so weighted down it becomes boring.   -- GEOFF BURTON