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Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children (2016)

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Here We Go Again…

You know that you are treading on discomfiting ground when the best thing in a movie is Samuel L. Jackson. This is not a movie, dear reader, this is a thesaurus of movies Tim Burton has done before and movies he would have liked to do, so for your comfort one relegated clichés and quotes in separate check-lists at the end of the review, which leaves us with not much to review indeed. But nevertheless:

When his beloved kooky grandfather dies in traumatic circumstances, Benedict Cumberbatch’s illegitimate son is traumatised at the point that he sees monsters. We certainly see one: who said that we needed a new Elijah Wood already?

He sees monsters at the point he’s sent to therapy. Samuel L. Jackson plays Allison Jeanney, not playing a shrink but THE shrink, and it’s quite a stretch considering how such a great actress can look and sound so utterly bored. The explanation comes later as it is revealed whe’s herself played by Rupert Everett.

By the magic of true cinema, he’s teleported to a Welsh isle where everyone speaks English with a cockney accent. A lot is made of the word “bollocks”.

By the magic of the word “bollocks” he finds what he was supposed to find, namely Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, even though it only exist in a 24 hour time loop in 1943. Displaying an indeed fantastical amount of denial, everything looks rosy and easy-peasy in what’s Hell on Earth under the iron rule of a dubiously clothed tyrant obsessed by time. Miss Peregrine, see, is a monster not much better than the ones she fights, but as she’s played by Eva Green she’s also sweet and full of repressed love.

Said children have a variety of super powers, ranging from growing giant carrots to eating cutlets with the back of their head; among them Christina Ricci 2.0 plays the love interest who can turn into a human Karcher. The film has is fearless about a teenager boy hitting on his grandfather’s girlfriend. Together they have to fight the villain of the piece, the aforementionned Samuel L. Jackson. Evidently they prevail.

What’s to be said of such an omnibus format? On the bright side, there is no Johnny Depp in sight. Regarding the fantasy sequences, if some directors would have done some of them right,Tim Burton do them all right. Problem is, he already did them right, and some of them he even invented on previous, better movies. The idea of being caught in a time loop of Tim Burton’s quirky world is a nightmare that even Helena Bonham Carter had to wake up from. But then again, it is clearly established that “only a peculiar can enter a time loop”, a rule both revelatory and unapologetic for its own hubris. It has been a while that only Mr Burton think of himself as peculiar.

Clichés check-list
Cheap existential voice-over: this time it starts with “Have you feel like nothing matters?”, never a good sign.
An important key missing; how’s that for symbolism?
The Lady In White urban legend (here played by Samuel L. Jackson)
“I see dead people”, here rephrased as “I see monsters”: hey, we see them too!
Gun: every good American has one.
Kooky old man: a character who’s gonna die but who rather speaks in riddles than in clear language (not that it matters anyway).
An Academy Award winner dying in the first five minutes: flashbacks guaranteed.
And as a flashback, some persecuted Polish lineage as bedtime soty, including lullaby.
Hero made a laughing stock at school when he’s giving the best presentation they can hope to see in such a moronic environment.
Fun made of Suburbia, here called “The Waves”.
Ineffectual father, here a lost generation between Grandpa and himself.
Insular humour.
Styx crossing, here as “Take my son to the other side”.
House haunted by children ghosts: what is it about if not that?
Playing on Dad’s gullibility.
Journey back in time.
Telekinesis.
Typical English welcome, as in “Your tea is getting cold”.
Recluse in the attic.
Time clock governing time.
Suspended raindrops.
Rupert Everett playing a dandy.
Sneaking out by the window.
Cursed legacy.
Zombi home invasion.
Kiss of life.
Death of the villain, as in “poetic justice”.
Coward safety vs. bravoury.
Skull design on whatever.

Quotes check-list
Self-quote n°1: Edward Scissorhands, as in “fun made of Suburbia”.
Sixth Sense, as in “I see dead monsters”.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (Wait, why?)
Sherlock Holmes, as in “Miss Peregrine was very clever and she smoked a pipe”.
Stephen King’s The Shining, as in “animal topiary”.
Penny Dreadful, as in “cursed Eva Green in period costume”.
Groundhog Day as in “24h time loop”.
Self-quote n°2: Alice in Wonderland, as in “flower garden”.
Self-quote n°3: Sleepy Hollow, as in “girl in the air in a flower garden”.
Self-quote n°4: Alice in Wonderland, as in “pocket watch”.
Self-quote n°5: The Nightmare Before Christmas, as in “malevolent puppets”.
X Files, Mad Men, American Horror Story and Penny Dreadful all as in “the duel scene”.
The Last Airbender, as in “elemental powers”.
Pan’s Labyrinth, as in “eye-eating monster”.
The 2016 American Presidential campaign, as in “a young Donal Trump projecting his fantasies”.
The Bride of Frankenstein, as in “Judy Dench’s hair”.
Rising the Titanic, as the same.
Ghostbusters, as in “candy ghosts”.
Jason and the Argonauts, as in “skeleton battle”.
The Avengers, as in “Do I not look furious?” said by the actor playing Nick Fury.
The Shining, as in “one liner following a door being brought down with an ax”.
Titanic, as in “kissing at the boat’s front”.

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