Based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children charts the extraordinary journey of young Jake (Asa Butterfield) who, when chasing clues to a mystery that spans alternate realities and times, uncovers a secret refuge for unusual children run by Miss Peregrine (Eva Green).
As Jake learns about the residents and their peculiar abilities, he realises that safety is an illusion and danger lurks in the form of powerful, hidden enemies. Jake must figure out what is real, who can be trusted, and who he really is.
It was a story that fit in perfectly with visionary director Tim Burton, who has gathered together a cast of veterans and young actors to bring Riggs’ book to life on the big screen.
Eva Green, who previously worked with Burton on Dark Shadows, stars as the titular character. Miss Peregrine is the protector of the Peculiars – her own peculiarity is being an ‘ymbrine’ meaning she can manipulate time and take the form of a bird. “She is a kind of dark Mary Poppins-like figure who is rather eccentric and fearless, and who wields a deadly crossbow to protect her Peculiars,” says Green. “Her children are her life, and Miss Peregrine will do anything for them. She’s a ballsy character and a warrior.”
Asa Butterfield, best known for his wonderful turn in Martin Scorsese’s Hugo stars as Jake, the typical American teen with the attending awkwardness, through whose eyes we see the story unfold. Butterfield describes Jake as someone who is “living an ordinary life and thinks he will never make a difference in the world. When his beloved granddad Abe dies mysteriously, Jake travels to Wales to find out if the special Home and its residents, which Abe had told Jake many stories about, really exist.
“He comes from something that’s totally ordinary to joining something insanely different from what he’s used to,” continues Butterfield. “At Miss Peregrine’s Home, Jake must let go of everything he knows – or thinks he knows – and leave normal life behind.”
A cast of veterans and young actors that brings Ransom Riggs’ book to life on the big screen
Portraying Emma, the young girl with the ability to manipulate air, and who must wear a pair of lead shoes to keep herself from floating away, is Ella Purnell. As the adventure unfolds, a little romance blossoms between her and Jake. “Emma and Jake’s relationship becomes a sweet, naïve teenage love, and he’s all nervous because he unsure of himself – and she floats!”
There are many residents at the home for Peculiar children. Enoch’s (Finlay MacMillan) peculiarity allows him to temporarily give life to inanimate objects, a skill he employs during an epic showdown with dark forces. Lauren McCrostie is Olive, a free spirited-character who must wear long black gloves at all times because she ignites everything she touches.
The youngest, smallest but by far the strongest of the Peculiars is Bronwyn (Pixie Davies). Fiona (Georgia Pemberton) has a peculiarity that allows her to manipulate plant growth... in an instant she can turn the smallest seed into the tallest tree. Claire (Raffiella Chapman) is a young Peculiar who by all appearances is normal - except for the set of razor-sharp teeth on the back of her head. Hugh (Milo Parker) is the resident “Lord of the Bees,” and he must wear a beekeeper’s mask to prevent the hive of bees that live within him from wreaking havoc on his friends.
Horace (Hayden Keeler-Stone) has the peculiarity of prophetic dreams, Millard (Cameron King) possesses the peculiar trait of invisibility, which makes him the most elusive – and mischief-prone – of the Peculiars; while The Twins (Thomas and Joseph Odwell) are the most enigmatic of the Peculiars. They wear masks that obscure their faces, and are speechless, and have a hidden peculiarity that only comes to light in the most dangerous situations.
The adult cast also includes Judy Dench as Miss Avocet, who, like Miss Peregrine is also an ymbrine, Samuel L Jackson as Barron, a shapeshifter and a sinister, evolved form of the Peculiars’ monstrous enemies, the Hollows, Terence Stamp as Abe, Jake’s grandfather, Chris O’Dowd and Kim Dickens as Jake’s parents, Rupert Everett as ornithologist John Lemmon and
Allison Janney as Dr Golan.
It is an ensemble of extraordinary characters who come to life in a vividly imaginative story that includes adventure, time-travel and some epic battles, but most importantly, it celebrates the original and peculiar in us all.