Just to clarify one thing: I don't hate Tim Burton at all. In fact, I kinda love his work. He has a very unique and imaginative vision, seems to have a tasteful choice for actors (besides Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter), and can really pour his heart and soul in some of his films like "Edward Scissorhands", "Corpse Bride", and "The Nightmare Before Christmas". But, just like any director, he has his missteps also. Some of his recent work is very lackluster and, at times, flat-out bad (Planet of the... BLAHK!).
But I was still excited for this particular project of his. I haven't read the book, or knew much about it, but when I saw the trailer I got my hopes up. Maybe this will be his big comeback! Asa Butterfield is an actor I like, the imagery is appropriately dream- like and the source material seems to fit his style perfectly. It even has the screenwriter from X-Men: First Class!
So I went to see the film with a few of my friends in a theater of around 15 people and 25-30 recliner seats. I couldn't wait to see another great Tim Burton movie!
And for the first half of the film... I genuinely enjoyed it! Sure, it does take some time for Jacob to reach Peregrine's home, but once he does... I couldn't help but smile like an idiot. The world that Jacob enters is very fascinating, the visuals are exceptional, and every one of the peculiar kids in the house are very interesting side- characters. I wanted to learn more about the girl that could lift boulders over her head! There is also this kid that can project his dreams into film... how cool! This first act always left me with questions that I was excited to hear about when the plot kicks in.
And then the plot kicks in...
That is where the movie starts to run out of steam.
I could tell that there was a lot of story elements in the book just from watching the movie, because in the 2nd half a lot of it felt crammed in. When I try to follow the story as best as I can, there's always this one element that makes precious little sense. It also doesn't help that the villain is weak and his motivations are somewhat vague.
The climax is pretty abrupt and Burton sadly delves into a few clichés that aggravate me. A lot of it felt by-the-numbers at that time, and I was sorely disappointed.
That's not to say that this was a bad film, because it isn't. The acting (especially from Eva Green) is competent, the whole film is imaginative in both story and visuals, and somewhere buried beneath lies a great film with very intriguing story elements and appealing whimsy. But the plot is messy, the main character is bland, the pacing is at times uneven and, in the end, it's just another average YA adaptation that had loads of potential.
+ Visuals + Well-cast, especially for Eva Green + Imaginative + Sense of wonder in the first act + Solid directing + Interesting side characters