For Reel


Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016)
October 8, 2016, 12:42 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Tim Burton
2 Stars
miss-peregrines-home-for-peculiar-childrenWhat makes Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children stand out among other YA properties is its setting—an infinitely looping day in 1943 wherein an orphanage will be bombed by the Nazis. And yet, to the residents of the eponymous home, this moment in time is their refuge from the horrors that endlessly stalk them. Miss Peregrine’s (Eva Green) welcoming (albeit haunted) demeanor is at odds with the ever-looming threat, her children stiff-upper-lipping their way through imminent destruction. Tim Burton’s adaptation of the material maintains some of this intriguing sense of deathliness (particularly with the appearance of a boy who can make everything, including dead bodies, take life), but Asa Butterfield’s Jake might as well be a walking corpse, visibly attempting to overcome an American accent and losing any sense of his character’s interiority. Worse yet, a finale that literally becomes a funhouse destroys the sense of stakes from the material—if Samuel L. Jackson is an inspired choice to play the film’s Mr. Baron, Burton allows him to indulge his comedic chops as he delivers stale threats to children who outsmart him at every turn. The climactic battle devolves into a ridiculous show-and-tell in which mildly concerned children show off their superpowers at the expense of idiotic, bumbling villains.



Big Eyes (2014)
January 15, 2015, 5:32 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Tim Burton
2.5 Stars
Big EyesWalter Keane (Christoph Waltz) rose to stardom in the late 1950s/early 60s with an unrelenting series of kitsch portraits that featured wide eyed, often impoverished children. Tim Burton’s Big Eyes tells the story about how his wife, Margaret (Amy Adams), was the true artist of the family, with Walter taking authorial credit to satisfy his egomaniacal drive and make best use of his talents as a con artist. The movie doesn’t make much of Margaret’s apparent passivity, nor is Adams well cast as a woman who participates in her own life from the sidelines. Perhaps the key to solving Margaret in a dramatically fulfilling way would have been to better demonstrate her relationship with her art. The great mystery of the character is her obsessive production of those doe-eyed waifs, but Burton and screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski don’t enlighten the audience about what her artistic drive might be (an especially big problem considering much of the narrative stakes involve whether or not Margaret will have the courage to reclaim her own work). More than the script, though, Adams is swallowed whole by a miscalculated performance by Waltz, who plays the eccentric con artist as a one note clown.