By Robin E. Simmons



From director Tim Burton singular vision and based on Ransom Rigg’s 2011 best selling YA novel, comes this visually rich, almost hallucinogenic adventure.  Jake is a teen misunderstood by his parents but close to his grandfather Abraham (Terence Stamp) who lives with them in Florida.  Jake never tires of hearing Abraham’s stories about how, after escaping Poland just prior to World War II, he lived for a time at a school for “special” children before he enlisted in the British army.  Abraham shares with Jake old photos of odd-looking children and supernatural-like events at the school.

When Jake asks for more details, Abraham refuses to say more always referring to the “monsters” he fought in the war.  Everyone assumes he’s referring to the holocaust.  But Jake is certain there’s more to it than that.

When Abraham dies, Jake’s father – hoping to resolve lingering questions — takes his son to Wales, where the school is located.

peregrins-gallery1When father and son inspect the ruins of the school, which was hit by German bombs on September 3, 1943, they discover a portal to that fateful day nearly 70 years ago.  They meet the pupils who are definitely weird with odd and perhaps unwanted abilities.  Head of the school is black-clad pipe-smoking Miss Peregrine (Eva Green) who welcomes them and explains the recessive gene that dominates the school’s populace.  Everything hinges on Miss Peregrine’s ability to stop time itself.  Every day at the school, it’s September 3, 1943 and she must stop her watch seconds before the Nazi bomb’s hit!

Danger is everywhere and as Jake gets to know the residents and learn about their special powers – and their terrifying enemies, Jake discovers that only his own special peculiarity can save his new friends.

This material is a great fir director Burton.  In fact, it’s a mish-mash of everything we have come to expect from his most peculiar vision.

I was surprised by this unexpected movie and how much I liked it.  There are welcome emotional threads and more than a hint of a love story.  I am not sure what the over riding theme might be, but I loved visiting this astonishingly magical world where time itself fluctuates like the weather.  Next to Sweeny Todd, I think this may be among Burton’s very best films.  It’s a joy to experience his unfiltered gothic imagination on the big screen.  Recommended.




Mark Strong (Kingsman: Secret Service) faces the cold vastness of space in this thrilling sci-fi drama.

Written and directed by Mark Elijah Rosenberg, winner of the Sundance Institute/NHK Award (2014).  The movie follows Captain William D. Stanaforth (Strong) as he embarks on an extraordinary one-way solo mission, taking humanity’s first steps toward colonizing Mars.  Although the entire world is watching him, he is completely alone in a dark and distant sea of stars.  Stanaforth rockets bravely through space facing seemingly insurmountable odds, but as the journey takes a toll on his life-sustaining systems, he is forced to make impossible choices that not only threaten his sanity but also his mission and very existence.  Paramount.  DVD.


The Last kingTHE LAST KING

Take an arduous and epic journey through the snow-covered Norwegian mountains with Academy Award ® nominated director Nils Gaup’s fantastic action adventure starring Jakob Oftebro (The Snowman) and Kristofer Hivju (“Game of Thrones”).  The Last King is not only an action-filled drama but also a great story of love, sacrifice, honor and revenge.

Based on true events, a battle for the throne between Norwegian King Håkon and the Church’s Bishopmen has left the country in the middle of a decades long civil war.  Following an assassination attempt by those closest to him, the King reveals on his deathbed that he has a newborn son born in secret.  To shield their newborn King from those seeking to end the royal family’s bloodline, two fighters Torstein and Skjervald make the treacherous journey across the snow-covered terrain to return him safely to the kingdom.

Special features include an interview with actor Kirstofer Hivju and a music video with scenes from the epic action movie Bifrost.  Magnolia.  Blu-ray.