Tim Burton’s “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” is infested with his usual gaggle of creepy-crawlies. Adapted by Jane Goldman from Ransom Riggs's young adult bestseller, it’s like Burton’s variation on “X-Men” – a movie about mutant children with “peculiar” powers, including invisibility and weightlessness, and, especially grody, the ability to eat utilizing spiky teeth in the back of one’s head.
The children are under the aegis of Miss Peregrine – played with divaesque triumphalism by Eva Green – who is capable of transforming herself into a falcon. The setting is, for the most part, 1943, where the remote Welsh orphanage housing the “peculiars” has been bombed to rubble by the Nazis.
Miss Peregrine has been able so far to preserve in an endless cycle, “Groundhog Day”-style, the day prior to the fatal bombing by creating “loops” in time. But the marauding Barron (Samuel L. Jackson, relishing his badness to the hilt), who survives by plucking out and consuming the eyeballs of the “peculiars,” is threatening to change all that.
Into this mad mix, traveling back in time from present-day Miami, enters mild-mannered Jacob (Asa Butterfield), whose grandfather (Terence Stamp) warned him of the peculiarities of the peculiars. He eventually discovers his own peculiar gifts and becomes the unlikeliest of heroes.
To me, Burton’s movies always seem a full grade too grotesque for the whimsical stories he is trying to tell, as if he simply couldn’t rein in his darkest impulses. At least in “Miss Peregrine,” his ghastliness fits the fable, although, even at its best, it’s fairly generic Burton. Grade: B- (Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of fantasy action/violence and peril.)