'Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children' is fairly generic Tim Burton

( PG-13 ) ( Monitor Movie Guide )

'Peregrine' stars Eva Green as the head of a home for unusual children, a place that is being threatened by the evil Barron (Samuel L. Jackson).

Leah Gallo/20th Century Fox/AP
'Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children' stars Eva Green.

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.)

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.