It’s wonderful to see Tim Burton shed some of his recent tendency toward visual overkill; it’s just a shame to see it wasted on something that feels so familiar. This adaptation of Ransom Riggs’ novel follows a teenager named Jacob (Asa Butterfield) as he discovers his grandfather’s family history with a strange orphanage in Wales—headed by the mysterious Miss Peregrine (Eva Green)—that houses children with unique abilities, living in a time loop in one day in 1943. On its most basic level, the story provides some satisfying adventure seasoned with a dollop of teen romance, all given the macabre flavor of vintage Burton. But screenwriter Jane Goldman also contributed to the X-Men movie series, and it’s easy to see the overlap: Miss Peregrine’s Home feels like nothing so much as a European branch office of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. Every story beat feels lifted from some other young-hero narrative or comic-book movie, with Green and a white-eyed Samuel L. Jackson (as the Big Bad) providing the only personality to a largely bland cast of characters. A real Burton-saince will require some better material.
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