Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children Asa Butterfield, Ella Purnell, Eva Green. Directed by Tim Burton. Rated PG-13. Opens Friday citywide.
As tiresome as Tim Burton’s Burton-ized versions of existing franchises like Alice in Wonderland, Dark Shadows and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory have become, they’re still vastly preferable to the anonymous Hollywood hackery of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, possibly the worst movie in the veteran director’s uneven career. Based on a popular series of young-adult novels by Ransom Riggs, Peculiar Children is a tedious mashup of familiar teen-fantasy tropes, starting with the ordinary kid who learns that he’s part of a secret, magical world. In this case, it’s Jake Portman (Asa Butterfield), a blank slate who doesn’t get any less blank when he learns that he’s a “peculiar,” someone born with special powers.
There’s far too much more to the movie’s tortured yet completely uninteresting mythology, which listlessly builds to a big action climax against a poorly motivated villain (Samuel L. Jackson). Burton displays none of his trademark dark creativity, completely squandering Eva Green as the title character and constantly getting bogged down in exposition. Even the special effects are lackluster. For all of Burton’s faults, his movies are always distinctively his; with its recycled narrative and unremarkable visual style, Peculiar Children feels like it was directed by a marketing spreadsheet.