** out of four
The films of director Tim Burton are always visually interesting, but he sometimes has a problem as a storyteller. That's the major issue with Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children – it's a mess of a story and its pacing is deadening.
Asa Butterfield is teenager Jake and his fantastical journey begins when his supposedly delusional grandfather (Terence Stamp) dies in his arms, but not before mumbling stuff about monsters and Miss Peregrine. Jake crosses time to end up at the Home for Peculiar Children where Miss Peregrine (Eva Green) is the head mistress. The children all have special powers and afflictions. One girl sets everything on fire simply by touching it, another young lady has to wear heavy, lead boots or she will float away, and there's even an invisible boy. Anyway, they need Jake's help because only he can see these horrible monsters who want to eat the children's eyes. Oh, and Miss Peregrine and her kids are stuck in time, having to relive the same day over and over again. This plays like Goth X-Men meets Groundhog Day but except it's not clever or very entertaining.
Samuel L. Jackson's lead villain, Barron, is glimpsed early on but doesn't really make his entrance until the third and final act...and his over-the-top campy performance seems like he should be in an entirely different movie altogether – a better one.
The designs of the eye-eating creatures – bald heads, no eyes and lots of teeth – seem like something I've seen in a dozen or so recent movies. There is also an uninspired CGI sequence where skeletons are brought to life to battle the creatures. Ray Harryhausen did it much better with stop-motion animation in 1963's Jason and the Argonauts.
Miss Peregrine's plot isn't very clear and neither is the villain's agenda. I knew I was it trouble when 20-minutes in there was little story progression. And at two-hours and seven minutes, this drones on and on.