MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN — Review by Susan Granger

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Adapting Ransom Riggs’ 2011 young-adult novel would seem like a perfect fit for the macabre imagination of eccentric filmmaker Tim Burton. Too bad he squanders this spine-tingling opportunity. When shy, teenage Jake Portman (bland Asa Butterfield) is summoned to his beloved grandfather’s tract home in suburban Florida, he realizes that the old man is dying, the victim of nefarious thugs. Read on…

But not really. As Grandfather Abraham (Terence Stamp) explains, it’s all connected to the bedtime stories Jake’s heard over the years about leaving Poland just before W.W. II, accompanied by creepy vintage photographs of a bizarre orphanage on a small British island, off the coast of Wales.

With the help of a grief counselor (Allison Janney), Jack convinces his parents (Chris O’Dowd, Kim Dickens) to let him visit his Grandfather’s mysterious island refuge – in hopes of achieving closure.

After extensive exposition, the fun begins when Jack time-travels back to Sept. 3, 1943, to find vampy, pipe-smoking Miss Peregrine (Eva Green), tenaciously guarding her fascinating flock of mutants.

There’s weightless Emma (Ella Purnell), who has to wear lead shoes to anchor her to the ground; Olive (Lauren McCrostle), who dons long gloves because her fingers ignite fires; Enoch (Finlay MacMillan), who re-animates objects so they can fight each other; tiny, mute twins in clown costumes; plus other oddities.

They’re living in a continual 24-hour Loop, just prior to a Nazi bombardment. And ghoulish, invisible monsters called “Hollowghasts,” personified by Barron (Samuel L. Jackson), are determined to acquire that Loop when they’re not gobbling eyeballs.

While initially intriguing, Jane Goldman’s script falters, particularly in the climactic chase sequence, as Burton liberally lifts eerie, Gothic-tinged concepts from “Big Fish,” “Back to the Future,” “X-Men,” “Groundhog Day” and “Harry Potter,” leaving teaser traces for a sequel.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” is a strangely spooky, stylish 6, stumbling when it should soar.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.