I have so completely given up on Tim Burton that I didn’t even flirt with the idea of seeing Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (20th Century Fox, 9.30). I figured it would just be another design-driven film aimed at the family trade, which is what many are calling it. With the exception of Mars Attacks!, I was with Burton all the way from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure to Sweeney Todd. For me Ed Wood was the creative peak with Beetlejuice right behind it. But I lost patience when Burton began focusing mostly on CG-driven films that seemed to be more about production design than characters or hip attitudes — Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Alice In Wonderland, Dark Shadows, Frankenweenie. Yes, Big Eyes repped a swing back to adult-level material but it didn’t get me.

Posted on 9.25 by Vanity Fair‘s Richard Lawson: “I don’t want to oversell Miss Peregrine as some sort of ruminative mood piece about the human experience. It’s not. It’s a kid’s film, co-starring Samuel L. Jackson as an eyeball-eating mad scientist. But it’s the rare kid’s film that has a sense of risk and stakes and tension to it, that admirably dares to be violent and unsettling and sad.

“Those qualities have long been Burton’s bailiwick — but here, he finally synthesizes them together in a way that’s coherent and thoughtful. Miss Peregrine is a testament to finding the perfect material to match a director’s tastes, rather than trying for some hideous compromise, like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or Alice in Wonderland. As Tim Burton’s best film in almost a decade, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children has an exciting air of rejuvenation about it. It’s confident and judicious with its peculiarities, while letting its heart and intellect—not Johnny Depp in a bad wig—be its stars.”