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The surprise best-seller by Ransom Riggs, about a boarding school for magically gifted orphans, seems tailor-made for eccentric auteur Tim Burton, whose phantasmagoric visuals almost make up for the story’s heavy debt to Harry Potter and the X-Men. An intricate series of events leads an American boy (Asa Butterfield) to a tiny Welsh island where the Victorian-era home has been frozen in time since World War II. Eventually he learns from the title headmistress (Eva Green) that the “peculiars” are hiding from a malevolent shape-shifter (Samuel L. Jackson) and that only he, the new arrival, can defeat the big bad. Adapted to the screen by Jane Goldman (X-Men: First Class), the movie is engaging at every turn, and there are some winsome performances (from Green especially). Burton has covered similar ground already, but fans will relish this spooky return to form. With Allison Janney, Judi Dench, and Rupert Everett.