Critics Consensus

The Girl on the Train Is a Bumpy Ride

Plus, The Birth of a Nation, Insecure, and Timeless are Certified Fresh.

by | October 6, 2016 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got an alcoholic amateur detective (The Girl on the Train, starring Emily Blunt and Haley Bennett), a violent chapter of American history (The Birth of a Nation, starring Nate Parker and Gabrielle Union), and a whole bunch of noogeys (Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life, starring Griffin Gluck and Lauren Graham). What do the critics have to say?

The Girl on the Train (2016) 44%

There’s nothing like a murder mystery, and we all know how talented Emily Blunt is. The Girl on the Train has both going for it — not to mention the fact that its source material, Paula Hawkins’ bestselling 2015 novel, is already a hit. But it’s a long journey from the bookstore to the cineplex, and what leaps off the page doesn’t always resonate on the big screen — which sadly seems to be the case here. Although critics have heaped praise upon the ever-reliable Blunt for her portrayal of the titular character, many scribes say the rest of the movie disappoints; what’s meant to be a pulse-pounding whodunit never really comes to life, and director Tate Taylor seems unsure of how to dramatize his protagonist’s unreliable narration or gin up effective suspense. The Girl on the Train may do for a rainy-day rental, but whether it’s an engrossing thriller or an Emily Blunt movie you’re in the mood for this weekend, there’s no shortage of superior options.

The Birth of a Nation (2016) 73%

Rarely has the narrative surrounding a film-festival favorite changed as drastically as it has for The Birth of a Nation. A Sundance sensation earlier this year, this searing historical drama — which finds director/star/co-writer Nate Parker dramatizing the events surrounding Nat Turner’s bloody 1831 slave rebellion — has come under intense scrutiny due to troubling revelations regarding Parker’s private life. It’s all bound to make some filmgoers think twice before seeing Birth, but based purely on its critical merits, it’s well worth seeking out. Although reviews caution that Parker’s treatment of the story is admittedly uneven, and he periodically seems at odds with himself as an actor and director, the pure roiling power of the end result makes it undeniably arresting — and arguably one of the more important releases of the year.

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life (2016) 63%

We’re used to seeing YA adaptations that run toward the dark and dystopian (or simply fantastical) end of the spectrum, but plenty of kid-lit hits read more or less like real life — like, for example, James Patterson’s Middle School series. The first installment makes its way to theaters this weekend, bringing to life the adolescent adventures of young Rafe Khatchadorian (Griffin Gluck) as he seeks to undermine his authoritarian principal (Andy Daly). It’s a premise that’s proven worthy in the past, and Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life boasts a pretty deep cast that includes Lauren Graham, Retta, and Rob Riggle. Unfortunately, it wasn’t screened in advance for critics, so you know what that means — it’s time to guess the Tomatometer!

What’s Hot on TV


Insecure: Season 1 (2016) 100%

Insecure uses star Issa Rae‘s breakout web series Awkward Black Girl as the basis for an insightful, raunchy, and hilarious journey through the life of a twentysomething black woman that cuts through stereotypes with sharp wit and an effusive spirit.

Timeless: Season 1 (2016) 83%

Sometimes goofy but consistently entertaining, Timeless is a fun throwback action series with a kooky premise that’s worth a watch.

Divorce: Season 1 (2016) 63%

While the execution borders on superficial, the dark humor and character chemistry in Divorce hit the mark.

Also Opening This Week In Limited Release

  • Under The Shadow (2016) , an acclaimed horror hybrid from debuting writer-director Babak Anvari, is at 100 percent.
  • Being 17 (Quand on a 17 ans) (2016) , about a pair of teens whose fraught relationship is further complicated after they’re forced to live under one roof, is at 100 percent.
  • 13th (2016) , a sobering documentary look at the history of post-Emancipation race relations in America from director Ava DuVernay, is at 97 percent.
  • Voyage of Time: The IMAX Experience (2016) , an ultra-widescreen edition of Terrence Malick‘s noble attempt to encapsulate the history of the universe, is at 93 percent.
  • Blue Jay (2016) , starring Sarah Paulson and Mark Duplass as a long-separated couple who reconnect after a chance encounter, is at 87 percent.
  • The Alchemist Cookbook (2016) , about a withdrawn man’s increasingly troubled and potentially dangerous pursuits, is at 83 percent.
  • Blinky Bill The Movie (2016) , a feature-length adventure for the animated Australian favorite, is at 78 percent.
  • The Greasy Strangler (2016) , about a father-son struggle for the attentions of a woman they meet on a disco walking tour, is at 75 percent.
  • Phantasm (1979) , which cleans up the footage from the venerable horror franchise’s first installment just in time for the arrival of its most recent sequel, is at 70 percent.
  • Phantasm: Ravager (2016) , the fifth and allegedly final chapter in the Phantasm franchise, is at 56 percent.
  • The Great Gilly Hopkins (2016) , starring Kathy Bates, Glenn Close, and Octavia Spencer in an adaptation of the classic children’s novel, is at 56 percent.

Tag Cloud

football crime thriller australia Apple TV+ Lucasfilm Quiz SDCC The Academy Marvel Studios Superheroes Crunchyroll FOX CMT Best and Worst Warner Bros. Shudder Legendary Academy Awards sag awards child's play FX Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Martial Arts Family halloween tv TCA Summer VOD TV aliens Women's History Month news Stephen King Comedy Central Rocketman Fall TV universal monsters werewolf Cartoon Network Amazon Prime Video 007 video Columbia Pictures mockumentary Anna Paquin Mystery foreign italian award winner reboot Crackle Trophy Talk Box Office a nightmare on elm street dramedy 71st Emmy Awards BBC America jurassic park Bravo DC Universe Writers Guild of America diversity prank RT History joker TIFF Television Academy crossover dragons PaleyFest Creative Arts Emmys President E! Star Trek asian-american mutant psychological thriller rt archives TLC TCA Awards scorecard directors name the review witnail Rom-Com See It Skip It X-Men cops independent AMC blockbusters pirates of the caribbean science fiction Marvel Brie Larson dceu romantic comedy docudrama Ellie Kemper Trivia Acorn TV Photos Alien WGN TV renewals 2016 FXX Film Festival miniseries Toys Arrowverse sequel PlayStation YA Song of Ice and Fire 2015 Adult Swim Tarantino fast and furious true crime 72 Emmy Awards Netflix Marathons cancelled ghosts ABC Family technology CBS anthology The Walking Dead chucky book Horror teaser Action Sci-Fi 24 frames Discovery Channel travel New York Comic Con Super Bowl series archives Syfy adaptation ABC canceled TV shows worst movies facebook ID Calendar Fox News Trailer emmy awards best Cosplay MCU The Arrangement james bond Year in Review all-time composers Comics on TV concert comedies kong Marvel Television Pop TV 2021 Walt Disney Pictures zombies Fox Searchlight Chilling Adventures of Sabrina revenge 45 Sundance TV Rock Dark Horse Comics Lionsgate IFC Black Mirror political drama Mary Tyler Moore Reality space Opinion Sony Pictures Musicals Podcast First Reviews Sundance Now die hard LGBTQ Universal CNN Infographic Awards Tour social media Epix Shondaland BET Awards remakes dogs nfl Logo Turner Classic Movies YouTube Red based on movie NBC cars quibi screenings Country superman Star Wars 20th Century Fox criterion disaster Amazon Ghostbusters Television Critics Association Sundance strong female leads BBC Nickelodeon Spectrum Originals Elton John cinemax TCM Video Games anime Mary Poppins Returns Christmas Watching Series trailers sequels VH1 Lifetime Christmas movies mission: impossible critics telelvision Pixar godzilla OneApp adventure Baby Yoda breaking bad ABC Signature boxoffice comics The Walt Disney Company finale Spike slashers spinoff Emmy Nominations harry potter APB hist green book transformers children's TV BAFTA women screen actors guild canceled comic books what to watch spanish Esquire Turner Music Disney Paramount hidden camera hispanic Reality Competition Food Network Teen Nat Geo Hallmark RT21 LGBT ESPN CBS All Access festival Grammys sitcom Polls and Games Black History Month Disney+ Disney Plus Certified Fresh A24 Classic Film Nominations History politics deadpool spy thriller tv talk Travel Channel Starz robots serial killer historical drama BET binge 99% doctor who Premiere Dates Winners National Geographic SXSW HBO Go Musical twilight San Diego Comic-Con parents Freeform period drama streaming biography MSNBC Amazon Studios Cannes TV Land Hear Us Out Extras nbcuniversal Ovation spider-man GIFs Avengers Endgame Chernobyl king kong christmas movies Netflix Christmas movies Biopics Masterpiece Tumblr renewed TV shows blaxploitation Countdown TV One zombie Spring TV A&E docuseries venice Apple TV Plus El Rey Comedy Red Carpet franchise superhero Holiday comic zero dark thirty NYCC richard e. Grant Exclusive Video Interview boxing free movies Funimation HBO Awards movie Broadway batman Showtime romance stand-up comedy theme song popular American Society of Cinematographers The CW indiana jones stop motion festivals south america FX on Hulu cats comiccon cancelled TV shows Captain marvel television Disney streaming service Peacock natural history rotten video on demand 2020 2019 USA Network CW Seed stoner worst 2017 japanese Pet Sematary HBO Max Pirates films Mary poppins BBC One discovery talk show Tubi GoT classics E3 kids TCA Winter 2020 Binge Guide blockbuster Disney Plus indie Thanksgiving IFC Films Paramount Plus Election spain movies thriller cults Western Sneak Peek Film DC Comics crime TruTV Winter TV nature golden globe awards Heroines Oscars justice league Emmys ViacomCBS jamie lee curtis YouTube monster movies Mindy Kaling halloween satire TNT Holidays Britbox spanish language cancelled television 4/20 obituary Kids & Family Set visit elevated horror First Look ITV vampires police drama black Tomatazos GLAAD french scary movies cartoon PBS golden globes Hulu dark supernatural game of thrones hollywood latino rotten movies we love dc Pop 21st Century Fox Superheroe rom-coms ratings sports 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards DirecTV Mudbound reviews kaiju fresh game show TCA 2017 unscripted toy story The Witch psycho razzies war medical drama animated Pride Month Comic Book Fantasy cancelled TV series Valentine's Day documentaries documentary MTV DGA casting Vudu Amazon Prime 2018 Character Guide versus Drama singing competition OWN Hallmark Christmas movies Disney Channel Schedule cooking DC streaming service SundanceTV USA toronto The Purge Rocky Apple WarnerMedia Lifetime TBS VICE Paramount Network YouTube Premium Animation laika crime drama