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EW Critical Mass: Birth of a Nation movie reviews

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Barry Wetcher

After Fox Searchlight acquired the film for a record $17.5 million at Sundance in January, Nate Parker’s much buzzed-about, controversy-laden, festival circuit-traveling slave drama The Birth of a Nation finally hits theaters nationwide this weekend. The question remains: is it a good movie? Critics seem to agree Parker’s Nat Turner biopic is worth your time, while they remain split on Tate Taylor’s Emily Blunt-starring The Girl on the Train, which enters wide release to lukewarm reviews. 

So, between the two, which film should you see this weekend? Check out what the critics are saying about the week’s hottest new releases in EW’s Critical Mass roundup below.

The Birth of a Nation

Opens Oct. 7. 

EW’s Leah Greenblatt says:

As a director Parker is a little too fond of heavy Jesus metaphors, but as an actor he’s immensely compelling, skillfully tracing Turner’s transformation from softhearted minister to holy warrior. Even as Birth stumbles in its more overwrought moments, it’s almost impossible not to be moved by what he’s made: a flawed but powerfully affecting film by a flawed but undeniably gifted filmmaker. B+

Read the full EW review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 82%

Metacritic: 73

The Girl on the Train

Opens Oct. 7. 

EW’s Leah Greenblatt says:

Director Tate Taylor (The Help) doesn’t bring the kind of stylistic dazzle that David Fincher, his fellow helmer in literary It Girl depravity, lavished on Dragon Tattoo and Gone Girl. But he deftly translates the bleak, raw-boned menace and tricky time signatures of Train’s intertwined plotlines, and draws remarkably vivid performances from his cast, particularly his two female leads. Blunt and Bennett aren’t girls at all; they’re women on the edge of their own oblivion, wounded and furious and chillingly real. A–

Read the full EW review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 51%

Metacritic: 49

 

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Now playing.

EW’s Devan Coggan says:

Miss Peregrine has all the visual hallmarks of your classic Burton—a child with teeth on the back of her head, a girl who wears lead shoes to keep from floating away (Ella Purnell, swapping powers with another character from the book). But the film chooses style over substance, emphasizing how cool the children’s powers are without fleshing them out as full characters. To compete with Burton’s best, his heroic weirdos need a little more heart—and the monsters need sharper teeth. B–

Read the full EW review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 64%

Metacritic: 57

Deepwater Horizon

Now playing.

EW’s Leah Greenblatt says:

What works almost disturbingly well is the way Berg calibrates his delivery of the disaster while still holding on to the human scale of it. Alternating between the visceral jolt of experiencing the destruction firsthand and a God’s-eye view of its root cause and effect, he brings a man-made tragedy into fiery focus — and reminds us why it deserves more than corporate fines and a few fading headlinesB+

Read the full EW review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 83%

Metacritic: 68

The Magnificent Seven

Now playing. 

EW’s Leah Greenblatt says:

Having duly assembled his homicide squad, director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, Southpaw) allows for several breezy, too-brief scenes of team-building before steering the story toward its gleefully bloody and bullet-riddled climax. Though there are a few clever turns in all the methodical mayhem, the final hour ultimately feels like a waste of his charismatic actors and the easy chemistry they share. And as heartening as it is to see a wild bunch so genuinely diverse on screen — the days of the otherwise great Eli Wallach playing the 1960 film’s villain in blatant brownface are far behind us, thankfully­ — its color-freed casting turns out to be more a tease than a revelation. While the slick script provides some ace one-liners, most go to Washington and Pratt; why not allow Vasquez more than tossed-off muchacho jokes, or give Red Harvest a tenth as many lines as he has arrowheads? A movie like that could have been magnificent. But this Seven’s just silly, solid entertainment: multiplex fun by numbers. B

Read the full EW review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 63%

Metacritic: 54

Storks

Now playing.

EW’s Devan Coggan says:

There’s a delightfully madcap pace to Storks, and most of the rapid-fire jokes land, whether our heroes are running from a frenzied wolf pack who keep transforming themselves into suspension bridges and submarines, or silently battling a sinister penguin gang to avoid waking a sleeping baby. Less interesting is a subplot about the kid’s intended family, an overworked couple (Jennifer Aniston and Ty Burrell) who largely ignore their existing son. Add in Tulip’s quest to find her own family, and an annoying, bro-ish pigeon antagonist (Stephen Kramer Glickman), and Storks starts to feel a little stuffed. Still, the film’s lesson about finding your family never comes off as saccharine, and although there’s nothing particularly innovative about its message, Storks is a little bundle of joy. B

Read the full EW review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 62%

Metacritic: 55

Sully

Now playing

EW’s Chris Nashawaty says:

Still, the reason why the movie works at all is Hanks. I can’t imagine it airing anywhere but on Lifetime without him. On the page, Sullenberger is a pretty vanilla, one-dimensional character. A cipher with wings pinned to his chest. There’s nothing inherently cinematic about him. But Hanks, of course, brings a career’s worth of excellence, depth, good will, and trust-me assurance to the story that isn’t necessarily in Todd Komarnicki’s script. As in last year’s equally hagiographic Bridge of Spies, he doesn’t give a flashy performance or go big in the way most actors would. He knows there’s power in subtlety, in quiet, in the unspoken gesture — the words that aren’tspoken. He knows that less can often be more. Like Sully, he’s the kind of guy you want behind the controls. B

Read the full EW review here.

Rotten Tomatoes: 82%

Metacritic: 74

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