Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
Film Title: A Dog's Purpose
Credit: Joe Lederer

A Dog's Purpose is getting some ruff reviews.

The film, from director Lasse Hallström, suffered the brunt of negative backlash on social media after a video — showing a trainer seemingly forcing a German shepherd into turbulent water to film a scene — surfaced online. The majority of movie critics haven't been kind to the movie, either, criticizing the film's overbearing emotional sentiment.

Elsewhere, critics have responded well to Asghar Farhadi's The Salesman, nominated Tuesday for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, though fellow new release, Matthew McConaughey's Gold, apparently lacks the proper shine to warrant its title.

With so many new and holdover titles packing theaters around the country, EW wants you to make good choices at the movies, so consult our Critical Mass reviews guide below before heading to the multiplex this weekend.

A Dog’s Purpose

Opens Jan. 27 in theaters nationwide.

EW's Leah Greenblatt says:

Director Lasse Hallström, a veteran of sprawling casts and story lines (Chocolat, The Cider House Rules), shoots in sumptuously rich Technicolor, even if narratively it often feels more like he's working with finger paints. Each segment, duly framed by textbook fashion and music cues (head­scarves and Simon & Garfunkel for the '60s, Jheri curls and a-ha in the '80s), unfolds with the soothing blandness of a bedtime story. And Purpose itself plays like a family film from another era, its gentle sensibilities a million miles removed from the winky pop culture references and meta layers of most modern all-ages entertainment. The effect is sweet, benignly retro, and just a little bit boring; a comforting Milk Bone for the soul. B

Rotten Tomatoes: 32%

Metacritic: 43

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

Opens Jan. 27 in theaters nationwide.

EW's Clark Collis says:

"The truth is that Resident Evil overlord Paul W.S. Anderson tends to treat each Resident Evil adventure as if it was the last anyway, a spray-everything-at-the-wall approach which helps gift the series its off-the-rails charm. No patient world-builder, Anderson is a man given to killing off promising characters in one film only to revive them in unlikely fashion further down the line and setting up future plots at the end of movie only to ignore that track-laying in the subsequent chapter. For example, at the end of the franchise's previous entry, 2012's Resident Evil: Retribution, Milla Jovovich's heroine Alice combined with the evil Umbrella Corporation to defend the White House from a horde of the undead. However, those who have waited five years to see the ensuing inside-the-Beltway bloodbath will be disappointed.B-

Rotten Tomatoes: 41%

Metacritic: 53


Opens Jan. 27 in theaters nationwide.

EW's Darren Franich says:

The story, loosely true, tendrils through big ideas about capitalist madness run amok. But Gold wastes 
McConaughey's mania with unconvincing sentimentality. How sentimental? Late in the film Kenny receives a (fictional) prospecting award and gives a (long) speech about prospectors and dreamers. The music swells; your eyes roll. Gold could've been great, but it's just all right (all right). B–

Rotten Tomatoes: 34%

Metacritic: 50

The Salesman

Opens Jan. 27 in limited release.

EW's Joe McGovern says:

­Farhadi, who directs all his films in a lucid, easy-to-follow style, carefully laces trip wires of revelation throughout the story. The former tenant, who is spoken about so much that you can practically picture her, never appears on screen. Nor does the assault against Rana. Farhadi's female characters not only have agency but they question the patriarchy at every turn, encouraging us to check our assumptions. As the story hurtles along, we meet an old man with a weak heart (Farid Sajjadi Hosseini) and realize that the invocation of Death of a Salesman was no accident on Farhadi's part. By the film's shattering end, you'll feel the spirit of Arthur Miller, one of the great dramatists of the 20th century, reaching across the transom to touch one of the great dramatists of the 21st. A

Rotten Tomatoes: 98%

Metacritic: 84


EW's Leah Greenblatt says:

Split's giddy nonsense ultimately dissolves in a scrum
of half-realized ideas, but maybe that's ­exactly Shyamalan's goal: tipping his final scene with a perfect tease, to be continued. B

Rotten Tomatoes: 75%

Metacritic: 62

xXx: Return of Xander Cage

EW's Joey Nolfi says:

"Though Vin Diesel has occasionally shown us different sides of that glistening, bald head during his two-decade career on the big screen, notably Saving Private Ryan and Sidney Lumet's 2006 courtroom drama Find Me Guilty, the 49-year-old action figure is most at home flexing his muscles in movies like xXx: Return of Xander Cage, a rollicking shot of adrenaline that's every bit as ludicrous as the word soup posing as its title."

Rotten Tomatoes: 44%

Metacritic: 41

Hidden Figures

EW's Leah Greenblatt says:

Charged with streamlining Figures' knotty real-life histories, director Theodore Melfi (St. Vincent) tends to paint too much in the broad, amiable strokes of a triumph-of-the-week TV movie. But even his earthbound execution can't dim the sheer magnetic pull of an extraordinary story. B+

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%

Metacritic: 74


EW's Devan Coggan says:

It's hard not to compare Sing to another 2016 animated flick about animals learning life lessons in a multispecies metropolis, and the creatures of Sing never seem as introspective or innovative as their Disney cousins in Zootopia. But although the let's-put-on-a-show story line feels familiar, there's real heart to the critters' desperate pursuit of their dreams. The eye-popping performances are meticulously animated, and a crowd-pleasing soundtrack helps keep this show on the road. Sing may be a melody we've heard before, but it still sounds sweet. B+

Rotten Tomatoes: 71%

Metacritic: 60

La La Land

EW's Chris Nashawaty says:

There have been a handful of lavish, big-studio musicals in recent years. But for the most part, they've been bloated Broadway adaptations full of sound and fury. And some moviegoers may, no doubt, feel a little tentative about the genre. But La La Land is the anti-whatever those are. It's more intimate and personal and affecting…more magical. My advice is to see La La Land and surrender to it. It will make you feel like you're walking on air too. A

Rotten Tomatoes: 93%

Metacritic: 93

  • Movie
  • 121 minutes

Comments have been disabled on this post