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‘The Girl on the Train’ a boring rehash of other’s ideas

You may initially be confused by the title of “The Girl on the Train” in thinking that it is “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” or perhaps “Gone Girl.” That is intentional as “The Girl on the Train” is really just an imitation of both of those projects.

Rachel (Emily Blunt) takes the train to work in New York everyday. It passes by her old house where her ex-husband, Tom (Justin Theroux), lives with his new wife, Anna (Rebecca Ferguson), and their new baby. Next to them live Megan (Haley Bennett) and her husband, Scott (Luke Evans). She sees something shocking one day and the next morning she wakes up with bruises and no memory of her previous night. And no one can find Megan.

The story is told in confusing fashion, leading the viewer not to trust Rachel. Without a firm character to latch onto emotionally, the plot is rather aimless, the audience not really caring personally about the mystery. And as the mystery is revealed, it generates a meh response for being pretty obvious and unoriginal.

The thing that keeps the film somewhat strong is Emily Blunt’s performance. She’s great in the lead role, showcasing insanity, uncertainty and shame. It’s a shame it’s pretty much wasted in this film.

The film and book it is based off really just feel as if they are trying to capitalize on the woman-mystery craze typified with “Gone Girl” and “The Girl With…” series. Crafting new stories into the genre is not in itself a poor choice, but you have to have a strong narrative to tell and “The Girl on the Train” simply doesn’t. It’s a half-baked concept with semi-decent execution.

Live-action ‘Beauty and the Beast’ a cashgrab snore

Disney continues its run of uninspired, derivative live-action adaptations with “Beauty and the Beast.” Directed by Bill Condon, the film follows Belle (Emma Watson) as she meets the Beast (Dan Stevens) who… well, you know the plot.

The film feels more like an excuse to photograph lavish set design as its story is exactly the same as the animated film. Right down to the jokes pretty much, there is nothing new in this film, and the end result is that the movie is boring. You know what’s going to happen exactly as it happens. So while it’s pretty to look at, that’s no excuse for good story.

The cast is fine for the most part. Luke Evans is adequate as Gaston in a role that is far too villainous for its own good. Emma Watson does an okay job with Belle, but Dan Stevens as the Beast, in all his CGI monstrosity, is distracting. All the digital effects substitute realism for design and the result is a disconnect with whatever story we have. Special effects are supposed to blend in with the story, not be a central focal point.

In conclusion, the film is less a film than a mass marketing enterprise. It sells nostalgia instead of ingenuity. It sells it well though. The film has grossed half a billion dollars in the United States. Instead of nothing ventured, nothing gained, Disney has finally achieved nothing ventured, millions gained.