In Theaters This Weekend: Reviews of 'Birth of a Nation, 'Girl on the Train' and 'Middle School'

Read what THR's film critics are saying about films opening Friday.

Preteens, a 19th-century slave rebellion and a handful of murder suspects are among what's headed to theaters this weekend in Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life, The Birth of a Nation and The Girl on the Train.

Read on to find out what The Hollywood Reporter's critics are saying about the weekend's new offerings, and click here to see how they're expected to perform at the box office.

The Birth of a Nation

Developed for seven years by writer, director and star Nate Parker, The Birth of a Nation brings to the screen what Parker himself has said is a relevant and timely message. The film follows the true story of Nat Turner, a slave who led a rebellion on Aug. 21, 1831, in Southampton County, Va. "In Parker’s script, the story for which he wrote with Jean McGianni Celestin, young Nat Turner (Parker) is largely shielded from the worst depredations by a master roughly his own age, Samuel Turner (Armie Hammer)," writes THR film critic Todd McCarthy. It was after he witnessed the extreme brutality and torture inflicted on his fellow slaves, and was himself whipped for baptizing a white man, that Turner began to think in terms of rebellion. "It’s a film very much in tune with the current state of heightened racial friction," writes McCarthy. "And one that will assuredly generate a great deal of media attention, and probably controversy." Read the full review here.

The Girl on the Train

Directed by Tate Taylor (Pretty Ugly People), The Girl on the Train is adapted from the 2015 best-selling novel by Paula Hawkins. In the film, Emily Blunt stars as main character Rachel Watson. Having just lost her job due to drunkenness, Watson spends her days spying on and harassing her ex-husband Tom (Justin Theroux) and his new wife, Anna (Rebecca Ferguson). Twice a day, Watson takes New York City's Metro North to get a glimpse inside of Tom and Anna's house as she passes by. "Along this river route also lies the house shared by ultra-macho Scott Hipwell (Luke Evans) and his gorgeous young mate Megan (Haley Bennett), who not only bears an acute resemblance to Anna but, at the outset, works as the nanny for Anna's child," writes McCarthy. "Rachel likes to spy on her, too, and one day her prying eyes hit pay dirt when she spots Megan on an upstairs deck kissing a man who is decidedly not her husband." Without giving anything away, the viewer spends most of the rest of the movie with Watson as she tries to remember what happened on a very bad night. Read the full review here.

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life

James Patterson's seven-book series will be brought to the big screen by CBS Films. Director Steve Carr (Paul Blart: Mall Cop) teamed up with Chris Bowman, Hubbel Palmer and Kara Holden to adapt the series into a screenplay, write the script and create the film. The story centers around Rafe Khatchadorian (Griffin Gluck), a typical student at Hills Village Middle School who must confront bullies, ever-fluctuating levels of hormones and a tyrannical principal. Read the full review here.