The Girl on the Train is based on Paula Hawkins’ bestselling thriller that shocked the world. Rachel (Emily Blunt), devastated by her recent divorce, spends her daily commute fantasizing about the seemingly perfect couple who live in a house that her train passes every day. Everything changes when she sees something shocking happen there, and becomes entangled in the mystery that unfolds.
I can certainly see the appeal of Paula Hawkins’ first successful novel ‘The Girl on the Train‘, which was released in 2015, and was fast-tracked and optioned into a major motion picture by Universal Pictures. It has some deeply dark and layered characters and tackles a range of emotions and vices from alcoholism, abuse, and even a murder. It’s a good story with a whodunnit angle that feels fresh and original. The problem here is that the film feels a bit rushed and lazy, giving way to the very slow burn the film has and never quite stays on point with its many flashbacks and timing -- oftentimes showing the same scene several times. It just becomes tedious and redundant twenty minutes in and never stops being overly dramatic with longing stares, tears, and silence.
The film doesn't have an easy flow or pace to it, which could be derived from Erin Cressida Wilson’s (Secretary) screenplay, which has a certain motive of to find out who the killer is, but the journey to get there is just dull and boring. Director Tate Taylor (The Help, Get On Up) doesn’t add anything striking to the camerawork, besides making certain scenes hazy and blurry, as to make us feel drunk the whole time, like our protagonist Rachel (Emily Blunt). There really just isn't anything special about the way the film looks, as everything has a very gray or muted color palette, minus a couple of scenes inside Rachel’s roommate’s (Laura Prepon) house.
If you’re unfamiliar with the story here or haven’t read the book, the story centers on Rachel (Blunt), who is recently divorced and has trouble with drinking. She takes the train to New York every morning for work, and on the way, she notices her old house where her ex-husband (Justin Theroux), his new wife (Rebecca Ferguson) and their child lives. Next door to them is her old neighbors, a young couple (Luke Evans and Haley Bennett) who seem very much in love. One day on the train, Rachel sees something out of the ordinary, which sets in motion the whole plot of the film. From here, Rachel tries to figure out and solve a murder to someone she knows.
Again, this sounds good on paper, but was not executed well on film. Allison Janney shows up in a few scenes as a detective and plays the part very well. Also, Lisa Kudrow shows up for a few seconds and is probably my favorite character in the whole movie, but isn’t given any time to do anything at all. Blunt does a decent enough job here, but like every character in the film -- besides the actors who get less than a few minutes of screen time -- play their roles in a very melancholic way. This drives the film into dull territory, which makes for a very slow and dragged out 112 minute experience.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the film was the score, which was done by Danny Elfman, who scores most of Tim Burton’s films as well as some great animated TV Shows (The Simpsons, Futurama). You wouldn’t know it was a Danny Elfman score though, as he brought something new to the soundtrack here that keeps things tense and off-beat.
The Blu-Ray: Vital Disc Stats
'The Girl on the Train' in 4K UHD comes with a 4K Disc and a Standard 50GB Blu-ray disc, plus the digital download insert from Universal Pictures. The discs are housed in a hard, black, plastic case with a cardboard sleeve.
Universal Pictures hops aboard the 4K UHD train with the release of 'The Girl on the Train', which has a HEVC H.265 encode in HDR10 with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. This release has a digital download code as well as the standard Blu-ray version, in addition to the 4K disc. There is no 3D option here. This is an interesting video presentation, because it seems that the standard Blu-ray version looks a bit brighter and dare I say, even better than this 4K UHD. The film of course is dark in tone, but the visual style is quite dark too, which is where this UHD really shines, but perhaps to a flaw.
There doesn't seem to be a big uptick in detail or color, really, but the film looks wholly darker when I compared this UHD to the standard Blu-ray. The overall feel with the film now feels a bit more haunting with this darker look. The final scene takes place on a gorgeous sunny day with blue skies and rich green grass, but on this UHD, the colors don't pop off screen or look as vibrant as they could or should. Detail is more pronounced for sure in well lit close-ups that showcase some practical makeup effects on the actor's faces as well as some individual hairs, but it's not a big upgrade.
The wider shots show a bit more detail, such as the imperfections in the train car and smear marks on the windows, as well as the different variations of leaves in all the trees. The skin tones look very natural, but the black levels tend to be a bit lighter than on the Blu-ray and not as deep and inky as they should be. Still, this video presentation is good, but this is a rare instance where the Blu-ray version looks a bit better. There are no big compression problems here to mention, either.
This UHD release of ‘The Girl on the Train‘ has an English: DTS:X track, where I used a 7.1.2 speaker setup with the normal 7.1 surround and two overhead speakers, plus a subwoofer powering this soundscape. DTS:X and Dolby Atmos are basically the same thing with some small differences. It's basically comparing iPhone and Android, where both do practically the same thing, with some tiny differences.
For the most part, the track has a 7.1 soundscape with some small instances of the overhead speakers pouring out sound. Sound effects of the train in motion with all of the screeches and engines rumbling sound full and robust, and has some good directionality depending on where the camera is. Ambient noises sound great too, whether you're in the wooded area or a big city with tons of people walking around and talking. The score engulfs all of the speakers and adds those crescendos and suspenseful moments to try and keep you on the edge of your seat.
The overhead speakers let some of the ambient noises fall through, but it's very light. Dialogue is very clear and easy to follow at all times, and free of any pops, cracks, hiss, or shrills. The bass of the train engines sound excellent and never crosses into rocky territory either, leaving this audio presentation with great marks.
Audio Commentary - This commentary is available on both the UHD and Blu-ray version and has filmmaker Tate Taylor discussing the basic aspects of the production, He talks about casting, shooting on location, the visual effects, the tone, and more. He tends to be silent on some scenes, but is mostly informative yet monotone.
Deleted and Extended Scenes (HD, 18 Mins.) - There are 14 scenes in total here, some of which are fun to watch, but were best left on the cutting room floor. Interesting to see what was cut here.
The Women Behind the Girl (HD, 5 Mins.) - Here we have author Paula Hawkins talking about the characters, casting, and the difference between the female and male characters of her story.
On Board the Train (HD, 12 Mins.) - This is more of a promo piece or EPK of the film with cast and crew interviews, behind the scenes footage, and clips from the film, as everyone briefly discusses the production of the movie.
'The Girl on the Train' in this 4K UHD version comes with both the 4K UHD, the standard Blu-ray and the Digital Copy. The film itself isn't that good, but has some decent moments throughout. It was just paced poorly in my opinion. The video on this 4K UHD seems to actually have more problems than the standard Blu-ray, which is surprising. There is not a noticeable uptick in the video here and has a darker look to the whole picture. The audio options are the same on both discs and the extras are decent -- though not great. If you love the film, then you'll like this, other than that, feel free to give it a rent. For Fan's only.