Brand New Netflix Movie Shoots Straight to No. 1

The new Netflix original film The Pale Blue Eye premiered this weekend and climbed immediately to the number-one spot on the streamer's charts. The Pale Blue Eye was written and directed by Scott Cooper and stars Christian Bale and Gillian Anderson, among others. While it is getting a lot of views this week, it's hard to predict how the reviews will look when the dust has settled.

The Pale Blue Eye is based on a novel by the same name by Lous Bayard, published in 2003. The story itself is set in upstate New York in the year 1830, and it centers around a murder mystery at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Bale plays a veteran detective named Augustus Landor while Harry Melling plays a young Edgar Allen Poe, who ends up helping Landor investigate these murders. Anderson plays the wife of the military academy's doctor, while other stars include Simon McBurney, Timothy Spall, Toby Jones, Harry Lawtey, Fred Hechinger, Joey Brooks, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Locy Boynton and Robert Duvall.

The story is an intricate mystery and also a gruesome thriller, easily earning its R rating. Bayard's novel was reasonably well-received by critics and even earned a nomination for the Ellis Peters Historical Crime Award by the Crime Writers' Association in 2006. However, the movie adaptation has an average rating of 6.2 out of 10 on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of this writing, and many critics seem unimpressed with the writing itself.

Movie reviewers poked holes in the story and pacing of The Pale Blue Eye, but not all of them acknowledged that it was an adaptation. Some that did contended that the screenplay was not as powerful as Bayard's original novel. The critical consensus reads: "The Pale Blue Eye lacks its source material's piercing gaze, but this well-cast mystery is just intriguing enough to investigate." Overall, 66 percent of the reviews accounted for by Rotten Tomatoes are positive.

Those reviews have been trickling in since before the movie was available to the general public, and Netflix's limited theatrical release model means that there will be plenty of reviews to check out before viewers watch the movie at home. The Pale Blue Eye was released in select theaters on Dec. 23, 2022 – presumably, so that it could be eligible for awards later this year. It premiered on Netflix on Friday, Jan. 6, but it is still showing in some theaters as well.