Critics Consensus

Terminator: Dark Fate Is a Solid Reset

Plus, Harriet is largely satisfying, Motherless Brooklyn is a little derivative, and Netflix's Certified Fresh The Irishman opens in a few theaters ahead of its streaming release.

by | November 1, 2019 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got a robopocalypse (Terminator: Dark Fate, starring Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger), a great escape (Harriet, starring Cynthia Erivo and Leslie Odom Jr.), a noir mystery (Motherless Brooklyn, starring Edward Norton and Gugu Mbatha-Raw), and courier canines (Arctic Dogs, featuring the voices of Jeremy Renner and John Cleese). What are the critics saying?

Terminator: Dark Fate (2019) 70%

Just about a year ago, David Gordon Green’s Halloween essentially disregarded the prior couple of decades’ worth of sequels to serve as a direct follow-up to John Carpenter’s original 1978 chiller, and it was rather surprisingly well-received. This weekend, Terminator: Dark Fate aims to do something similar by negating the last couple films in the franchise and operating as a direct sequel to 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day. That can’t work every time, right? Maybe not, but critics say the new film is at least as good as — if not better than — the past few installments in the franchise. We want to avoid plot spoilers here, so we’ll just say that Linda Hamilton returns to play Sarah Connor in a major role, as she helps protect a young woman from Mexico City whose future may be key to the human rebellion against the evil A.I. that wants to destroy them. Reviews so far have been relieved to find that the movie does its best to play to the franchise’s strengths — a formidable villain, an equally formidable heroine, some thrilling action sequences, and the charisma of its veteran stars — even if it doesn’t quite hit all the right notes. It might not be as thrilling as the first two movies, but there’s plenty of fan service for those who loved them, and the new additions to the cast feel like they belong, so it all boils down to a decent — if not groundbreaking — entry in the series.

Harriet (2019) 73%

As director Kasi Lemmons describes it, the script for Harriet that she inherited from writer Gregory Allen Howard was more of an action-adventure that just happened to have Harriet Tubman as its heroine, so she set about bringing more nuance and historical accuracy to the film. We may never know how Howard’s original script might have fared with critics and audiences, but the final product appears to be a largely satisfying tribute to one of the most celebrated heroes in American history. Cynthia Erivo stars as Tubman, who escapes slavery but returns to the South to free her family and goes on to save hundreds of slaves via the Underground Railroad, and critics say Erivo’s vibrant performance helps elevate the film. Harriet isn’t meant to be a history lesson, and it may feel a little shallow as a biography, but it’s earnest in its intentions and entertaining enough in its delivery that it’s probably worth a watch for anyone interested in seeing the icon brought to life on screen.

Motherless Brooklyn (2019) 64%

Edward Norton hasn’t directed a film since his feature debut, Keeping the Faith, all the way back in 2000. Incidentally, that was also around the time he read a novel called Motherless Brooklyn, became enamored with it, and immediately began planning to adapt it for the big screen. It took almost 20 years, but Norton’s Motherless Brooklyn is finally hitting theaters, albeit with a few changes. While the novel was set in contemporary times, Norton was drawn to its noir elements and set it in the 1950s, following a private detective with Tourette Syndrome obsessed with uncovering the truth behind the murder of his closest friend and mentor (Bruce Willis). Critics say the film is powered by strong performances — no surprise, considering the cast includes Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Bobby CannavaleAlec Baldwin, and Willem Dafoe — but Norton struggles with making the material feel rich and layered. The end result is a somewhat boilerplate mystery that feels like a less sophisticated take on the classic noirs that inspired it, even if the actors dig into their roles with gusto.

Arctic Dogs (2019) 12%

It’s usually not a good sign when a movie isn’t screened for critics, but even when that happens, there are usually a few writers who will go out of their way to see the film on opening day and submit a review for it. Arctic Dogs failed to meet even that threshold, as it still sits with zero reviews to its name. Jeremy Renner lends his voice to this animated adventure as Swifty, an arctic fox who just wants to become one of the lauded husky couriers he looks up to. When he takes his destiny into his own hands and delivers a package to a mysterious customer, he discovers an evil walrus with a plot for world domination and bands together with his friends to save the day. It all sounds like pretty standard stuff, and as much as we’d like to say all signs point to a critical disappointment, the truth is we don’t really know, because nobody has seen the movie yet. You know what that means: guess the Tomatometer!

Also Opening This Week In Limited Release

  • The Irishman (2019) , starring Robert De Niro and Al Pacino in Martin Scorsese‘s historical drama about the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, is Certified Fresh at 97%.
  • Light From Light (2019) , a drama about a woman hired to investigate the possibility that a grieving man’s wife may still haunt their home, is at 93%.
  • Queen of Hearts (2019) , a drama about a married woman dealing with the fallout of engaging in a sexual relationship with her stepson, is at 92%.
  • Bloody Marie (2019) , a drama about a graphic novelist who attempts to turn her destructive life around, is at 86%.
  • Adopt a Highway (2019) , starring Ethan Hawke as a newly released ex-con who rescues an abandoned baby from a dumpster, is at 75%.
  • The Etruscan Smile (2018) , starring Brian Cox as a Scottish man who moves in with his son in San Francisco to undergo medical treatment, is at 67%.
  • Cubby (2019) , a comedy about an aimless 26-year-old who becomes a male nanny and bonds with a lonely 6-year-old boy, is at 67%.
  • American Dharma (2018)Errol Morris‘ documentary interview with former Trump advisor Steve Bannon, is at 58%.
  • Mrs. Lowry & Son (2019) , about the relationship between English artist L.S. Lowry and his overbearing mother, is at 50%.
  • Earthquake Bird (2019) , starring Alicia Vikander and Riley Keough in a mystery about a young woman who goes missing in late-1980s Tokyo, is at 50%.

Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.

Tag Cloud

Elton John japan Film Festival venice TCA Sundance Now cults critics comic book movie Crackle saw FXX GLAAD Biopics free movies Music Acorn TV quibi franchise Spring TV Tomatazos BET aliens 1990s Superheroes Winter TV Certified Fresh Black Mirror Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Amazon Prime television DC streaming service debate GIFs hispanic heritage month Apple TV Plus Masterpiece BBC America TCA 2017 cats chucky spanish language space Ellie Kemper transformers Country GoT scary movies live action miniseries OneApp adenture Discovery Channel finale Logo movie police drama teaser psychological thriller 2020 animated Avengers El Rey zero dark thirty elevated horror HBO Go RT History theme song sitcom gangster kids Lifetime Christmas movies nature Travel Channel Fall TV kong Mudbound heist movie DirecTV reboot TCA Awards Star Wars unscripted Sneak Peek crime drama TV renewals satire cinemax renewed TV shows Trophy Talk indie Arrowverse dragons TCM Summer comic Comic-Con@Home 2021 talk show Musical rt labs Shudder Freeform IFC Martial Arts kaiju BBC hist golden globe awards true crime NYCC ViacomCBS docudrama Valentine's Day stoner Fox News Tumblr Interview TV Land 007 fresh news dogs independent japanese concert Comics on TV anthology dexter San Diego Comic-Con A24 fast and furious AMC rt labs critics edition target ABC Family New York Comic Con boxoffice Television Critics Association new zealand PaleyFest Peacock The Witch Election Pirates TruTV Disney Channel Spike remakes spy thriller rom-coms lord of the rings royal family ESPN Toys romance james bond golden globes 72 Emmy Awards twilight festivals Extras The Walking Dead comic books YA parents cancelled TV shows Women's History Month 4/20 Epix Brie Larson Chernobyl legend historical drama dc joker VICE Animation 2016 christmas movies screenings richard e. Grant Pacific Islander Video Games Adult Swim Esquire Pixar king arthur Teen revenge Alien Nat Geo Turner Classic Movies Disney streaming service reviews Creative Arts Emmys Marvel Binge Guide 21st Century Fox 99% Comedy Central 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards tv talk Musicals FX on Hulu biopic 45 comiccon cars marvel cinematic universe italian TCA Winter 2020 zombie 24 frames versus dceu APB Polls and Games Food Network Tokyo Olympics The Academy cooking Mary poppins ratings blaxploitation facebook Paramount Network football Television Academy latino Netflix Comedy Tarantino TLC thriller best Amazon Prime Video blockbuster RT21 FX scorecard all-time strong female leads feel good period drama Marvel Studios TV One President Set visit sports E3 new star wars movies mockumentary YouTube Red TIFF laika hidden camera aapi Apple HBO Max nfl war emmy awards HBO TV NBA Spectrum Originals CBS boxing PBS Pop TV Disney Plus documentary Marvel Television Podcast A&E action-comedy Grammys prank rt archives TV movies The Walt Disney Company spinoff CW Seed new york BET Awards Winners 93rd Oscars Marathons werewolf MTV Oscars high school Apple TV+ TBS international child's play Song of Ice and Fire The CW USA Network Mystery Holidays documentaries Pride Month adaptation toronto australia streaming movies jamie lee curtis wonder woman Character Guide Holiday Cannes olympics book Pet Sematary mission: impossible Mary Poppins Returns cops Pop Sci-Fi 2019 godzilla MSNBC Columbia Pictures Paramount Plus Sundance TV scene in color know your critic monster movies canceled TV shows book adaptation Ghostbusters king kong YouTube Photos Image Comics Ovation Horror marvel comics VOD travel 20th Century Fox FOX First Reviews Cartoon Network politics green book superhero American Society of Cinematographers singing competition social media Action CMT rotten movies we love Premiere Dates halloween tv films sequel Stephen King Funimation nbcuniversal MCU Anna Paquin black natural history BAFTA composers political drama Amazon 2018 movies 90s children's TV superman Emmy Nominations jurassic park Hallmark Christmas movies cancelled television streaming archives worst Starz Cosplay Western cancelled TV series LGBTQ ID asian-american Writers Guild of America Christmas Dark Horse Comics telelvision popular hollywood Warner Bros. Mindy Kaling mcc sag awards Fox Searchlight posters Watching Series justice league Exclusive Video National Geographic Kids & Family docuseries USA History classics basketball Fantasy WarnerMedia DGA Sundance harry potter comics ABC Signature TNT Shondaland Academy Awards diversity spider-man psycho video Lionsgate The Purge Year in Review Disney+ Disney Plus casting Turner women south america Awards cartoon Reality Thanksgiving anime OWN Nominations indiana jones Quiz name the review deadpool rotten binge stop motion Black History Month stand-up comedy Britbox batman Opinion Infographic Vudu toy story witnail Universal award winner canceled discovery Paramount suspense zombies comedies criterion Wes Anderson Best and Worst romantic comedy Lucasfilm YouTube Premium Legendary Rock Broadway 71st Emmy Awards Rocketman supernatural VH1 Netflix Christmas movies adventure what to watch 2021 First Look universal monsters french Amazon Studios SundanceTV Super Bowl Red Carpet Endgame Heroines Trailer DC Comics doctor who Walt Disney Pictures crime E! hispanic ghosts Hulu technology game of thrones Sony Pictures comic book movies BBC One young adult LGBT Showtime Chilling Adventures of Sabrina medical drama screen actors guild trailers Crunchyroll DC Universe spain cancelled Countdown series 2017 ABC Baby Yoda spanish die hard dramedy Hallmark breaking bad ITV WGN Bravo PlayStation Calendar Star Trek See It Skip It 2015 critic resources Trivia vampires The Arrangement slashers Classic Film a nightmare on elm street SXSW blockbusters Tubi worst movies Drama 73rd Emmy Awards Family foreign CNN Awards Tour crime thriller Emmys Reality Competition disaster based on movie X-Men SDCC dark Schedule IFC Films Superheroe video on demand Hear Us Out Film serial killer Nickelodeon Box Office Captain marvel sequels Comic Book Disney pirates of the caribbean halloween robots razzies obituary Syfy Lifetime CBS All Access directors crossover festival Mary Tyler Moore science fiction slasher biography NBC Rocky mutant Rom-Com game show