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) 63%

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) 13%

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 (Rory's Way) (2019) , 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 (2019)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

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