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) 62%

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

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