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) 71%

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) 61%

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) 15%

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

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