• Network: HBO
  • Series Premiere Date: Mar 3, 2019
Metascore
85

Universal acclaim - based on 21 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 21
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 21
  3. Negative: 0 out of 21

Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Hank Stuever
    Feb 28, 2019
    100
    The details are still appalling, but what we see and hear in Dan Reed’s riveting and sharply convincing four-hour documentary, “Leaving Neverland” (airing in two parts Sunday and Monday on HBO), supplies the viewer with an unexpected measure of calm. Even the outrage feels at last like the real deal, instead of the manufactured byproduct of tabloids and TMZ.
  2. Reviewed by: Alissa Wilkinson
    Feb 27, 2019
    100
    It is a slow, methodical, measured, and devastating rebuttal to claims that victims of sexual assault in general and Robson and Safechuck in particular are just “in it” for the fame and the money. .... A work of extraordinary restraint. It is not salacious or leering or opportunistic. There aren’t any twists. You know where it’s going from the start. At many points, the camera just quietly waits for the subject to formulate his thoughts and find a way to keep speaking. But the power is undeniable.
  3. 100
    It’s a radically empathetic film about the resonating impact of sexual abuse, as well as the personal and social forces that conspire to keep people from talking about it in public. ... The documentary feels like a conversation-realigning milestone.
  4. Reviewed by: Matthew Gilbert
    Feb 28, 2019
    90
    Leaving Neverland is not a particularly imaginative documentary, in that it sticks to a straightforward narrative, and, in its empathetic approach, doesn’t bother trying to include views from “the other side.” But ... It’s a shattering, unforgettable piece of work that will change forever the way I hear Jackson’s music.
  5. Reviewed by: Judy Berman
    Feb 28, 2019
    90
    Unlike Lifetime’s recent Surviving R. Kelly, Leaving Neverland doesn’t need to make an airtight case against a wealthy pop-music legend who still has access to vulnerable young fans. Yet it’s the absence of that active threat (if not a competing narrative from the Jackson estate and a few obsessive fans) that frees up Reed to focus on a wider-ranging inquiry into what it means to be a survivor. Viewers of all genders and ages who share that experience are bound to see their own stories in that of Safechuck and Robson. That’s more than enough reason for this eloquent documentary to exist.
  6. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    Feb 28, 2019
    90
    An appalling story of predatory child sexual abuse, told in such painful detail and at such heroic length (four hours over Sunday and Monday nights) that it’s impossible to dismiss. But what the series also makes clear, beyond almost everything else, is the power of willful blindness.
  7. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    Feb 22, 2019
    90
    Leaving Neverland possesses another layer of relevance in methodically tackling the King of Pop, and a musical legacy that has long since been at the very least clouded, and for many, forever tarnished.
  8. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Jan 25, 2019
    90
    “Leaving Neverland” is no thriller, but it’s undeniably a kind of true-life horror movie. You walk out of it shaken, but on some level liberated by its dark exposé. ... The second half of “Leaving Neverland” is mostly devoted to how Robson and Safechuck got in touch with their trauma and began to recover from it, something that only happened after Jackson’s death. It’s an essential part of the story, and part of why this is an important film.
  9. Reviewed by: Rafer Guzmán
    Feb 27, 2019
    88
    Leaving Neverland has justifiably drawn criticism for being one-sided. It notes Robson’s lawsuit only briefly and never mentions that Safechuck filed a suit of his own. Those are flaws, but the stories of these two men are too compelling to ignore. A riveting story of childhood sexual abuse and its devastating effects on survivors and families.
  10. Reviewed by: Sonia Saraiya
    Mar 18, 2019
    85
    Leaving Neverland brings the voices of alleged victims into the space you live in, which is an indelible feeling.
  11. Reviewed by: Mark A. Perigard
    Feb 28, 2019
    83
    Leaving Neverland is not balanced, not by any standard. It is, however, a devastating testament to how childhood sexual abuse rages like a ferocious cancer through survivors and their families.
  12. Reviewed by: David Ehrlich
    Jan 25, 2019
    83
    It could probably be an hour shorter if Reed cut back on all those enervating drone shots of the Los Angeles landscape (this is what happens when you’ve got four hours of HBO primetime to fill). And yet, the film is ultimately able to transcend its basic functionality. Not because of how well it conveys these particular accounts, but rather because of how comprehensively it corroborates so many others like them.
  13. Reviewed by: Richard Roeper
    Feb 27, 2019
    80
    At times Leaving Neverland feels more like a deposition than a documentary, given we’re hearing from only one side, again and again. But Lord does that side present a convincing case.
  14. Reviewed by: Lorraine Ali
    Feb 1, 2019
    80
    Leaving Neverland is heartbreaking and hard to watch for many reasons, among them that Jackson is such a part of our collective history. While there are pacing issues here and the filmmaker could have used a few more sources to widen the story, it’s a compelling look at childhood trauma, fame and the mechanics of pedophilia.
  15. Reviewed by: Dan Fienberg
    Jan 25, 2019
    80
    Leaving Neverland feels long and one could argue a tighter two-hour film would have been equally effective. It just might not have reflected the truth they want to tell. ... It's all complicated and heartbreaking and just as their perspectives aren't the same today (both are relatively new fathers) as when they were pre-teens or in their twenties, it's doubtful you'll feel exactly the same after watching four hours of Leaving Neverland.
  16. Reviewed by: Brian Tallerico
    Mar 1, 2019
    75
    As Robson’s sister says, “I’m not taking anything from Michael’s talent as a superstar, but, as a man, as a human being, he’s hurt people. And those people that he’s hurt should have a chance to talk about it and they should be allowed to be OK.” It’s impossible to argue with her.
  17. 75
    The documentary is less focused on finger-pointing than Jackson fans or the late singer’s estate might think. It’s more focused on hearing these men tell and tell until their minds can’t bear to tell anymore. It’s more focused on changing up the still-unfolding post-Harvey Weinstein shift in our reactions to victims’ stories of alleged abuse.
  18. Reviewed by: Danette Chavez
    Feb 22, 2019
    75
    A harrowing watch, the soaring orchestral score from Chad Hobson providing a jarring counterpoint to Robson and Safechuck’s graphic accounts of the abuse they say they suffered from Jackson over several years. ... The documentary maker’s credulity is valiant, but it also prevents Leaving Neverland from achieving the same scope as his other works like Three Days Of Terror (another HBO production) or his Emmy-nominated documentary, Terror In Mumbai.
  19. Reviewed by: Kristen Baldwin
    Feb 21, 2019
    75
    As a documentary in the strictest sense of the word, Leaving Neverland is a failure. As a reckoning, though, it is unforgettable.
  20. Reviewed by: Steve Pond
    Feb 1, 2019
    75
    The power of "Leaving Neverland" lies in the faces of the two men telling their stories, and the anguish of mothers trying to measure their own complicity. It’s hard not to see truth in those faces, but no doubt many will continue to resist.
  21. Reviewed by: Chris Barsanti
    Feb 28, 2019
    63
    It’s a harrowing account that doesn’t turn away from the brutal realities of what the men describe as meticulously plotted seduction and rape.
User Score
5.4

Mixed or average reviews- based on 260 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Mar 3, 2019
    0
    Horrible. There is not one inch of evidence anything they said in this movie is true. For that this is more than disgusting that it evenHorrible. There is not one inch of evidence anything they said in this movie is true. For that this is more than disgusting that it even exist. It is basically a 4 hour tabloid gossip special. Full Review »
  2. Mar 3, 2019
    0
    Badly acted, bad scrip. bad filming, score, sound, color. Everything about it is made in an amateur beginner way. Those two where far fromBadly acted, bad scrip. bad filming, score, sound, color. Everything about it is made in an amateur beginner way. Those two where far from believable "actors". I am gonna call them actors because it felt like they where reading of a script. 90 hours of footage was recorded and this is the best they got? I wonder how many times they filmed one scene. Ne emotion, not one tear was shredded during the entire film. One scene he holds something he claims belongs to Michael Jackson. With out proof of course. While holding it... i dont know why he would still have that. He barely flinches. Makes no reaction. Acting school aint that expensive is it? In summary, i just wasted four hours of my life watching two people talk, just talk. Thank you so much HBO Full Review »
  3. Mar 3, 2019
    0
    This is everything but a documentary. It omits facts or evidence. While it shows stories that they claim happened with out having any evidenceThis is everything but a documentary. It omits facts or evidence. While it shows stories that they claim happened with out having any evidence to support any of it, just words. Here is some facts the movie avoids. Clearly because bad news sells and the director had a clear agenda and biased. Which is why he interviews the two accusers and no one else. No one from the other side. That is what we call propaganda and the actual definition of fake news. Ok. There are three cases against Michael Jackson. 93, 03 and 2013. The father who accused him in 93 is literally on tape talking about framing and blackmailing Michael Jackson with false allegations(not in the movie.. wonder why). The family who went to trial in 05 have a long history of falsely accusing others and companies for a living(there is no mention of that. Again, wonder why?) Everyone who went to trial called it a mess and a circus. They said that it should never even go to trial. It was as stated by the jurors so obvious that no molestation that ever occurred. Now these two men in the film sued the Jackson estate for huge sum of money in 2013/14 together, under the same lawyer. They where caught lying in there own lawsuit and there case was thrown-ed out. The judge did not find these two credible. The judge stated that the amount of contradictions and lies made made both of them lose credibility. Now they are appealing the lawsuit for money yet again. Thinking probably that this movie will help by having the public with them. Both of them owe the Michael Jackson estate thousands of dollars btw. Again not showned in this so called "documentary". For all the reasons I stated and believe me, there is more. This movie is a failure and a disgrace. Shame. Full Review »