January is known as a dump month at the theater, with the perception that films released this month are destined for cinematic oblivion. According to critics, Gerard Johnstone's M3GAN, out Friday, is a clear exception. The PG-13 horror film—in which a roboticist (Allison Williams) enlists the help of a self-learning doll (played by Amie Donald and voiced by Jenna Davis) to protect her orphaned niece (Violet McGraw) at all costs—has a 95% rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. Here's what they're saying:
- "A high-kitsch cautionary tale for an age when technology, especially for kids, is becoming the new companionship," M3GAN "almost feels like it could be a cult film, the sort of thriller that generates a small but devoted following and maybe a sequel or two," writes Owen Gleiberman at Variety. He describes the Model 3 Generative Android as "HAL 9000 meets a lost Olsen sister meets Chucky."
- It's "one of those films that deserves the hype and then some," writes Chase Hutchinson at the Seattle Times. "A treat of a horror romp" that's "more silly than it is truly scary," the film "keeps finding new ways to tease out the most fun it can from its premise." In M3gan, expect "a pint-size version of the Terminator with heaps of sass," he writes. "It is a sharp film and classic character that is worth lending your ear to, even as it could soon be ripped free from your head."
- "While the kills could be bigger, bolder, and more frequent—and the slow-burn nature of the first half is entirely unnecessary … M3GAN exists as a delightfully chaotic pop culture pastiche" with "the kind of undeniable replay value that those in search of the newest unhinged 'girlie out for blood' movie long for," writes Sarah-Tai Black at the Globe and Mail. And though it "doesn't revolutionize the subgenre that it's working in, it is a hell of a good time."
- You might just "love every bonkers minute of it," writes Brian Truitt at USA Today, noting the film "satisfies with slasher gusto, Black Mirror-esque satire and social media savvy." "It's also just plain fun to watch a film that packs a healthy amount of absurdity alongside an insightful exploration of 21st-century parenting, though you might never trust Alexa ever again afterward." While Williams "impresses" and McGraw "holds her own," it's the "highly entertaining mean-girl machine" that "is the movie's marvel," he adds.
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