If you’re looking for a sleek and futuristic time-killer, you’ve just found it. M3GAN is a forgettable science fiction movie that’s still entertaining enough to warrant a viewing. It seamlessly blends two popular concepts of killer dolls and killer robots into one alluring package. With a budget of a mere $12 million, it went on to make more than $120 million at the box office. It struck a chord with teenagers for whatever reason and soon this R-rated movie was turned into a PG-13 commercial product. Apparently, the original version was much more brutal and with a higher body count.
So, Gemma, a smart young woman working for a toy company invents a new robotic toy. She calls her M3GAN and the life-like doll seems to be the perfect fit for her young niece Cady. You can probably guess what happens next. The story is basically a blend between Child’s Play and Bicentennial Man with a bit of AI to spice things up. I appreciate the fact they didn’t cram it down our throats considering just how much popular the issue of AI is nowadays. However, the list of mildly thought-provoking subjects doesn’t stop there.
We also have the eternal struggle between the parents, kids and electronic devices. Did someone say the words screen time? This ties in nicely with the fear that this new robotic doll is going to replace the parents. Don’t get me wrong all of these questions are valid it’s just that movie doesn’t elaborate on them. They’re just there to fill the intellectual void and resonate with the general population. Add to this the concept of an industry professional aunt who doesn’t have kids or knows what to do with them and you have a winner. You can just imagine all the nudging in the theaters, yeah she’s just like your sister, look!
Despite having a lot of work with the latest line of robotic toys, Gemma still finds the time to work on her passion project. She’s trying to build a life-like doll able to teach itself various concepts, learning through interactions with other, living people. This is why when her niece Cady comes to live with her, Gemma immediately jumps at the opportunity to introduce her to M3GAN short for Model 3 Generative Android. And this is where things start to go wrong.
The best thing about M3GAN is the fact that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Some of the scenes are just ludicrously over-the-top and tongue-in-cheek. The acting was okay with most of the cast doing what they can with such a script. The lack of any strong emotions was almost hilarious. It was like, okay, they’re dead let’s move on and get to the next scene. Violet McGraw was great as Cady showing that we might be seeing a lot of her in the future. And for a moment there I thought that Allison Williams is actually Catherine Mary Stewart, my teen crush!
The Last Starfighter and Night of the Comet are still some of my favorite eighties movies despite fierce competition. Moreover, it feels that M3GAN is a movie that simply recycles some of the potent eighties concepts for the new generation. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Finally, if you’re looking for similar movies I suggest you check out Child’s Play remake from 2019 starring Aubrey Plaza. The start of that barely watchable movie is almost the same as this one but that’s not the only thing M3GAN borrowed from it.
I think that Alita: Battle Angel is a much better choice, feature better story, special effects and pretty much everything else. Or Annabelle, also produced by James Wan featuring another creepy killer doll. And you can bet your sweet behind that next year will be watching M3GAN 2: The Learning Curve.
Director: Gerard Johnstone
Writers: Akela Cooper, James Wan
Cast: Allison Williams, Violet McGraw, Ronny Chieng, Amie Donald, Jenna Davis, Brian Jordan Alvarez
Fun Facts: Actress Amie Donald was M3GAN in some of the more physical scenes with a complex puppet doing the more static ones. Her face was created using a two-layer process where the silicon mask was subsequently covered with CGI.