M3GAN [Grade: 85%]

Director: Gerard Johnstone

Story By: Akela Cooper & James Wan

Cast: Allison Williams, Amie Donald, Violet McGraw, Jen Van Epps, Brian Jordan Alvarez, & Ronny Chieng

* * *

A tech toy maker adopts her niece and is inspired to carry out on an idea that could revolutionize the toy industry and relationship between children and their toys forever, but not without malfunctioning consequences. This is M3GAN! 

I didn’t know what to expect from this film. What social media latched on to from the trailer as a form of free promotion started to make the idea of this film a little gimmicky, and I was concerned… but the experience proved to be something totally different, and I definitely enjoyed myself. The energy in the theater, as well as the energy of my best friend (who was able to stay alert without a drink in hand) was further indication of this film’s entertainment value. 

* * *

Theme & Story: A-

Pacing: A-

Character: A-

Overall “Paper” Score: A-

* * *

Entertainment Factors

General Public: Worth the $$$

Horror Fans: Don’t Rush

Possessed Toy Concept Fans: Interesting Enough

Experience Seekers (Jump Scares & Violence): Don’t Rush

Overall “Viewing Experience” Score: Interesting Enough

* * *

TAKEAWAYS:

**For 2023, I’ve decided to go back to how I used to “review” films by just giving some takeaway moments from my viewing experience. At the very bottom of the my takeaways is my analysis, which includes spoilers. 

1. First off, shout out to Ami Donald who played M3GAN! 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾

2. I appreciated the way the film layered the levity with the “horror.” It didn’t feel forced or like an awkward meshing. 👍🏾

3. I did not like the moment with her collectibles… that psychiatrist was not that damn intimidating… 🤨

4. OOOOOO that last moment before the end credits… 🫢

5. Now how do you forget to include those controls when creating a toy? Like, c’mon now! 🤦🏾‍♂️

6. Personally, the charging station creeped me out. She needed to be laying down or connected to something. 😅🤷🏾‍♂️

7. I am not sure why she decided to dance in that moment… it felt randomly added for entertainment. 🤨

8. I do wish there was space in the story to rationalize M3GAN’s other learning… 🤔🤷🏾‍♂️

9. Chile, when she started singing… I could not!😩🤣

10. The visual of her on the “toy table”… … … I feel out! She was over it! 🤣🤣🤣

BONUS 11. Now Cady… Cady missed out on a few discipline opportunities because I understand being angry and upset, but you better control yourself… 👀👀👀

BONUS 12. “F— Off, Holly!” 🤣

BONUS 13. Not the Tinder alerts… 😂

** ** **

Overall #M3GAN gives 2019 Child’s Play – meets Frankenstein – meets Black Mirror’s Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too episode – meets Smart House 

This was a nice thriller, and fun start to getting folks together in the theater for the start of 2023. It’s definitely heavy on the creepy with moments of mundane comedy than it is “horrifying…” and I do feel like the PG-13 rating held it back just a little bit because I wonder what this film would’ve done had it been given the same R rating as Chucky or the 2019 Child’s Play reboot (which is still my favorite remake-take on the possessed, killer toy idea)…

** STOP: GRADE JUSTIFICATIONS BELOW WITH SPOILERS **

Why the A- for theme and story?

When it comes to thematic followthrough, I found the character Cady and her relationship with M3GAN to carry out the theme extremely well, along with some of the strategic dialogue amongst the adults. 

Cady was clearly dealing with trauma associated with the death of her parents, but we also get a glimpse of a child who struggled with having a genuine relationship with her parents in the first place via the conversation being had between her parents while she was in the backseat. Cady was very involved with not just “her toys,” but with a specific toy that provided some sense of interaction that she wasn’t getting from home, which caused concern for the parents. So this idea of human connection was laid out immediately. Later on, we get conversations about Cady having the doll as means of coping with the death, and attachment theory to further anchor the theme focused on human connection in addition to the theme around pacifying trauma. 

Where I feel the story had a misstep was providing these child-parent moments that were meant to help give the idea of M3GAN purpose (in my opinion), but didn’t quite fit with the image of who Cady was and her relationship with adults. For example, the bedtime story? I didn’t really get that from Cady’s interaction with her mom, but it definitely works with showing what this doll could do for young children later on. 

Additionally, in regards to M3GAN, the story doesn’t make clear how M3GAN learns to kill and be violent (something I truly appreciated with the 2019 Child’s Play). It could be inferred that due to her technology, she was able to access the web and learn these things, but why would she? There was never a conversation about violence, only about “death.” We could’ve at least had some of her files show browsing history of death, forms of death, or something… No, it M3GAN didn’t go from 0-100, but she definitely had a gradual speed up without any speed limits posted for justification. 

Why the A- for pacing?

Pacing went well for entertainment, but as mentioned with M3GAN, pacing moved a little too fast to justify her sudden shift in behaviors. Even simply mentioning the lack of parental controls installed in M3GAN, and M3GAN telling Gemma about her using a program that she didn’t know anything about (which also felt odd seeing Gemma was pretty much a smart, tech woman with a team), doesn’t do enough to really give that justification. It just gives enough for me to suspend disbelief and enjoy the entertainment. 

Why the A- for character?

Gemma. Gemma just felt like a well used character prop, but she was a smart woman. Some of the decisions that were made by Gemma didn’t make sense (like the lack of parental controls), and I don’t feel like the film really allowed Gemma to be this super work driven woman which could have added a different texture to the overall character interaction between her and Cady, as well as the story with M3GAN. By the time we get to Act Two, there’s a side of Gemma that comes out and makes sense when trying to build relationship with Cady on that more “parenting” side as a way to show Gemma responding to what others are telling her, but it also seems to go against who Gemma was as the “toy making aunt.” Personally, the moment she decided to break into her collectible for the psychiatrist is when I realized Gemma’s character is being used to move the story along. She was thought out well for this purpose, but there was also more to who her character was and how she could’ve been used a little more intentionally and reasonably. 

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