“M3GAN is a flawed but somewhat successful comedic thriller that at least cements Akela Cooper’s status as one of the horror genre’s most unique voices.”
Akela Cooper’s confident screenplay
Violet McGraw’s engaging supporting role
A satisfyingly action-packed third act
Gerard Johnstone’s mild direction
A slow, meandering first act
An emotional third act that doesn’t feel quite deserved
M3GAN is an absolutely ridiculous movie and mostly knows it. The new film from director Gerard Johnstone and Malignant Author Akela Cooper takes the killer-robot sci-fi subgenre to its goofiest extremes – and offers an experience that feels a bit like it’s happening child’s play and Ex Machina should form an unholy union together. The film follows a similar narrative path to the latter, but does so with the irreverent, intentionally distasteful attitude of the former.
Whether or not this unique tonal cocktail works will no doubt vary from viewer to viewer, however M3GANThe opening scene of , which hilariously parodies modern day toy commercials, makes it very clear that no one should take the film too seriously. As far as creative choices go, this is a brilliant path for M3GAN to begin with, especially considering how increasingly weird and silly the film becomes once its eponymous, lifelike robotic puppet is actually introduced. That’s not to say, however, that the arguments the film makes for its own franchise potential are entirely successful or compelling.
Like most great horror movies M3GANThe premise of is simple: when her parents are both killed in a tragic car accident, Cady (Violet McGraw) is forced to move in with her aunt Gemma (Allison Williams). It doesn’t take long for Gemma to realize that not only does she have no parenting skills, but she has very little initial interest in actually making the effort to build one. In response, Gemma, who happens to be a genius inventor, decides to build a toy that will be able to take care of her grieving niece’s every need.
The resulting toy is M3GAN, a robot covered in enough synthetic hair and rubber latex to look vaguely lifelike. Gemma pairs M3GAN with Cady and essentially begins using her niece’s relationship with her latest invention as an attempt that will prove to her toy company boss David (Ronny Chieng) and a group of investors that M3GAN really is the toy of the future. Unfortunately for Gemma, not only does Cady grow dangerously close to her new friend, but it’s not long before M3GAN starts seeing people or animals that pose a threat to Cady as issues that need to be dealt with.
M3GANLuckily, he presents all these twists and turns with his tongue lodged firmly, almost painfully, in his cheek. From her cringeworthy, american girl-esque costumes to her habit of singing cliche pop songs to Cady, M3GAN (played by Amie Donald and voiced by Jenna Davis) is a worthy addition to cinema’s long line of notoriously evil playthings. She’s insidiously malicious and unpredictable, a fact proven when she decides to break out into a hilarious, pesky dance just moments before stabbing one of her victims with the sharp blade of a paper cutter.
Cooper’s script wisely makes M3GAN a distinctive 21st century product. She carries herself with such a poisonous confidence that it’s impossible to believe her personality could ever have evolved like this in a pre-#GirlBoss era of the internet. During M3GAN‘s PG-13 rating prevents Johnstone from depicting the full, gory scale of the film’s violence, the director does an effective job of showing just enough of his murderous puppet’s killings to make their impact felt.
However, Johnstone does not bring much visual flair M3GAN. Aside from the killer of his eponymous toy, the aforementioned dance routine, M3GAN is a largely muted, static visual affair. This fact only makes the slow, overly long first act of the film appear more dreary and meandering. Besides, though M3GAN Rarely missing an opportunity to acknowledge the absurdity of its title character’s existence, the film isn’t packed with as many laughs or shocking kills as it could have – and it does should to have – been.
That does not help M3GAN revolves around Williams’ Gemma, a character who reacts coldly to the arrival of her niece and hardly seems to mourn the loss of her own sister. The film, intentional or not, never makes a strong case as to why Gemma is actually the right person to raise Cady, and Williams’ cool, understated performance doesn’t help much. Gemma’s overall arc thus never quite works, nor does her inevitable shift in perspective feel undeserved when it finally comes.
Through Gemma’s numerous blunders, Cooper and Johnstone find ways to include some surprising social comments M3GAN, most of which denounce the way modern parents often use their children’s digital devices to do some of their parenting work for them. The film’s relatively light social themes are never completely overwhelming M3GAN, but they never threaten to take his sense of silly fun away either. Unlike Williams, McGraw also manages to infuse a bit of emotional realism into the film with her surprisingly engaging performance as Cady, the young girl whose emotional trauma is essentially the foundation M3GAN‘s action.
Chieng, meanwhile, gives a memorably over-the-top performance as David, Gemma’s perpetually frustrated, selfish boss. Chiang receives many of the funniest lines in M3GAN, and whenever it’s on screen, the film is often at its comedic side. It’s easy to see his fate coming from a mile away, of course, but that’s the case with most events M3GAN‘s third act, which is as violent and absurd as its story demands.
The film’s final 20 minutes send him into an adrenaline-pumping high, though it’s hard not to dismiss Johnstone and Cooper’s last-minute attempts to pull off a sequel as superfluous. After all, while M3GAN offers a fairly entertaining time in theaters, it’s far from the kind of creatively flamboyant or inventive success that would justify any interest in a sequel.
M3GAN is in cinemas now. We also have a detailed explanation of M3GANis over.
The end of M3GAN explained
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