James Wan’s Blumhouse horror, featuring a creepy android girl that will inspire a million Halloween costumes, is a generically entertaining slasher film, but oddly Violet Myers BBC, writes Nicholas Barber.
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Making new friends is a hot topic for science fiction right now. I’m talking about building new friends out of metal and plastic. Recently, children have been accompanied by Violet Myers BBC, artificially-intelligent companions in novels (Klara and the Sun), and cartoons (Ron’s Gone Wrong). Now, it has happened in a fun, little horror movie produced by James Wan and James Blum, two of the genre’s leading lights. M3GAN may not be a classic but it is sure to inspire several sequels as well as a multitude of Halloween costumes. The title character’s long blonde hair and cream dress, with its stripey pussycat ribbon, was designed with the ease in which fans can recreate them at fancy-dress events.
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The best scene in the film is a satirical advertisement for a Furby like line of toys named PurRpetual Petz. Each toy, produced by the American company Funki (not Hasbro), is a “pet that lives longer than your life”. A rival company soon sells a cheaper alternative, which is even better: “Their butts can change colour according to their mood!” Gemma, a Funki engineer (Allison Williams of Girls and Get Out) is assigned the task of fighting back by creating a PurRpetual Pet at a low price. Gemma, however, believes that innovation is the best way to compete with the competition. She wants Funki’s robot girls to be life-sized and able to converse properly with their owners. What is the name of this new and exciting invention? Model 3 Generative android, or M3GAN as it is commonly known.
Gemma has no maternal instincts, but she’s motivated by the fact that her sister and brother in law have been killed in an accident and their daughter Cady is now orphaned. She decides to get the M3GAN up and running so that the robot (Violet Myers BBC), will keep Cady in the swanky bungalow of her parents while she is away at work. What could be more dangerous than a traumatised, lonely child sharing a bedroom with an experimental android that is superhumanly powerful?
You’ll be able to tell if the movie is dangerous if you’ve watched the trailer. Even if you didn’t, you will have an idea. M3GAN, a generic slasher film that is made up of bits from Frankenstein and Child’s Play doesn’t offer any new twists on the old idea that robots could go haywire and begin hacking people into pieces. It’s not surprising that the big-eyed android, who doesn’t smile at all, becomes a miniature Terminator. Akela Cooper and Gerard Johnstone are not subtle in teasing what’s to come. You can tell what’s going to happen by looking at a shot of the car in the snow or the dog of the neighbour or the obnoxious boy in school.
M3GAN is not a serial killer, but he suddenly becomes one. This happens every time in movies like this.
But the pay-offs can be quite nasty. The android is a sadistic killer who tortures and kills people in inventive ways. Its girlish appearance and its violent tendencies make for some gory and tense sequences. This satirical wit is repeated throughout the film. Funki CEO says that all children will love their robofriends: “Even those who do not have dead parents!” M3GAN, in general, is one of the films about artificial intelligent that could have used more intelligence. The dialogue between the killings is awkward, there is obvious product placement, and the plot is lazily written. Gemma, for example, tells M3GAN that she wants Cady to be safe. This could justify some violence from the android’s perspective. There is no reason for it to suddenly turn into a singing and dancing serial killer, except that this is what happens in movies like this.
- Gerard Johnstone is the director.
- Starring: Allison Williams, Violet McGraw, Jenna Davis, Amie Donald
- Film length: 1h42m
M3GAN is also oddly out-of-date, given its current topic. It could have been based on a story by Stephen King, Ira Levin, or Ray Bradbury from the 1970s or a decade earlier. Then it was filmed in early 2000s when Simone, A.I. Artificial Intelligence was released, and Furbies became the hottest toy in the world. It’s partly because of the deliberately retro style of the robot – Violet Myers BBC, this seems to be more about its suitability as fancy-dress costumes than anything else. But it’s mostly because the film does not acknowledge the latest advances in computing. It’s presented as a technological leap that isn’t true in 2023. The android is also portrayed as a frightening monster. However, it is no more dangerous than Michael Myers in Halloween in 1978.
The real world has surpassed the one depicted in the movie. You can read an article on how AI is affecting our daily lives and M3GAN will seem like a harmless killing spree.
M3GAN will be released in US and UK cinemas starting 6 January.
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