With January in the books, “M3GAN” is the surprise hit for Blumhouse and Universal, earning approximately 160 million globally to date.
The film centers on a life-like doll named M3GAN, an artificial intelligence built by robotics engineer Gemma (Allison Williams). Gemma gives nearly every hour of her life to her employer, the Funki toy company Funki, and has little time for herself or a healthy social life.
M3GAN is designed with the ability to observe and learn as she takes on the roles of friend, teacher, playmate, and protector for the child assigned to her.
When Gemma’ eight-year-old nice, Cady (Violet McGraw), is tragically orphaned in an accident, Gemma is given sole custody of the young girl. Gemma decides that it’s a prudent move to pair M3GAN with Cady as M3GAN is designed with the ability to observe and learn as she takes on the roles of friend, teacher, playmate, and protector.
However, M3GAN’s bond to Cady becomes a problem that only grows in a very dangerous and ultimately violent journey that makes her the 21st century popcorn equivalent of HAL 9000.
The film takes the concept of “Child’s Play” and adds a tinge of “Fatal Attraction” in a horror-thriller that amuses but ever elevates. The script is entirely concept driven and additional drafts could have given Williams and her costars more texture. Comedian co-star Ronny Chieng plays the Funki company boss and comic relief in the corporate lambasting portion of the film.
The corporate satire is a key part of director Gerard Johnstone’s balancing act of horror and humor in the first and second acts. The film moves at a good pace, clearly understanding the audience that it’s bringing to the theaters.
M3GAN is a singing, slaying, and dancing machine that seems to have a bright violent future as a forthcoming sequel has already been announced. Much like Netflix’s “Wednesday” had a viral dance, the “M3GAN” dance is flourishing on social media and likely driving the theatrical total much higher than traditional marketing.
The sci-fi concept of robot gone rogue is nothing new, but the execution and packaging of the idea here deserves acknowledgment amid a month of traditionally disastrous film releases.
Letter Grade: C+