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+

About The Author

Founder, Awards Editor

Byron Burton is the Awards Editor and Chief Critic at Awards Focus and a National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Award winning journalist for his work at The Hollywood Reporter.

Byron is a voting member of the Television Academy, Critics Choice Association, Hollywood Creative Alliance, and the Society of Composers & Lyricists (the SCL) for his work on Marvel's X-Men Apocalypse (2016). Working as a journalist and moderator, Byron hosts Emmy and Oscar panels for the major studios, featuring their Below The Line and Above The Line nominees (in partnership with their respective guilds).

Moderating highlights include Ingle Dodd's "Behind the Slate" Screening Series and their "Spotlight Live" event at the American Legion in Hollywood. Byron covered the six person panel for Universal's "NOPE" as well as panels for Hulu's "Pam & Tommy Lee" and "Welcome to Chippendales" and HBO Max's "Barry" and "Euphoria."

For songwriters and composers, Byron is a frequent moderator for panels with the Society of Composers and Lyricists (SCL) as well as The ArcLight's Hitting the High Note Oscar series.

Byron's panels range from FX's Fargo to Netflix's The Crown, The Queen's Gambit, The Witcher & Bridgerton; HBO Max's The Flight Attendant, Hacks, Succession, Insecure, & Lovecraft Country; Amazon Studios' The Legend of Vox Machina, Wild Cat, & Annette; and Apple TV+s Ted Lasso, Bad Sisters, and 5 Days at Memorial.

In February of 2020, Byron organized and hosted the Aiding Australia Initiative; launched to assist in the restoration and rehabilitation of Australia's wildlife (an estimated 3 billion animals killed or maimed and a landmass the size of Syria decimated).

Participating talent for Aiding Australia includes Robert Downey Jr., Michael Keaton, Jeremy Renner, Harrison Ford, Jim Carrey, Josh Brolin, Bryan Cranston, Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, JK Simmons, Tobey Maguire, Alfred Molina, James Franco, Danny Elfman, Tim Burton, Kim Basinger, Robert Wuhl, Tim Allen, Colin Hay, Drew Struzan, and Michael Rosenbaum.

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