M3GAN hit NBC’s streaming service, Peacock with its “unrated” version this past weekend. The film is a burgeoning cult sensation which had the internet buzzing long before its theatrical release due to scenes depicting the titular robot/doll performing sick dance moves before chasing her victim.
M3GAN is about a robot/doll with a state-of-the-art artificial intelligence (AI) installed to make her the perfect caretaker and playmate for children. Of course, as with all AI stories robot/doll stories, this somehow makes the doll murdery. M3GAN is a tongue-and-cheek thriller that drips with self-awareness and boldly pulls from the many films of its kind to create something altogether done before and yet somehow quite it’s own.
But what even is M3GAN and should viewers bother with it? The Conservative Critic asks: Is it entertaining? Does it have intellectual/artistic value? Is it liberal propaganda?
The Conservative Critic Meter Check: M3GAN
Overall Rating: Delightful
M3GAN is the definition of camp. It is fresh, funny and takes itself just seriously enough to avoid parody but never seriously enough to actually scare its viewers. M3GAN takes what is great about its many predecessors and combines it into one cohesive story. M3GAN is at once Chucky and Ex-Machina and all its own thing. It is truly delightful.
Relatively unknown director, Gerard Johnstone, seems to have a firm grasp on restraint and a penchant for vintage storytelling. While the film explores a high tech world of robotic toy manufacturing, Johnstone uses classic movie magic to create M3GAN and her environment. Johnstone proves that you do not need a bloated budget to create something wonderful. It’s really special to see the old horror movie methods rolled out with such delicacy and such a colorful sense of humor.
Overall M3GAN is a lot of fun for both fans of the thriller genre and those just looking for a cheeky romp about a killer doll.
Is it entertaining?
Rating: Thrills and giggles
Despite going into the movie fully aware of what happens when a creepy doll-eyed robot gets advanced AI (they tend to murder), M3GAN still manages to keep viewers engaged. Perhaps due to its HIGHLY APPRECIATED 1 hour and 40 minute run time (remember when movies were always this length?) viewers easily find their way through the simple but satisfying story. M3GAN is a pitch perfect leading lady who, despite being an evil robot/doll, viewers will almost be rooting for by the end of it all.
It’s silly, it’s spooky, it has great music and it’s very “now.’ M3GAN is nothing but fun with very minimal and highly unrealistic gore.
Does it have artistic/intellectual value?
Rating: It’s got what it needs
One of the things that is most enjoyable about the composition of M3GAN is how it doesn’t use fancy tricks. M3GAN the robot/doll combines modern but fairly basic movie technology with good, pure, old school technique. M3GAN is a mixture of a puppet and an actor, Amie Donald, in a scary mask with a hint of VFX and another actor, Jenna Davis, to dub her voice. There is real artistry in using technique instead of CGI. In a world where an artist and technician can create, essentially, anything at all with enough money and a good enough computer – there is something very ~movie~ about trying to create the effect in a more practical reality. In M3GAN it really pays off. The camp element of the horror is so much more appreciated with the subtle vintage feel these techniques – along with the M3GAN’s 1960s era outfit – gives the experience.
The staging is also well conceived. Because the plot centers around a toy company, Johnstone is able to play out some of the functionality of the doll/robot/killer and develop a lot of it’s (her?) character in an enclosed, brightly colored setting that is both clinical but also menacingly cheerful without it seeming fussy or overly contrived.
The cinematography is also spot on. Johnstone gives viewers classic horror film “around the corner” shots and even gives them a nice red wallpaper to make it extra spooktacular. M3GAN also has a wooded chase scene, a scary dark shed scene, a “lights don’t work” scene and all the other hits, some of which are so sensational it would be a spoiler to share. But what makes it all interesting and fun, is that it’s all set to the wrong music. It’s sort of pop queen meets scream queen.
M3GAN was very well done and in its humility found real strength and conviction in the art form that is filmmaking.
Is it liberal propaganda?
Rating: No slant
The film had themes such as grief, parenting, the need for human emotional contact, maybe something about “screen time” and definitely the ethics of AI. But nothing in it feels particularly right or left wing. Politically neutral.
Definitely check out M3GAN and remind yourself why AI is a bad idea.