If you’ve spent any time on social media in recent months, you’ll surely be aware of the creepy dance scene that went viral following the release of the first trailer for M3GAN and the subsequent marketing of the movie has been spot-on too. However, a consequence of that success was that the final movie turned out not to be quite the slaughter-fest that screenwriter Akela Cooper had originally intended, with the body count and rating set to have been much higher before teens started taking an interest in recreating the M3GAN viral dance. What this does mean is that M3GAN is neither gory nor scary, but it does manage to take what is a very familiar format and put a fresh and enjoyable spin on it.
Gemma (Alison Williams) works at toy company Funki, who are responsible for a range of Furby-like toys called Purpetual Pets. An advert for the toys features in the opening moments of the movie and proves to be one of its funniest and most satirical scenes. Gemma works as a lead robotics engineer and has been tasked with the job of coming up with a budget version of the pets in order to beat a rival company that is producing their own even better version (“Their butts change colour to show their mood!”).
But Gemma believes that the way to beat the competition is to come up with something completely different and has been working secretly with her colleagues on M3GAN (Model 3 Generative ANdroid), a life-size robot that can talk to its owner, adapting as it learns from them. Funki boss David (Ronny Chieng) isn’t impressed though after discovering that the latest M3GAN prototype isn’t really working too well, and he shuts the project down. But when Gemma suddenly becomes guardian to her niece Cady (Violet McGraw) following the death of her parents in a car accident, she decides to revisit the M3GAN project as a way to provide the companionship and guidance to Cady that Gemma feels unable to provide her.
This time, the new version works well and after pairing M3GAN with Cady, they become best friends. M3GAN is patient with Cady, listening and talking with her, storing her memories as audio files for her to replay at any time, and, most importantly, is programmed to protect her. A demonstration of the bond between child and toy for David goes much better than the last time and he is immediately excited about the potential of the product, declaring “We’re going to kick Hasbro in the dick!”. He arranges a meeting with the big execs and tasks Gemma with putting together a presentation for them. But, we all know from experience how these things eventually play out and as M3GAN continues to learn, she becomes more and more advanced, and those big eyes and softly spoken voice are clearly starting to hide something dangerous.
We catch a glimpse of that danger thanks to a number of kills which take place off-screen (to help cater to that younger audience) – a difficult next-door neighbour and her noisy dog, a nasty little boy who bullies Cady – but it takes a while for Gemma to fully realise that her programming is a little bit off, by which time it’s far too late to pull the plug without a fight. Cue the creepy dancing and joyful killing spree.
Despite the lack of horror and the fact that we’ve seen the killer doll plot plenty of times in the past, M3GAN still manages to be hugely entertaining from start to finish. Hats off to those who helped bring M3GAN to life too – Amie Donald with the body movements and Jenna Davis as the voice – giving us a new and exciting horror character who will no doubt become an easy, popular costume choice come next Halloween. With a sequel already in development, I can’t wait to see what they do next and just hope they’re able to make things a little less toned down next time.
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Web developer by day, with a movie and TV watchlist that continues to grow as much as my spare time reduces! My favourite movie is Inception and, despite what everyone says, I do not have a man-crush on Tom Cruise.