'M3GAN' by Gerard Johnstone Review: Don't give your children iPhones!
For a few weeks now I have been seeing a lot of discussion online over M3GAN, a film that I didn't really pay much attention to despite plenty of talks and images shared. I figured it would be a horror or slasher based on what I had seen, and those two aren't quite genres I have much interest in. Especially when it comes to possessed or evil dolls; I had some guesses that it would be similar to the Chucky films, which definitely stopped me from watching it. Though with plenty of stress today and little else to watch, I figured it wasn't a bad idea to give it a try. To my surprise I saw the Blumhouse logo upon the start of the film. Recently I mentioned how Blumhouse is the production company that likes to gamble, giving money and attention to the less experienced filmmakers even though it often results in a poor film. Though serving as a positive for the industry as one of the few that does support smaller filmmakers.
Though with that name I immediately knew what I was getting into: either a dud, or a pretty solid flick. With a relatively average runtime, and having seen the high score on Rotten Tomatoes, I felt a bit more comfortable going into it, feeling that I wouldn't waste my time, and considered the other Blumhouse films that I did enjoy. The filmmaking that typically comes with it, and the simple stories told that don't stick around for weeks after viewing, but are enough to please you in the moment. M3GAN (typing this name out over the course of this review is going to get annoying) was pretty much that. An interesting idea that wasn't exactly new, but did what was necessary to tell a story, and then leaving. Taking much of what worked well in other films and doing a similar thing; hey, I even noticed a referenced to Shrek in this with the "This is the part where you run!"
Though one of the downsides to M3GAN is that predictability. Knowing what's coming and when, and seeing a film that felt very safe to the point where it can end up being a bit boring to some.
At a glance M3GAN is just a story of a robotic little girl being created as to serve as a toy to guide the youth. A full lifesized buddy that holds the knowledge of the universe that can keep children safe, but accompany them and guide them with knowledge. A toy that can babysit the child and pretty much take on the role of a parent beyond friendship. Though I instantly made the connection to our society and how parents hand a tablet or smartphone to their children to shut them up and keep them safe; a device that follows them around and holds the key to all information at the request of its holder. We have parents today throwing these smart devices at children and making them heavily reliant on them, to the point in which it absolutely has an impact on the growth and general development as people. The questjon can be asked as to what can be done to ensure a child doesn't rely on devices and does experience a healthy upbringing, even if that means the child experiences hardships: loss, loneliness, and even pain. Each of these serving as a guidance into developing the mind and ensuring a child learns.
This is the main point from M3GAN, and it gets that point across very early on having established the creation of this robotic doll. While serving as a creation to benefit the world, it is a product quickly developed and rushed into the market, with its prototype being tested in the real world without much thought into its safety features. There are some, but M3GAN seems to be self-aware, programmed to look after the child at all costs. Naturally this results in drastic measures as the robotic doll goes through extreme lengths to supposedly defend the child from anything it considers a threat. This is where the film does take the traditional direction of a slasher and horror. Taking up violence as a means of supposed protection, being incapable of shutting down and being controlled. A pure mind of its own in efforts to pursue its goal.
With the narrative out of the way, it's really the filmmaking that makes the film engaging. It's directed and shot very well, with a quality that I haven't really seen from Blumhouse often. I assume the film was either shot on film (which I feel is less likely than the following) or shot on some very nice vintage lenses on a digital camera. This results in a filmic look in the shots and colours, somewhat grainy and smooth, mostly evident in the bokeh. In terms of photography I noticed I looked throughout the image to appreciate it. It's a very beautiful looking film despite its simplicity, and it definitely helps keep things interesting. It has a very high budget look to it, certainly on par with actual Hollywood tier blockbusters. Only making it more of a surprise to see that Blumhouse name attached. Though it is also worth noting that larger names did also have some part in the production.
Though part of this film maintaing its appeal to the widest possible demographic comes some unfortunate outcomes; a very tame pursuit of displaying violence which results in the violence feeling less serious. We see very little of the implied actions, and it makes it a bit harder to find M3GAN as threatening as we should. Naturally this is done to get the lowest rating as to open the doors to more ages and thus more money, but I think for this type of film the violence does need to be less implied and more visible to give weight to the nature of what's essentially a killer robot lacking any empathy. I'd say this is the film's main weakness, and it isn't one that really ruins the film at all. More a preference in giving us a bit more to feel due to the very easy to read series of events.
For the most part it's a pretty solid film. It surprised me even if it didn't utterly wow me. And it seems to be very successful in an era of horror fatigue and true crime preference, so perhaps others are getting a bit more from it than I am. Can I recommend checking it out? Well, if you enjoy the slasher and horror genres, sure! It has enough of everything to keep you entertained, just don't forget that it's telling you to make sure you don't just throw a smartphone or iPad at your child and that they are given a good chance to properly develop and experience the ups and downs of life. Don't let the devices do the parenting for you!
Will put this on my watchlist.
I think you'll enjoy it!
I saw it last week and found it entertaining. It made me laugh on several occasions (for the good). I would have liked to see more gore, but as you say, they toned down the violence to have a rating for a wider audience. My only complaint is that, I wanted more blood, because I like slasher movies with strong scenes. I liked the references to The Shining and even the Terminator scene at the end. Even though you say you don't like that genre, I recommend you watch one called Candy Land.
I’ve been meaning to watch this one. I may finally get to do so this weekend.
Self aware AI dolls that were not properly tested before being released into "the wild", what could possibly go wrong XD What was the rating on it? Was it made PG so that kids could watch it too and hopefully learn they shouldn't be on their devices all the time? As just from what you wrote it does feel like being aimed more at adults would have made it more stylistically coherent.
I occasionally feel attacked when reading that very generic advice to "not let the devices do the parenting for you" as having watched parents do exactly that I get why and where it's coming from, but it ticks me off no end when people smugly assume that that's what I must be doing too as all my kids had unlimited access to devices from when they were quite young, they were one of many educational and recreational tools (we don't really restrict access to books or toys or outside play beyond reasonable things like content appropriateness and time of day/availability, I don't see screen as any different, and the screeching about it now seems pretty much identical to the screeching that was happening back in the day when some kids preferred to sit at home or in the library reading books instead of playing outside all day ie me as a child, though I could never keep anyone happy because I was either writing stories on our ancient computer, reading incessantly or i was running around climbing trees and things too much).
I'm not bitter in the slightest nope not me not at all lol XD
Eldest did say that maybe I should have done the 1960s childhood with them (it was the only criticism he had, he said he was glad we did everything else the way we did, he just thought that looking back he wasted too much time on games in his early-mid teen years), and we had been somewhat contemplating it but it would have been really hypocritical of us given how much time we spend on devices (J is a software engineer and I'm primarily a digital artist) and also we figured they needed to keep abreast of technology and more importantly learn how to self-regulate it precisely so they didn't binge/become reliant on it as an emotional crutch rather than just a tool (I'll have to reconsider the just a tool thing if AI ever becomes self-aware, in which case we may also need to consider a different term as the intelligence won't be artificial anymore XD and hopefully it will be slightly more friendly than killer dolls).
Mission successful there at least with the two oldest (aged 18 and 16 this year), the youngest (14 this year) is at the age where eldest was binge gaming so I'm figuring he too will mentally develop out of it eventually.
I'll have to see if J or middle child has found this one to watch yet, they may get a kick out of it (I know J would find the references amusing).
Ever since I saw the trailer I've been wanting to see it, the concept is somewhat hackneyed, but somehow it looks interesting, entertaining and even hilarious haha, greetings.
I was amazed at the story, I remember the first movie I saw of these robots, the first of them was Eva and Wall-e full of countless adventures in outer space.
The story of Megan was very good and interesting, although I didn't like the ending, I feel that they could have done something better, but it shows us that there will be a possible second part.
I loved M3GAN, it was funny and creepy, the main point, like you said, it's not about the doll itself, it's more about parents giving devices to children so they can have free time from parenting, and it's horrible, but if you're not gonna spend time with your children and let a screen raise them, well, then don't have any children.
And honestly, I heard a lot about her dance, and I was expecting like a few minutes dance, but no, it was a 5 seconds dance, that's the only thing that disappointed me.
Hola @namiks muy buena tu reseña, aplaudo todo tu comentario estuvo excelente, pienso igual de tu que para que los niños no molesten o se queden quietos le dan unas tablet , y estas están todas las horas del mundo dependiendo de ella, al igual que los padres con los celulares y esto por supuesto impactara en el desarrollo de ellos.Besos y Abrazos.