Starring Allison Williams, Violet McGraw, Aime Donald, Jenna Davis, Ronny Chieng, Brian Jordan Alvarez
Screenplay by Akela Cooper
Story by Akela Cooper and James Wan
Directed by Gerald Johnstone
Produced by Jason Blum and James Wan
By Matt Neufeld
Jan. 5, 2023
Lord almighty, what on earth is it going to take to get filmmakers to stop inflicting on the world this neverending sad parade of tired, formulaic, cookie-cutter, unimaginative, predictable and cliched stories about power-mad, run-amok, overly-self-aware and increasingly human-like robots, cyborgs, androids, computers, electronics, dolls, toys and machines? This uninventive, repetitive storyline and plotline was already tired, overblown and overdone by the mid-1960s, as computer-angst was already starting, even long before the current computer craziness and insanity that’s driving most of the world straight to hell.
Lord almighty, when are filmmakers going to stop portraying just about anyone who works in any area of modern-day technology as obcessive-compulsive, attention-deficient, caffeine-addicted, socially awkward nerds and geeks who can’t seem to communicate and socialize with anyone on a normal adult level?
Lord almighty, when are filmmakers going to stop making annoying movies filled with annoying, unlikable moronic lead and supporting characters who are, in essence, not appealing, likeable, lovable or appealing on any sane, emotional level?
Lord almighty, when are modern-day horror filmmakers going to possibly learn that there is more to horror storytelling than barely introducing any firm, grounded first-act exposition; barely having a firm, movable second act; not including any really solid third act at all; not including any real intelligent dialogue; substituting cheap scares and stunts and action scenes instead of real storytelling; substituting cheap and overdone violence, gore, blood and special effects instead of real storytelling; and forgetting that there’s more than storytelling than just dumbly devoting most of the third act to crazed people or creatures simply running around here, there and everywhere killing everyone and everything?
Lord almighty, when are horror filmmakers going to ever learn that extreme, excessive, bloody, gory, overdone, gross and disgusting violence is actually less effective in generating genuine horror, suspense, thrills, chills, scares, shivers, shocks and frights than subtlety, suggestion, imagination, atmosphere, mood, aura, inventive camera work, competent direction, intelligent dialogue and scripts and plotting, beautiful art and set and production design, actual talented acting, talented musical scores, artistic costumes and make-up and special effects, talented editing, and other basic elements of true, mature, intelligent filmmaking?
Lord almighty, when are filmmakers going to learn that every film—-every film—needs at least one character that is somewhat likeable?
And Lord almighty, when are increasingly, excessively and crazily wayward, cliched and violence-obcessed filmmakers Jason Blum and James Wan going to stop making these tired, cliched horror, science fiction and fantasy B-movies that are devoid of any sensible originality?
These are the quite relevant questions that permeate the tortured, weary brain while suffering through “M3GAN,” the latest horror Z-movie schlockfest disaster from producers Blum and Wan, both of whom apparently didn’t get enough of a break, rest and relaxation time-out during the virus pandemic.
“M3GAN” is so filled with all of the aforementioned filmic problems, cliches and idiocies–all of them–the next major question to ponder, as with far too many recent horror, sci-fi and fantasy films–and, come to think of it, as with too many recent non-horror, sci-fi and fantasy films, too–is just why and how this film was even green-lit for production? That’s been said lately about many truly awful films, but, still, one has to wonder.
To be clear, and the following is true: “M3GAN” is ridiculously cliched, tired, uninventive, unoriginal; overly gross and violent; filled with thoroughly unlikeable characters, even the ones who are lead and supporting characters who are apparently supposed to be protagonists; filled with plot holes; inconsistent in tone; inconsistent in thematic messages; poorly written; poorly acted; and poorly directed. And, yes, the movie gamely, lamely plays off that old, tired, cliched basic premise–a run-amok, runaway robot that increasingly becomes more and more human and more and more psychotic, violent and dangerous–completely to the movie’s disadvantage on every level.
Seriously, though–just how many times do we have to sit through television shows, television movies and theatrical films with this tired, cliched story about something non-human becoming more and more human? Even co-producer Wan previously co-produced a previous film about a demonic doll, 2014’s “Annabelle.” Is Wan, at 45, starting to suffer from some type of premature short-term memory loss? And co-producer Blum–well, Blum displays his short-term memory loss with every Z-movie gorefest violencefest he produces.
If there really is a secret, subterranean evil demonic movie assembly line factory where evil masterminds Blum and Wan manufacture their movie assembly line products, please let me know. I’d like to visit and make a few polite, constructive criticism suggestions.
There’s not really much plot or story to talk about with “M3GAN.” Basically, annoying toymaker Gemma–annoyingly played by an annoyingly miscast Allison Williams–designs a high-tech robot named Megan (but because the movie lamely tries, but fails, to score lame high-tech points by filling the script with lame high-techy science fiction mumbo-jumbo pseudo-jargon, the robot is designated with the acronym M3GAN, which stands for something, well, high-tech). And, basically, Megan, through a bizarre quirk in programming, develops human thoughts, feelings and emotions, albeit psychotic, insane, crazy, violent and flat-out loony thoughts, feelings and emotions. In what passes for a third act, Megan goes on a killing spree, gleefully, disturbingly, insanely and violently killing an innocent dog, an innocent next-door neighbor of Allison’s, an innocent co-worker, Allison’s innocent boss and an innocent elementary-school youth.
In scenes that were re-shot to make a PG-13 rating designation: Megan actually pulls the ear off of that youth, who then runs away, trips–and falls down a hill directly into the path of a car and is killed; Megan shoots that next-door neighbor with a nail gun and then sprays her in the face with poison, killing her; Megan cuts up the co-worker and the boss and leaves them lying dead and bloody in an office building elevator for everyone to see. Let’s repeat that first one: Megan pulls off the ear of an elementary-school youth. The kid runs away, falls down a hill, falls in front of a car–and dies.
That’s what you get for your stupid, misguided PG-13 rating. Really, “M3GAN” should be rated R–and this film is not recommended for anyone under the age of sixteen. At a recent public screening for this film, some very misguided people brought young kids in to see this movie–and that was far more frightening than anything up on the screen.
And, in one of many moronic plot points in this dreary, depressing movie, Gemma, who stupidly created and programmed Megan, is left to survive, even though all of the other deaths–of innocent people–were essentially her fault. The movie oddly, crazily presents no comeuppance or retribution or punishment for Gemma–which is exactly what should have occurred. Thus, the movie essentially makes no sense in regards to its main characters. And if the movie, in regards to its main characters, makes no real sense on an overall, general level, you have no real movie.
But we know that already. “M3GAN,” the movie, much like Megan the robot, sorely needed some major reprogramming. Alas, also like the fate for Megan the robot, which was eventually terminated, it’s too late for that reprogramming for the movie. All that’s left for the movie is the same fate that eventually befell Megan and that eventually befalls all expired, outdated, obsolete and poorly-made robots and machines: a quick trip to the dumpster and, eventually, the scrapheap of history.