Combustible Celluloid Review - M3GAN (2023), Akela Cooper, based on a story by Akela Cooper, James Wan, Gerard Johnstone, Allison Williams, Violet McGraw, Amie Donald, Jenna Davis (voice), Jen Van Epps, Brian Jordan Alvarez, Jack Cassidy, Ronny Chieng, Lori Dungey, Stephane Garneau-Monten, Arlo Green, Kira Josephson
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With: Allison Williams, Violet McGraw, Amie Donald, Jenna Davis (voice), Jen Van Epps, Brian Jordan Alvarez, Jack Cassidy, Ronny Chieng, Lori Dungey, Stephane Garneau-Monten, Arlo Green, Kira Josephson
Written by: Akela Cooper, based on a story by Akela Cooper, James Wan
Directed by: Gerard Johnstone
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violent content and terror, some strong language and a suggestive reference
Running Time: 102
Date: 01/06/2023
IMDB

M3GAN (2023)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Maul Doll

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

A combination of sly, funny, self-awareness, a genuine sense of human grief and emotional connection, and an unsettlingly creepy-cool killer robot, this fun horror pic hits all the right buttons.

Robotics engineer Gemma (Allison Williams) works for a toy company and is attempting to build a sophisticated, realistic, AI robot toy, with disappointing results. At the same time, Gemma's sister and her husband are killed in a car accident, leaving Gemma in charge of her young niece Cady (Violet McGraw).

After getting off to a rocky start as a guardian, Gemma is suddenly inspired to finish her creation. M3GAN (played by Amie Donald and voiced by Jenna Davis) and Cady become quickly attached to one another, and for a while this friendship seems to be helping with Cady's grief. But before long, M3GAN begins to develop disturbing tendencies, and violent "accidents" begin occurring all around the family.

With a story concocted by James Wan and Akela Cooper (Hell Fest, Malignant), M3GAN understands how horror movies are wired, and gets pleasure in teasing us with these tropes, while cheerfully sidestepping the story's flaws. M3GAN is in roughly the same vein as Chucky and the Terminator, but opposite.

Her delicate frame, wide eyes, and blonde locks make her attacks seem somehow more potent, more surprising, and the movie uses them to the fullest capacity. The human characters are just as interesting, as they grapple with loss in realistic, touching ways, going through rage, sadness, guilt, etc. (M3GAN's onscreen POV display, which shows her detected percentages of human emotions, is a huge kick.)

The slick, neatly-paced M3GAN keeps ramping things up until a smashing showdown, face-to-interface.

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