This is a film that got a whole lot of hype before it came out. The marketing for this film was impressive because it was on the map instantly and the film did have an interesting premise so you figured it could probably do well. Ultimately the film does fumble a bit which keeps it from being a solid movie in the end but I still think the premise is good and I’d be interested in seeing what a sequel does. There is definitely a lot of room for more adventures with the evil doll.
The movie starts off Cady’s parents both being taken down for the count in a car crash so she is sent to live with her aunt Gemma. Gemma is a genius inventor trying to build the world’s first life sized robotic doll and has no time for helping a kid grow up. So she retools the robot: M3gan to be Cady’s friend and it goes so well that she convinces her boss to let her go live with it. They will have a big presentation and everything to make them the number 1 rated toy company of all time. Is this toy actually a good thing though or has Gemma just built something that could threaten all life on the planet?
This is the kind of movie where you always wonder if M3gan will just be evil from the jump or if she’ll meet enough bullies to put her on the dark side. Well, ultimately I would say this is one of those cases where she was just twisted from the start. Now I think if Gemma had been nicer to M3gan and treated her like a real person then this could have been avoided but that’s a lot of “could have” “would have” etc and at the end of the day we can only blame M3gan’s actions on M3gan herself. She could have taken the high road and the instant she cracked that was on her.
Basically her main directive is to protect Cady at all times and she does well in this function. Any threats are promptly eliminated and without mercy. The problem is that she doesn’t care because from her programming she just needs Cady to be safe. Everything else plays second fiddle to that goal and so she is following the programming, it just really wasn’t well thought through. That’s the main problem here. Gemma rushed this too much and ends up paying the price for it. You need safety measures in anything like this and it’s also why this project will never work for kids. Having full sized robots/dolls will never be feasible for a lot of obvious reasons. There is no way to guarantee that the robot will remain safe and wholesome.
M3gan does have super strength as a result of being robotic though and it’s nice to see her flexing on the cast. She gets a decent body count by the end. It’s not big like a slasher film or anything but you can generally tell when she is about to bump someone off. One character I actually felt bad for here was Gemma’s boss. Yes, the film portrays him as an antagonist but I didn’t agree with that. He has a ton of very legitimate reasons to be upset with her. First off, she is using company funds to build M3gan against his explicit orders. So it’s not like she didn’t know. He told her to stop wasting money on this project and she disobeyed his direct orders.
Furthermore, she ended up locking him out of her lab. She had no real respect for the boss and kept on ruining his day. So when M3gan corners the guy you feel bad for him because he really tried his best to stop the robot apocalypse from happening. He even had the right reaction which was to start running as soon as he saw her. Unfortunately it was just too late for him. There’s also another guy who wants to steal the designs for M3gan but that plot never really goes anywhere. He was taken out pretty quickly anyway and at first I thought that was going to be how the sequel happens because he rebuilds her but based on how the film ends this isn’t how things are going to play out.
There is a bit of a cliffhanger here. It’s not trying all that hard as far as horror endings go but it’s fun enough. Again, I do think there is a lot of potential with a sequel. You could maybe even switch up the characters a bit but either way works. Right now Cady wasn’t a great character but with a time skip she will be old enough to really contribute to the plot so that could help. She does have a good idea at the end of the film and does some damage though so I’ll give her some credit there. Additionally she is depressed for a while in the film because of her parents dying so you have to cut her some slack there.
I didn’t particularly like Gemma though. I know part of that is from her character arc of realizing that she wasn’t being a good guardian and stepping up but it takes a while to get to that point and in the meantime you’re shaking your head. She didn’t handle any of the situations with the boss very well and additionally I would say that she didn’t handle the M3gan situation well either. Shutting her off mid dialogue was a really bad move because it further reinforces that M3gan isn’t a part of the family. Likewise with shutting her off randomly. All of these things only serve to speed up M3gan’s corruption and demise. It probably would have happened at some point anyway but Gemma really could have done better all throughout.
The visuals for the movie are definitely impressive. M3gan looks very lifelike and seeing her pull off complicated dance moves while murdering everyone is great. She really stands out as a new horror icon that should withstand the test of time. In general we also don’t get a ton of horror films taking place around a high tech building and everything so it was cool to see her there in the real world and not just in abandoned forests and such.
The film isn’t even all that violent for a horror film. You get the occasional violent moment like the boss’s death but for the most part it’s fairly restrained. The only thing that really hurts the film is that it decided to get the dog involved. The instant the mean neighbor showed up with her dog I knew it was over. Both the dog and the neighbor would likely die in gruesome ways and that would be it. At least the dog is off screen but the film still included the death and doing that in general was a really bad idea. This is definitely not the way to increase the stakes and really shot the film in the foot. It’s still better than most horror films but this could have been a good movie and they blew it in the end.
Overall, M3gan is a unique horror film and one that should stay well known but it wasn’t as good as it could have been. I’d say that the movie left a lot on the table of the possibilities of an evil guard doll. In a way they should have not had the main characters find out yet because that would have set the sequel up really well. Do a slow burn as she gets more and more demented to the point where she becomes a menace to be stopped. I think that would have been a good premise for a ton of stories but there is no way to go back after that. That’s why I think having her appear with a new family in the next film makes the most sense but of course everyone loves a good revenge story so that could work too. We’ll see how it goes.