'M3GAN' Review: This Killer Doll Movie Sets the Bar High for 2023 Movies

Might just be vicious this year

We're only days away from 2023, and M3GAN might just be my favorite movie of the year. In 2023, you have a lot to do!

If you've seen the trailer for M3GAN, you know the story very well. Allison Williams stars as Gemma, a roboticist who works for a company that makes artificially intelligent toys. When her sister and brother-in-law are killed in a car accident in the film's opening scene, she stays behind to care for her 9-year-old niece Cady (Violet McGraw). Despite working with toys, Gemma has no experience working with children and it shows. She's awkward around Cardi, doesn't understand simple things like getting toys for the kids, and avoids talking about difficult topics -- like the death of her parents. Instead, Gemma is fast-tracking a new toy she's been building, the Model 3 Generative Android — or M3GAN for short.

M3GAN is a doll that can synchronize and learn from a child - in this case Cady. She has all sorts of fancy AI bells and whistles, meaning she can learn everything a kid needs to know, from facts about coagulation, to how to draw and dance, to having conversations and being a good listener. Cardi Connect to M3GAN soon. M3GAN connects as fast as Cady, but with deadlier results. As you can see, M3GAN's main directive is to protect Cady physically and emotionally. So when someone hurts Cady, M3GAN takes care of it himself. Then she becomes less like Raggedy Ann and more like a Terminator.

There are no twists and turns in M3GAN. No big surprises, nothing you don't expect. That's partly because the marketing department leaked the entire movie in the second trailer. But despite this, M3GAN is still a great movie. It's funny, funny, and weird. One of the best shots in the film shows M3GAN sitting on a toy table surrounded by traditional plush teddy bears and puppies and more. Then there's M3GAN, who sits quietly with a serious expression on her face.

M3GAN is a miracle in itself. With a combination of puppets, animatronics, VFX, and live-action actors (Amy Donald, voiced by Jenna Davis), it's hard to tell when she's real, when she's fake, and when she's a composite. M3GAN's sound design Certainly helps with the hallucinations of the characters. With almost every step, the M3GAN hums and clicks, the sound of gears turning. It's not loud enough to be obnoxious, just noticeable, so it's clear that M3GAN is a robot. Jenna Davis brings a particularly cheerful vocal to M3GAN, making her voice both relaxed and ominous. The human actors are also great. Allison Williams brings her A-game as always, playing Gemma as the overwhelmed aunt who thinks she has everything under control. Especially impressive is young Violet McGraw, who is adorable as Cardi, bringing both grief to her parents' death and joy to her new friends. She's a brat when she needs to be, and she's caring when the time is right.

The film was not perfect. There are a couple of small plot details that feel thrown in, namely the hint of corporate espionage mentioned later, but never really explored in any meaningful way, and the movie would be fine without this addition. The movie also takes its time before we run into any danger, but luckily, M3GAN is interesting enough to keep the story going.

M3GAN Might be the vicious movie of 2023. It doesn't have a twist, but it's a weird, crazy movie. Director Gerard Johnstone shines in his second film. It's not traditionally scary, but it's existentially scary. As the world makes greater strides in artificial intelligence and robotics, these scenarios become all the more dire. Luckily, you have the odd image of M3GAN wiggling its hips or driving an expensive sports car to make you giggle over your discomfort.

Rating: A-

M3GAN will be released on January 6th.

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