M3GAN brings the doll horror genre back to life with a darkly funny, yet terrifying film from James Wan and co. It's so good that there is hope for many sequels to come and should satisfy all genre fans. The 1080p HD transfer looks great and the DTS-HD 7.1 audio track sounds amazing. The bonus features are sparse, but they are a good watch. Without a 4K release on the way or another big collector's edition, this is the release everybody gets for now - and it's Highly Recommended!
M3GAN is a marvel of artificial intelligence, a life-like doll programmed to be a child's greatest companion and a parent's greatest ally. Designed by brilliant toy-company roboticist Gemma, M3GAN can listen and watch and learn as she becomes friend and teacher, playmate and protector, for the child she is bonded to. As Gemma faces pressure at work to deliver a finished version of M3GAN, she suddenly becomes the unprepared caretaker of her newly orphaned 8-year-old niece, Cady. Gemma decides to pair the M3GAN prototype with Cady in an attempt to resolve both problems—a decision that will have unimaginable consequences.
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
A key element to any horror movie is knowing how to have fun within its universe. Even the scariest and most serious of terrifying films can have a good time that will greatly affect their audience. Not only will the masses jump with terror and cover their eyes with horror, but they can also have a good laugh with audible laughs if done right. James Wan has perfected that craft and with the new film M3GAN about a robotic doll who becomes self-aware, the number of thrills and laughs are at the top of the mountain.
James Wan continues to be a master in the horror genre. From his bloody beginning with the Saw franchise to the creepy Conjuring and Insidious films - Wan and Co. always deliver entertaining horror bits every couple of years. During the pandemic, Wan gave the world Malignant, a new breed of horror that combined almost every genre along with the kitchen sink with classic horror tropes, jump scares, John Wick-style action, and a reveal that had everybody's jaw on the floor with laughter and shock. It shouldn't be any surprise that Malignant writer Akela Cooper came back to pen the script for M3GAN with filmmaker Gerard Johnstone (Housebound) behind the camera. With Allison Williams (Get Out, Perfection) as the perfect star, M3GAN connects every wire perfectly for a deliciously wild great time in the theater, full of laughs and genuinely scary moments of horror.
M3GAN, which stands for Model 3 Generative Android, is fully self-aware just like the robotic doll herself in its dialogue and story. It plays to the satire of technology in today's society of how we humans rely on it to function in our busy lives. From cellular devices to gaming systems, and smart hubs, these devices more or less run human lives in a variety of aspects. With M3GAN, Allison Williams plays Gemma, an inventor, and roboticist for a toy company that makes a popular child's toy similar to those iconic and pesky Furbees. But Gemma's new interest is in a lifesize doll with artificial intelligence that will become a child's best friend and help parents in their daily lives raise their young ones. So basically like the new and improved Good Guy Doll with a ton of bells and whistles.
Gemma takes in her young niece Cady (Violet McGraw) after an accident where she prototypes this M3GAN unit to help Cady cope with her grief and keep her happy while Gemma works. Has there ever been a robot film where the mechanical asshole doesn't try and kill everyone, besides the Robin Williams vehicle Bicentennial Man? Probably not. So as time goes on, M3GAN learns more and more about human culture until people start turning up dead in violent ways. In between those ultra-haunting moments with M3GAN are some truly funny situations where humans interact with this robotic doll. Not only that, there are subtle hilarious bits of comedy that show up out of nowhere that include a disheveled police detective who laughs at people's tragedies and then acknowledges it. These are the moments that keep M3GAN self-aware and in on the joke and satire, it's showcasing.
And it's obvious that Wan, Cooper, and Johnstone are having a blast behind the camera as their visuals pay homage in a blissful and hilarious way to movies like E.T., Child's Play, and other creepy toy and doll films that came before it. Everybody turns in solid performances including The Daily Show's senior correspondent Ronny Chieng as the stern and idiotic CEO of the robotic company, but the spotlight is truly on Allison Williams. She is the Queen of horror nowadays and just commands the screen every time she's on with her pitch-perfect performances and physical stuntwork. The one major complaint here is its PG-13 rating. It definitely hindered the horror element of it and could have been even better with that extra dose of gore, blood, and entrails, since many blunt instruments of death are used throughout the film. It would just enhance that level of fun here, but perhaps it was a marketing move to make way for an uncut edition later on home video.
Even with its PG-13 rating, M3GAN is a huge success in the horror genre. Its ability to have a great time with itself is infectious and brings the world a brand new villainous character that will undoubtedly show up in costume form and cosplay around the world later in the year. And of course, there is already talk of sequels, which is very welcome if its tone remains the same. M3GAN is entertaining as hell and one great film.
Now it's time for the Unrated Edition Ted Talk. This Unrated version of M3GAN is not the ultimate 30-minute longer cut of the film, as Midsommar gifted us. This is about 90 seconds or so longer of more blood, guts, and foul language. The hilarious Ronny Chieng delivers several four-letter f-words and the titular robotic maniac utters one that enhances her tenacious ferocity. The death scenes are the same, but most add a few seconds of gore with some extended nastiness, such as the ear-pull, the power-washer face melter, and more. The theatrical cut is wonderful but these added few seconds of depravity and language really drive home the high entertainment value of the fun horror this movie really is about. Before, the film would cut away too soon, but here, it allows for all the red drippings to be viewed, even if it's short-lived.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
M3GAN dances its way to Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Code via Universal. The two discs are housed inside a hard, blue plastic case with a cardboard sleeve. The artwork consists of M3GAN herself looking longingly into the great wide open. There is an insert for the digital code inside.
M3GAN comes with a wonderful-looking 1080p HD transfer that emphasizes those cooler steely blue locations.
The color palette in M3GAN isn't particularly bright and vibrant all the way through. Like its tone and themes, it's rather dour and haunting. The wooded landscape gives off an eerie gray mist with green trees and gray skies through several scenes in the film. The house interiors do have earthier tones of browns, whites, and even oranges, but it all has a wilted aesthetic. Some interior scenes, such as inside the office building and laboratory give way to some bright reds and pink colors. Other than that, it's a colder-looking film that fits with its personality. The detail is sharp and vivid, giving way to great closeups that reveal individual hairs, practical puppetry effects and textures, gory wounds, facial stubble, wrinkles, and facial lines. Wider shots also look fantastic, especially the scene within the park with the kids. Black levels are inky and rich with no signs of crush and the skin tones are a tiny bit cooler, but still, look wonderful. There are no major instances of banding or aliasing here.
This release comes with a DTS-HD MA 7.1 audio track that sounds terrific. The perfect horror movie tropes are all in play with ghastly noises from other rooms, door creaks, footsteps, and more. The robotic movements of the puppet's head and limb motions are spot on and come around fully in all speakers. Slicing and punches, and stabs make those gooey noises as well. Ambient sounds covered the surround speakers with smooth transitions, whether inside the office or a park area. The low end of the bass kicks in with the higher action scenes and when the music comes into play. This never sounds rocky or overly loud. The climactic sequence really turns the bass up a notch. Dialogue is clean, clear and easy to follow along, and free of any issues.
There are only 16 minutes of extras here, but most of it is worthwhile. There should be more.
- Unrated Cut - There is only a couple of minutes of longer scenes, none of which adds to the chaos or brutality really of the film. This is not the best gory cut of the movie.
- A New Vision of Horror (HD, 6 Mins.) - James Wan and the cast and crew talk about making the film, the story's origins, the characters, and more.
- Bringing Life to M3GAN (HD, 6 Mins.) - This is the best extra which shows how the visual effects and puppet department brought the robot to life with reactions on set.
- Getting Hacked (HD, 4 Mins.) - The death scenes, big story arcs, and the dance sequence are all covered, along with the real actress who played M3GAN.
M3GAN is quite amazing. The film knows exactly what it is and executes horror and comedy perfectly. Let's all hope there are more sequels in this universe. Maybe a M3GAN vs Annabelle movie? The 1080p HD image looks wonderful and the DTS-HD 7.1 audio mix is fantastic. The amount of extras is small, but they are worth watching. There's no news on if there will be a 4K release yet or a bigger edition so this is the one everybody is stuck with for now. And it's Highly Recommended!
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