M3GAN (2022)

M3gan poster


When I was a child I had a toy bear that when you pulled the string on its back said “I will protect you and keep you safe from harm”. Looking back the tone and timbre of his voice would not be out of place in any of these mechanical horror films of today.
He didn’t have a name, maybe Brown Bear and he didn’t walk or talk but in 2023 we now have M3gan. She can walk, talk and actually protect………by any means.
The timing of this film couldn’t be more apt coming in the shadow of OpenAI’s bursting forth onto the mainstream stage at the end of 2022 into 2023.

It’s a tale as old as tech or as the ChatGPT version of Public Enemy might call it Fear of a Tech Planet. New technology, change, fear, embracing and relying on new technologies and worst case scenarios are rife for dramatisation and what better way to update the Chucky/Annabelle crossed with Ex Machina than for Blumhouse to bring us M3gan (Model 3 Generative Android), the latest in toy manufacturing.

Model 3 Generative ANdroid


When Gemma’s (Allison Williams) sister and brother in law are killed in a freak traffic accident she is left as guardian to their only child, Cady (Violet McGraw) . Gemma works at Funki, a toy company, and is developing a lifesize doll that has artificial intelligence and is designed to look after the child it is assigned to/paired with and provides companionship to said child. M3gan is paired with Cady in its beta state as it is still being worked on and in development, one of its remits is to protect Cady and being equipped to self-improve and adapt to new situations, M3gan starts to act independently. Anything or anyone who appears to be a threat to Cady, M3Gan deals with, the neighbours dog for starters.

M3gan and friends


There is an uncanny valley effect here, the facial design of M3gan seems to be a combination of CGI and makeup and as such looks very creepy, unsettling and unreal. The actress playing M3gan (Amie Donald) does a great physical job as does the voice artist (Jenna Davis).

M3gan


One of the things that make great horror films is the amount of investment in the telling the story as truthfully as possible that the actors can and Allison Williams and Violet McGraw commit fully. Their relationship feels grounded in reality as they face the challenges of their situation.

M3gan dancing


This is a fun ride that is not as high brow as Alex Garland’s brilliant Ex Machina nor as B movie as Tom Holland’s (not Spidey) Child’s Play so it sits somewhere in the entertainment middle and is a welcome addition to the ‘horror’ genre. New Zealander Gerard Johnstone directs this film to box office success and he is currently in talks to direct the sequel M3gan 2.0. If you wanna know how successful the film has been check out the M3gan sketch from Saturday Night Live starring Aubrey Plaza and the viral TikTok dances. M3gan has arrived.

Blumhouse released one of my favourite horrors last year with The Black Phone and the first ‘horror film’ I have seen in 2023 is also one of theirs, may they all be as fun as this one.

See it….if you dare.

“I’ll protect you and keep you safe from harm.”

JURASSIC WORLD (2015)

jurassic_world_poster_by_stevencormann-d7235ty

Twenty two years after the events of Jurassic Park a new theme park is open on Isla Nublar, the site of the original park and everything is going well until a new, genetically modified creature escapes and causes havoc in extremis.

As ridiculous as the premise is, as well as some of the scenarios, this reminded me of my favourite work of graffiti in London (unfortunately it has since been painted over), it was on a wall as you were pulling into Paddington Station and it was an ape with a crown on it’s head and it said next to him “Only the Ridiculous Survive”. Well, at a budget of $150 million it seems to have made over $650 million so far. I guess the ridiculous don’t just survive, they thrive. There are plenty of tongue in cheek moments that poke fun at and self-efface itself (step up, Indominus Rex).

Jurassic World is open and very successful but this isn’t going to last long when dealing with previously extinct creatures, after all what fun would be a theme-park film where everything goes swimmingly. Unpredictable and dangerous, it’s not long before chaos ensues.

I didn’t expect to enjoy this, I really wanted to but heard from friends that it wasn’t cutting it. Having heard from a close friend (whaddup Charlie?) that it was worth a look, I dove in with slight apprehension, suffice to say, I had a top time. I watched Jurassic Park before it and the double bill was a very fun ride indeed.

The cast are a lot of fun; everyone seems to be enjoying themselves and it translates onto screen. Chris Pratt, coming off the back of playing Starlord in Guardians of the Galaxy, cements himself as a goto leading man, reminding me of Harrison Ford’s double hitter of Han Solo and Indiana Jones.

Vincent D’Onofrio gives great baddie, always an actor worth watching. Omar Sy, so brilliant in L’Intouchables is grounded and sturdy, Irrfan Khan, one of my favourite actors, is smooth and confident as the owner of the new park. Bryce Dallas Howard is believable as the manager of this world (although there is a little too much Fay Wray in the way she is directed for my liking) and the always reliable Judy Greer plays Howard’s sister and parent to the two boys, Gray and Zach (Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson having to deliver some hokey dialogue about brotherhood that misses the mark). The very funny Jake Johnson plays one of the park’s technicians and is given some very clever dialogue nodding to the original film and Lauren Lapkus (Orange is the New Black) is his work colleague.

The respect that the original film gets through the dialogue is really well balanced. The first line in the film comes from Judy Greer:

“Boys, let’s do this”

This seems to be a little nod to the audience letting them know to get ready. Colin Trevorrow directs this huge film with confidence, it can’t be easy making a film like this, there are so many elements to it and he delivers in spades, he is lined up to direct Star Was IX, which should be fun. Special mention goes to Michael Giacchino on soundtrack duties, beautifully using the main theme from the original.

A lot more enjoyable than I thought it would be. If you’re interested in a popcorn ride from Hollywood, where you’re in reasonably good hands, check it out.

3.5/5

BUY THE BLU RAY DVD HERE

DOWNLOAD THE FILM ON iTUNES HERE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFinNxS5KN4