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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, March 4, 2024

'M3GAN' is not your typical robot

Pictured is Allison Williams, star of "M3GAN" (2023)

“M3GAN” (2022) is one of the first movies to showcase a genuinely terrifying robotic product of humanity and somehow make her a girl's new best friend and favorite toy.

No matter your feelings on artificial intelligence, this film will leave you pondering the ethics of humanity’s reliance on advancing technologies. Moreover, the movie itself executes this notion in a very entertaining way. Paving the way for a dilemma of the efficacy and efficiency of the titular doll M3GAN’s design and awareness, robotic engineers neglect many warning signs of her danger.

M3GAN, or Model 3 Generative Android, is a creation from the mind of this generation’s Victor Frankenstein, Gemma (Allison Williams). She is the aunt of a young girl named Cady (Violet McGraw), who is left in Gemma's care after her parents are tragically killed in a traumatic car accident. 

Gemma, a workaholic with an urge to prove her capabilities to her boss and the world, created M3GAN to provide comfort and companionship for girls like Cady, who need a friend (regardless of that friend’s humanity). 

As the story progresses, we see many instances of M3GANdestroying the necessity for a parental figure in a child’s life and ultimately striving by any means necessary (including gruesome violence) to protect the child.

Williams did an excellent job depicting a character whose own loss of touch with humanity has been replicated in her work. M3GAN’s robotic episodes of sociopathy and hatred can be directly correlated to her hate for human greed and exploitation, shown through her interactions with other characters. 

Gemma is emotionally unfit to take on the care of Cady when she first arrives, and Williams displays the turmoil in attempting to hide that truth throughout the film.

Jenna Davis lent her voice to the character of M3GAN, who was brilliantly innocent, intelligent and deadly. However, her cynicism seemed to boil under her sometimes glitchy, mechanical speech.

Pairing fantastically with M3GAN's character dynamic, McGraw was superb in such a complex role for a young actress. McGraw embodied a traumatized young girl, desperate for love and attention in a time of isolation and despair.

Besides the acting, the film’s most vital feature is its tone it uses while examining the underlying darkness of technology. It teaches the audience an incredibly subtle message that eventually comes to rip at the seams, which seeks to showcase the danger of replacing humans with machines. The “love” and “attention” that characters like Cady seek from robots like M3GAN are not essentially accurate, and that realness is what makes those factors pure of bad intentions.

Many nods to the robotic, toy and artificial intelligence industries are continually mocked within the movie itself. While the film tips its hat to the creators of such products, it also points to the carelessness in releasing them.

In one scene, Gemma attempts to power on the film’s version of an Amazon Alexa but the home assistant remains silent. The reason? M3GAN has somehow hacked into the machine and taken down Gemma’s user power.

You may leave the theater a bit uncomfortable with your iPhone or Amazon Alexa. You may even denounce all upcoming technology at the risk of it becoming conscious and villainous. That's the sort of “horror” that this movie aims to bring to the table, which relies on its audience questioning the ethics and morality of their devices.

In the end, this movie was enjoyable. It brought elements of programs like “Black Mirror” (2011–2019) to the screen in a dystopian air. While some scenes are outright ridiculous (including M3GAN’sviral dancing scene), the movie’s tone follows an increasingly destructive story. “M3GAN” may not be a reality now, but in some ways, it is a warning for the future.

Summary M3GAN delivers a thrilling storyline in an equally eerie, entertaining, and subversive way. Particularly, M3GAN’s character makes for a perfect embodiment of an audience debate over the “good or bad” of her (not so human) nature. Plot twists, action scenes, and heartfelt moments combined are why M3GAN works so well.
4 Stars