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Friendship Has Evolved
A brilliant toy company roboticist uses artificial intelligence to develop M3GAN, a life-like doll programmed to emotionally bond with her newly orphaned niece. But when the doll’s programming works too well, she becomes overprotective of her new friend with terrifying results.
Let’s put all our cards on the table and admit something - the first major film of the year usually isn’t every good. Its almost as if we receive punishment for enjoying the Fall and Winter seasons’ deluge of awards-caliber films that start to clog up our “Best of the Year” lists by having to suck it up and start the year off with at worst one of the worst films of the year or at best with something mediocre and forgettable.
So you might forgive me if I thought that M3GAN would perhaps not be as fun as the trailers and memes were teasing they’d be given it was the first of the year. Well thankfully I can say that the first film of the year curse has been broken - at least in 2023.
Blumhouse’s latest imagines the same scenario we got with Chucky and the Child’s Play films but what if the doll was four feet tall and could download your personal information? M3GAN the doll is life-like but not in a way that you never still remember this is a robot. The special effect work on her is amazing, and the personality written into her from the script makes her perhaps a future horror icon in the making alongside that other infamous killer doll. And quite frankly she is more believable a threat than the chuckster.
The movie is campy and leans into it for plenty laughs. You could almost mistake this as a comedic satire at times, but it never feels overly silly either. The advanced screening audience I saw this with ate up every single second of this film, from the first scene which kicks off with a toy commercial to the last which hints at perhaps making this another Blumhouse horror franchise. I can see this being one of those movies that you just have to watch with a crowd.
But even with the camp and the satire it does remain a horror flick at the end of the day. There are kills, there are jump scares, and there are moments that will get a reaction out of you. I could actually see all of these horrific events perhaps happening to me or someone I know because the scenario in a day and age of evolving technology isn’t all that far fetch. And a certain subplot hit a tad close to home given some personal events in my life of late.
That’s not to say this is an A-tier film though. It does have some things that bother me a bit. The biggest one being the movie seemingly tries to make all the victims of the killer doll unlikable, and it feels incredibly forced in one particular story beat. Almost like we should all think they got theirs rather than be horrified at losing a character. The movie also takes its time to get going, about forty-five minutes, but the slow burn does pay off at the end in my opinion.
I can see this becoming a future horror classic. I can see this kicking off a new horror franchise. This could be a really big hit to kick the year off with. But for once I don’t have to make jokes about the first movie of the year being my favorite so far because this actually feels like a legit real favorite of the year placeholder that can perhaps last weeks or even months in that spot looking at the first quarter of the 2023 schedule. M3GAN kicks off the 2023 film season with a bang - and the bar has now been set super high for the rest of January’s films.