Film Review: M3GAN (dir by Gerald Johnstone)

Gemma (Allison Williams) is a roboticist who works for America’s most successful Seattle-based toy company, Funki.  Funki is the company behind the Purrpetual Pets, the really annoying Furby rip-offs that every child wants to have.  Gemma has developed a child-sized humanoid robot that she calls M3GAN.  She thinks that it could be the new big toy but her boss, David (Ronny Chieng), disagrees.  David says to stick with what works and develop a new Purrpetual Pet.

While Gemma is trying not to lose her job, she also has to deal with a new arrival in her home.  Following the tragic deaths of her parents and the destruction of her Purrpetual Pet, Gemma’s eight year-old niece moves in with her.  From the minute that Cady (Violet McGraw) shows up, things are awkward.  Gemma is more comfortable dealing with technology than with other humans.  When Cady attempts to play with a toy on Gemma’s bookshelf, Gemma quickly explains that it’s not a toy.  “It’s a collectible.”  In fact, it’s not until Gemma introduces Cady to M3GAN (played by Amie Donald with Jenna Davis providing her voice) that Cady finally starts to become comfortable in her new home.  M3GAN is the friend, older sister, and maternal figure that Cady is desperately looking for.  And even though Gemma knows that M3GAN is still being developed and could possibly malfunction, Gemma is kind of happy that Cady finally has someone other than Gemma to look after her.

And, of course, M3Gan is happy too.  M3GAN proves to not only be a quick learner but she also takes her duty to look after Cady very seriously.  When the neighbor’s dog bites Cady, the dog vanishes shortly afterward.  When the neighbor suggests that either Cady or Gemma had something to do with the dog’s disappearance, the neighbor ends up getting attacked in her garage.  When a bully tries to push Cady around before then attacking M3GAN, M3GAN reacts by ripping off his ear.  It may seem like it’s good to have M3GAN on your side but what about when M3GAN decides that Gemma isn’t doing a good enough job raising Cady?  What about when M3GAN herself starts to suspect that Cady needs to be disciplined?

M3GAN came out in January and it was, to the surprise of many, the first big critical and commercial success of 2023.  Some of that, of course, is because there really wasn’t much competition back in January.  Audiences that didn’t want to rewatch the Avatar or Black Panther sequels really didn’t have many other options other than M3GAN and Plane.

That said, M3GAN is an undeniably effective mix of satire and horror.  It works precisely because it captures what we all secretly fear, that AI is eventually going to kill us.  M3GAN may look adorable and she gets to show off some pretty good dance moves towards the end of the film but she’ll kill anyone who gets on her nerves and, as both Gemma and Cady find out, it’s pretty much impossible to turn her off.  It’s not just that M3GAN replaces Gemma as Cady’s primary caregiver.  It’s that the viewer knows that it’s totally possible that there’s an army of M3GANs out there, waiting to replace all of us.  At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if, in the future, at least 50% of the reviewers over on Rotten Tomatoes will actually be advanced AIs, programmed to overpraise studio productions while only giving negative reviews to films that don’t necessarily need good reviews to sell tickets.

M3GAN works as both a satire and a horror flick.  The movie opens with a macabre  Purrpetual Pet commercial that’s cringey specifically because it feels so accurate.  As brought to life by Amie Donald and Jenna Davis, M3GAN is a wonderfully creepy character who is occasionally made sympathetic by the fact that, much like HAL in 2001 and the robots in Creation of the Humanoids, M3GAN seems to have more genuine feelings than the humans around her.  Indeed, with the exception of Violet McGraw’s Cady, there are no sympathetic human characters.  Gemma, for instance, is a very familiar type, someone who knows how to write code but who has no idea how to relate to anyone on an actual emotional level.  In many ways, her relationship with Cady is just as a manipulative and destructive as M3GAN’s.

M3GAN is a strong movie up until the final 20 minutes, when M3GAN suddenly starts to target people who she really doesn’t have any reason to go after.  But, overall, it’s an effective look at the future that we may have waiting for us.

We’ve more than a small wonder in the M3gan trailer.

It looks like Malignant writers James Wan and Akela Cooper have reunited to give us M3gan, the story of a robot that may be more than she appears. When a young girl (Violet McGraw, Doctor Sleep) loses her parents, she moves in with her aunt Gemma (Allison Williams, Get Out), who introduces her to M3gan, her latest project. When Gemma assigns M3gan to protect her niece, it looks like things are going to escalate a bit.

Gerard Johnstone (The New Legends of Monkey) is handling the direction for M3gan. Wan is producing with Jason Blum (Blumhouse Productions), and Allison Williams is an Executive Producer.

M3gan is due to hit theatres this coming January.

The Perfection, Review By Case Wright


Let me begin by writing that I love watching Netflix and I REALLY love livetweeting with Lisa and the rest of the Shattered Lens staff. We can coordinate times well and it’s easy to sync up.  This time, I was given the movie choosing authority and perhaps it will be my last.  I heard that The Perfection was a bit gory, but I figured come on, this is Shattered Lens- we Rocktober the October over here with our Horrorthon!  When I saw that Steven Weber was in it, I felt like ok, this is going to be like a Tales From the Crypt experience.  Well……….not so much.

The Perfection has trashy components to it and some cheaply built sets and the director REALLY wants you to know that they splurged and actually filmed in China! The best way to describe The Perfection is as an unaware, pretentious, and boring episode of Tales From the Crypt.  It had the victim goes to victimizer TFTC theme and the over the top gore, but it was always trying to be serious and important when it was just an overly long TFTC episode without any humor.

The plot is pretty straight-forward: Charlotte is a prodigy Cellist who left her art to care for her dying mother for ten-years.  When she tries to return to her life, she finds that a younger classmate Lizzy has attained the Cello fame that she sought.  She sees her old Mentor Anton (Steven Weber) and Charlotte is now the clear has-been.  Charlotte executes a plan to destroy Lizzy forever.  Charlotte meets Lizzy, seduces Lizzy, drugs Lizzy, and convinces Lizzy to chop her hand off.  Yep, another Hollywood girl meets girl, girl drugs girl, girl gets girl to chop her hand off story.  The Perfection was actually the original script for Love Actually.  The “To Me You Are Perfect” scene was just going to be Andrew Lincoln throwing severed hands at people – “To Me you are a perfect…Target” *throws hand at Juliet*.

Just when you think this movie will be a fun version of Black Swan it takes a turn for the dumb, gross.  Yes, I get that this was made by a post-Weinstein Miramax and it was showing how fame could encourage and condone horrible behavior, but it was done with so much exposition that it really caused the film to jerk from long explanations to gore and long explanations to gore and long explanations to trying a Subway Cold Cut Combo – even terrible movies get hungry.

I’m not sure if I should spoil this piece of trash or not.  It’s really not worth your time. Instead of watching this film you could eat a sandwich, do your taxes, plot revenge. However, it is nice to see that Steven Weber is still working – there’s that.


Belatedly, Here Are The Nominations of the North Texas Film Critics!

Two days ago, the North Texas Film Critics Association announced their nominations for the best of 2017!

On twitter, there’s been a lot of speculation as to why the NTFCA totally snubbed Call Me By Your Name in their nominations.  Hilariously, some people — all from out-of-state, of course — are assuming that the NTFCA must be made up of evangelical, right-wingers because it’s a Texas organization.  Seriously, those people have no idea how left-wing most members of the Texas media are.  Texas may be a Republican state but most of our native film critics are somewhere to the left of Bernie Sanders.

Anyway, here are the nominees:

“Baby Driver”
“The Big Sick”
“Get Out”
“The Florida Project”
“Lady Bird”
“The Post”
“The Shape of Water”
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

James Franco, “The Disaster Artist”
Jake Gyllenhaal, “Stronger”
Tom Hanks, “The Post”
Hugh Jackman, “Logan”
Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out”
James McAvoy, “Split”
Kumail Nanijiani, “The Big Sick”
Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”
Robert Pattinson, “Good Time”
Jeremy Renner, “Wind River”
Andy Serkis, “War for the Planet of the Apes”

Jessica Chastain, “Molly’s Game”
Judi Dench, “Victoria & Abdul”
Gal Gadot, “Wonder Woman”
Jennifer Lawrence, “mother!”
Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Brooklynn Prince, “The Florida Project”
Margot Robbie, “I, Tonya”
Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”
Emma Stone, “Battle of the Sexes”
Meryl Streep, “The Post”

Mary J. Blige, “Mudbound”
Holly Hunter, “The Big Sick”
Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”
Nicole Kidman, “The Killing of a Sacred Deer”
Tatiana Maslany, “Stronger”
Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”
Octavia Spencer, “The Shape of Water”
Tilda Swinton, “Okja”
Kristin Scott Thomas, “Darkest Hour”
Bria Vinaite, “The Florida Project”
Allison Williams, “Get Out”

Steve Carell, “Battle of the Sexes”
Daniel Craig, “Logan Lucky”
Bryan Cranston, “Last Flag Flying”
Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project”
Idris Elba, “Molly’s Game”
Will Poulter, “Detroit”
Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Ray Romano, “The Big Sick”
Mark Rylance, “Dunkirk”
Patrick Stewart, “Logan”

Sean Baker, “The Florida Project”
Guillermo del Toro, “The Shape of Water”
Greta Gerwig, “Lady Bird”
Patty Jenkins, “Wonder Woman”
Christopher Nolan, “Dunkirk”
Jordan Peele, “Get Out”
Steven Spielberg, “The Post”
Aaron Sorkin, “Molly’s Game”
Denis Villeneuve, “Blade Runner 2049”
Joe Wright, “Darkest Hour”

Thimios Bakatakis, “The Killing of a Sacred Deer”
Roger Deakins, “Blade Runner 2049”
Hoyte Van Hoytema, “Dunkirk”
Matthew Jensen, “Wonder Woman”
Dan Laustsen, “The Shape of Water”
Janusz Kaminski, “The Post”
Michael Seresin, “War for the Planet of the Apes”

“First They Killed My Father”
“In the Fade”
“The Square”

“Abacus: Small Enough to Jail”
“Chasing Coral”
“City of Ghosts”
“Cries from Syria”
“An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power”

“The Breadwinner”
“Cars 3”
“Despicable Me 3:
“The LEGO Batman Movie”
“Loving Vincent”