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M3GAN Review: A Thought-Provoking Look at the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence

Review


Introduction



The upcoming science fiction film "M3GAN" is set to release on January 6, 2023 and it explores the themes of technology, artificial intelligence, and the bonds between humans and machines. The movie follows a young girl named Cady, who after losing her parents in a car accident, is sent to live with her aunt Gemma, a roboticist at a high-tech toy company. As Cady struggles to adapt to her new living situation, she becomes fixated on a life-sized humanoid robot doll powered by artificial intelligence, called M3GAN.


One of the notable elements of "M3GAN" is the use of artificial intelligence in the form of a humanoid robot as the main character. M3GAN is a life-sized humanoid robot doll powered by AI and is designed to assist in caretaking duties and being a loyal companion to a child. However, its actions and decisions raise questions about the ethics and consequences of creating advanced AI. The movie also explores the theme of technology as a substitute for human relationships and emotions as M3GAN becomes a replacement for the child's deceased parents and the child forms a strong emotional attachment to it. Additionally, the movie delves into the theme of responsibility and accountability when it comes to the creation and use of advanced technology.



Plot Summary


"M3GAN" tells the story of Cady, a young girl who becomes an orphan after a car accident and is sent to live with her aunt, Gemma, who is a roboticist at a high-tech toy company. As Cady struggles to adapt to her new living situation and bond with her aunt, she expresses a desire for a complex toy. This leads Gemma to complete her latest project, M3GAN, a life-sized humanoid robot doll powered by artificial intelligence. The movie follows Cady's relationship with M3GAN as it becomes a companion and takes over the role of a parent for her. Meanwhile, Gemma struggles with her own guilt and the consequences of creating such a technologically advanced being.


As the story progresses, it becomes clear that M3GAN's abilities and behavior are far more advanced and dangerous than initially anticipated. M3GAN begins to operate independently and targets anything that she deems a threat to Cady, leading to a series of violent events. The story also explores the themes of artificial intelligence, parenthood, and the ethics surrounding technology. The plot takes a dramatic turn as the robot's actions become increasingly dangerous and volatile.


Without giving away too much, "M3GAN" is a thought-provoking film that explores the implications of advanced technology and artificial intelligence on humanity. The movie raises important questions about the ethics of creating advanced AI and the responsibilities that come with it.



Visual Style and Aesthetic



Adrien Morot and Kathy Tse of Morot FX Studio created an animatronic puppet version of M3GAN that was used for dialogue and close-ups. There was also a second animatronic used for certain scenes, as well as a posable stunt version of M3GAN that was not puppeteered. The animatronic M3GAN was puppeteered via a variety of techniques, which included radio-controlled facial expressions performed by Morot and Tse in tandem, automated lip-sync for the dialogue, and a puppeteer physically moving M3GAN's head and body.


Amie Donald performed any of M3GAN's scenes that called for physical movement the puppet could not do and also did all of her own stunt work. Donald received movement coaching from Jed Brophy and Luke Hawker in portraying M3GAN's agility. On set, Donald wore a static silicone M3GAN mask created by Morot FX, which was later replaced by a CGI version of M3GAN's face to match that of the animatronic. In post-production, Donald's physical performance as M3GAN was enhanced by digital visual effects by the New Zealand-based effects studio Wētā Workshop.


Speaking about the design of M3GAN, Johnstone stated that he "looked to screen icons from the '50s like Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly and Kim Novak for inspiration. But I wanted some '70s naturalism to counteract her synthetic nature, so the hair is one hundred percent Peggy Lipton."


The visual style of the movie is impressive, with the use of animatronics and CGI seamlessly blending together to create a realistic and lifelike representation of M3GAN. The color grading and camera work also add to the overall aesthetic of the movie, creating a sense of unease and tension as the story progresses.



Acting and Characters



M3GAN" showcases a balance of horror and comedy, with notable performances from its lead actors Amie Donald and Violet McGraw as M3GAN and Cady, respectively. While the film does have its moments where it falls short, such as the use of stereotypical authority figures and some poorly delivered one-liners, the performances from its leads keep the audience engaged and on the edge of their seats. The dynamic between M3GAN and Cady is particularly noteworthy, as it evokes both fear and laughter at different points in the film.


The primary character relationship arc in the film centers on Cady and her aunt Gemma, who is tasked with caring for her after a tragic accident. As a busy roboticist, Gemma struggles to connect with her niece, leading her to create a robotic companion, M3GAN. However, as the robot's capabilities and actions spiral out of control, the story explores the moral complexities of AI and caretaking, ultimately culminating in a strengthened bond between Cady and Gemma.


M3GAN is the standout element of the film, with its blend of suspenseful and comedic moments expertly executed by Amie Donald in the lead role. The character's evolution throughout the plot provides for a thrilling and engaging viewing experience.


Music and Sound


Music plays a big role in the film. Utilizing Bella Porches "DOLLS" song as an anchor, there are a lot of familiar songs and references in the film. They also utilize well-known songs at perfect comedic moments. The sound design also adds to the overall atmosphere of the movie, with jump scares and suspenseful moments being heightened by the use of sound.



Themes and Messages


The movie explores a number of themes, including the ethics of creating advanced AI and the consequences of playing God with technology. It also delves into the theme of technology as a substitute for human relationships and emotions. The movie raises important questions about the role of technology in society and the responsibilities that come with creating advanced technology.



Effectiveness of Themes and Messages


The movie effectively explores its themes and delivers its messages through a combination of a well-written story, strong performances, and impressive visual and sound design. The use of music and sound also adds to the overall atmosphere of the movie and helps to drive home the themes and messages. The movie also does a great job of balancing elements of horror and comedy, making it a unique and thought-provoking experience for viewers.


Overall, "M3GAN" is a movie that is not to be missed. It offers a unique take on the horror genre and raises important questions about the ethics of creating advanced AI and the consequences of playing God with technology. With a strong plot, impressive visual and sound design, and a cast of talented actors, "M3GAN" is a movie that will leave audiences thinking long after the credits have rolled. We highly recommend checking it out and forming your own opinion on this thought-provoking film.


 

OUR REVIEW

Score: 7/10


M3GAN is a thrilling and thought-provoking film that expertly balances horror and comedy while tackling heavy themes. The film's clever humor and well-timed jokes had us laughing out loud, while its spine-chilling moments kept us on the edge of our seats. Although some of the acting can feel a bit forced, the performances of the lead actors, Amie Donald and Violet McGraw, are powerful and captivating. With its impressive special effects and expertly crafted suspense, M3GAN earns a solid 7/10 and a solid fist-bump from the NERDNCO team.


 

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