M3gan is the perfect pop cinema

For almost half a decade, Hollywood has been trying to achieve m3gan – the difference is, on the first try, his name was Chucky. the makeover of Killer toy was launched in 2019, with Mark Hammill voicing a new version of the puppet terrorizing movie screens (and more recently, from the TV) since the late 1980s. The novelty of this remake, at least when the studio sold it, was that Chucky was new Killer toy it would be a technological doll, full of amazing features, which would allow the franchise to address the fears and anxieties of parents and children of the internet generation.

It turns out the franchise chuck, as fiction, has never been very interested in this sort of thing. As created and led by Don Mancinithe saga of Killer toy historically it is much more about the excluded and oppressed individuals of society and their interactions with the hegemonic system – see the second season of the series, largely set in a convent. Subverting the expectations of suddenly speaking to the public about the children’s industrial complex and its perverse relationships with today’s “chronically online” generation didn’t work, because there was too much baggage there, in that name and that character.

The first stroke of genius m3gan is, therefore, to position itself as an original story – a New product, in the advertising language that the film itself uses and abuses. Taking advantage of the fact that horror is one of the last genres in which Hollywood still dares to finance films unrelated to the big franchises, the screenwriters Akela Cooper And James Wan (partnership established in the excellent Malicious) to put m3gan to the proverbial forefront of scary stories that try to encapsulate the trepidations and quandaries of their times, as they tend to do so well.

And look: m3gan You don’t have to be terribly original (which you aren’t) to make this point. In the age of remakes and reboots and spin-offs and shared universes, it just needs to look new, and this it does without much effort. In the plot, little Cady (Violet McGrawin which young Nell was The Hill House haunt) loses his parents in a car accident, ending up living with his aunt Gemma (Allison Williams), a hostile engineer who works for a multinational toy manufacturer.

Faced with the difficulties of becoming her niece’s guardian, Gemma does the only thing she knows how to do: create a new toy, the M3gan android doll, programmed to educate and protect Cady in all situations. The idea is to undermine the primal fears caused by both the idea of ​​toys coming to life and the concept of artificial intelligence turning against its creators. In the former field, M3gan’s silicone face often resembles Chucky’s, especially when she is distorted into expressions of perversity not naturally associated with ideas of play and childhood.

Director Gerard Johnstonewhose only previous characteristic was little-seen (but lauded) horror. forced into the house, knows how to dose these moments. Find valuable allies in the young actresses hired to play the doll (friend Donald was the double body, while Jenna Davis provided the voice of M3gan), using his sudden animalistic movements efficiently to disrupt the normality of the domestic and corporate environments in which the story takes place. Next to the cinematographer Peter McCaffreystill inserts welcome visual games (pay attention to specific moments in which the doll is “split” by the camera, leaving only parts of its body in view) in the middle of a more direct and less formalistic approach to production.

On the other hand, the “awakening” of M3gan as artificial intelligence is minor ex machine or Age of Ultron and more Black mirror, examining how the identities constructed in the extrapolations of pop culture into the structures of the Internet do not bear the weight of the complexity of real life – and for this too often generate violent reactions to it. Not that the doll is a figure for the incel And blackpiller of the world, but it is clear that the immature error he falls into in trying to “protect” Cady comes from his purely artificial, statistical, algorithmic experience of the world.

No wonder, the film stops no less than three times for M3gan to sing, in his robotic voice from the autotunesome pop hit that speaks of overcoming or optimism. m3ganthe film, would never underestimate the power that pop fiction has, its ability to mobilize our thoughts and emotions in a specific cultural context – but he says, in any case, that by shouting a declaration of resilience wrapped in melody (say , “Titanium“, from be) is not enough to overcome a personal tragedy. All while taking advantage of who your villain is literally in titanium to enhance the joke, of course.

This ability to play both sides of the board, incorporating nods to traditional horror and “memeable” moments, tackling the field traditional and modernizing it, satirizing the exploitation of the child as a consumer without losing sight of the fact that the target of the teasing must be the adult – this is what makes m3gan a simply perfect piece of pop cinema. Like any culturally defining horror film, it’s smart from a marketing standpoint (the hook for the sequel is obvious, and therefore there’s a strategic containment of what is shown in this first film) as much as it is smart from a narrative point of view. .

Time will be kind to m3gan, but we can also, as audiences and critics, choose to understand its brilliance at first sight. Sounds much fairer, doesn’t it?

Year: 2022

Village: USA/New Zealand

Duration: 102 mins

Direction: Gerard Johnstone

Film script: James Wan, Akela Cooper

Launch: Allison Williams, Ronny Chieng, Violet McGraw

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