The “problem” with machines for exercise isn’t that they don’t work, or that they aren’t functional-if they get you stronger they are both.
The problem with machines is that they taught/convinced many people/trainers that exercises need to be preformed precisely and along a fixed path-like on a machine.
Exercises need to do two things IMO: accomplish what you are trying to accomplish, and be safe while doing it. There is a huge amount of room for variability and individuality with those rules.
The main difference between free weights and machines is that free is just that-free to have variability. As soon as we lose variability in movement we’re screwed.
Losing variabilty in Movement effectively is what compensatory patterns are imo. For example: if when you squat your only movement option is that your knees collapse, it’s a problem. But if you can squat with knees forward,back,out, or in-then you have variabilty and it was your choice to squat that way. (Ps plz don’t aggressively load not purposefully aligned body parts).
there is maybe no such thing as perfect form-just safe, and effective. And that means different people do different things-don’t try to machinify people.