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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The advertisements MORGAN ended with the question "What is Morgan"?
After seeing this film, my answer is "I don't care"!
MORGAN is the story of what happens when man tries to create artificial life. Much like the superior EX MACHINA, it grapples with issues of whether Morgan is a person, or a thing and should man do this. Unfortunately, it grapples with these issues much like I grapple with getting the top off a jar of pickles - clumsily.
Director Luke Scott (son of Ridley) assembles a strong cast that is, quite frankly, wasted. Kate Mara stars as "Corporate Risk Management Consultant" Lee Weathers who has come to assess the Morgan "project" at a remote research facility (are there any other kind?) - is mysterious and quiet, too much so in fact. I was immediately aware of the telegraphing of "something's up with her" from the get go. Mara (and/or the director) could have benefited from being more subtle with her character.
The usually reliable Toby Jones plays one note as the lead Scientist on the project and the great Michelle Yeoh continues her screen comeback in mediocre films (see my review of MECHANIC RESURRECTION) as another scientist who is there to, I think, mumble the line "We're not going to repeat the mistakes of Helsinki" over and over again. Only Rose Leslie's behavioral psychologist gets to play some range, but her character, who is supposed to be an expert in her field, does some really dumb things.
Add to that 2 actors who, I am assuming, got paid VERY WELL for being in this film. Jennifer Jason Leigh follows up her Oscar- nominated turn in THE HATEFUL EIGHT with this role that she - quite literally - sleeps through for most of the film. Perhaps, she had a juicy scene left on the cutting room floor or perhaps she owed Luke's dad a favor, but this was a NOTHING role that, quite frankly, she brought nothing to.
And then there is our old pal, Paul Giamatti. Mr. Giamatti can be a very fine, nuanced actor. He can also chew the scenery with the best of them - and chew scenery he does. He is in only one scene in this film (though the previews make him look like a major player) and I think director Scott kept saying to him "Bigger...BIGGER!" and bigger he went. To be honest, I was getting a little bored of this movie before Giamatti showed up, so, at least, he pumped some life and energy in this film.
Finally, there is the performance of Anya Taylor-Joy as Morgan. Taylor-Joy is being hailed as an "up and coming" actress for her performances in last springs THE VVITCH and this film. I saw them both and if your definition of "up and coming actress" is playing blank stares and not saying much, then she's your gal. I gotta see more from her before I declare her "the next big thing".
Truly disappointed in this one. If you want to see a film grappling with the issues of man creating Artificial Life, then see EX MACHINA, if you want to see a brand new filmmaker taking a swing and a miss and wasting some good talent, see MORGAN.
5 (out of 10) stars and you can take that to the Bank (of Marquis)
Having seen the trailer, I had high hopes for Morgan. The ideas looked
interesting, and the movie starts off pretty strongly. There's an eerie
ambiance, and a peculiar mystery being set up without the usual amount
of exposition, which is a bonus!
The main trouble for me was the lack of experience behind the camera. As director Scott's and writer Owen's first proper feature film, there was never quite the unique spark of originality that a movie like this needs. Being a mystery, it's laden with twists, most of which you can see coming ages before they do (especially the big one). But because you're never surprised by what happens, there's very little tension built up because you can predict the direction of the film.
Though the gist of the story is intriguing, it hinges on the characters - which didn't really work. The acting is mostly decent - Mara is pretty weird right from the start - you know there's something hidden about her. Taylor-Joy also does a fairly good job following her fantastic performance in The Witch, but her character (despite being the most interesting one) is fairly undeveloped and surprisingly shallow. Jones is brilliant, his character deserved a much bigger role, but the turning point in the film comes from Giamatti. His scene where he interviews Morgan feels so unnatural, unrealistic and unmotivated - aggression coming from nowhere, with predictable consequences that set the tone for the remainder of the movie.
So basically, it feels like a dumber version of Ex Machina. Human- like creature/experiment is kept in a cell while clever people work out whether it can cope in the real world. Except the difference is, Ex Machina has depth, subtlety and intelligence. Morgan offers some pretty good action, but its logic lets it down. Just too predictable and nonsensical to be enjoyable or engaging.
Before anyone reads this, I am glad to read that some movie goers found
the movie great. However, this is just my personal take when I saw this
Without going into too much detail about what this film entails, I felt as though there were a few moments in the film which could have been better.
1/ The ending was slightly disappointing... and for those who do not understand why then I am sure it will become clear in the end. I just expected more.
2/ I felt as though more connection was needed between Morgan and the audience. I found the clips of her as a child sweet and warming. I even felt sympathy towards her after she had attacked her first and second victims. However, in the end I felt as though I lacked sympathy for her character, after she became more and more out of hand. This also ties into the first point to do with the ending. I was expecting to be moved, riveted. But instead I felt a mixture of "Really... after all that, that's how it ended?", along with a sense of the lack of what I felt was emotion.
3/ I wanted to understand more about why and how the members of staff loved her so much. OK, she was special - but why did they love her the way they did, even after it became clear that she was starting to become dangerous? Why didn't one of them even question themselves over how out of hand things were getting?
Just a couple of points. Apart from that, the film was good enough to hold the majority of my attention throughout and definitely had the potential to be very, very good indeed. Credit where it is due, the film's intentions did seem surprisingly in the right place, but certainly more spark... more depth was needed.
One sub genre of science fiction we don't see enough of is the mad
scientist-story. This is where people attempt to play God and bring
something into the world that nature had never intended to. While
sometimes the experiments are done with dark intentions, many of the
stories feature such scientists as naïve and only trying to improve
life. The ones with the beakers and electricity often get lost within
their goal and loose their morals in favor of success. The prime
example of this has to be Frankenstein. Mary Shelly's novel of a man
trying to give life to a body has captivated and spooked people for
decades. So where are the rest of these mad scientist stories?
The majority of them have been found in film format with other examples including The Fly, Re- Animator, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and the one that pushed it the furthest, The Human Centipede. Today's film seems to be a combination of two movies, Ex Machina and Splice. This movie also happens to be directed by Luke Scott, son of the acclaimed Ridley Scott. Now if his father can change science fiction with Alien, can the son do so again with Morgan?
Lee Weathers (played by Kate Mara) is a risk assessment specialist who is sent to Northern Ireland to examine a company's top-secret project about a child that has been created by artificial DNA inserted into a test tube egg. It may be only five years old, but Morgan (played by Anya Taylor-Joy) is already a young woman who is intelligent and seems human enough that her behavior specialist treats her as such. Morgan recently has a tantrum that caused her to lash out a one of the scientists. As such, she lost her privilege to go outside and is the reason why Lee is there; to determine if she is worth keeping alive.
Lee immediately senses that Morgan might be too dangerous and unpredictable to keep going with. Despite the pleas of other scientists that see Morgan as a daughter, Lee only sees her as an inferior company product that needs to be stopped. Things reach a breaking point when a psychologist (played by Paul Giamatti) pushes her feelings enough to murder him and to try and make an escape. It becomes a cat and mouse chase when Lee follows Morgan into the woods to eliminate her.
You can tell that Luke Scott had a lot of influence from his father as there are a lot of elements of Alien towards the end. I'll say that Morgan is a nice looking movie, but not only is it telling stories we've seen before, but creates more problems. Ex Machina is one of the best artificial intelligent movies I've seen in a while, but this is similar, but without the intelligent ideas nor the script to pull it off. I'll say that the transition from a scientist movie to a horror movie has to be one of the sloppiest transitions I've seen in a while.
While a lot of critics seemed to have enjoyed the performance of Kate Mara, I found it surprisingly stilted and plain. While the movie explains it in the story's twist (you can figure it out very early on), it came off as emotionless, as if the actress put herself on autopilot. An insurance seminar would have been more interesting then Kate Mara's performance. The movie happens to be pretty short, barley making in at an hour and a half. I'll bet that several pages of the script were torn out in favor of speeding up the action.
I'll give this three bits of artificial DNA out of ten. Morgan simply doesn't offer anything new, nor tells it's own story in an entertaining way. If you want a good movie about tampering with human genetics, just watch Splice. Morgan is one word movie title I doubt I'll remember come next year. Stop this experiment.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As I watched 'Morgan' something became fairly obvious to me. This movie
wanted to be 'Ex Machina' really bad. It's set in a remote location
with a small cast. All of which are attempting to study a new form of
human. Unlike 'Ex Machina' this film doesn't have any social or
political commentary. Instead, this film has a twist ending that anyone
could see coming from a mile away. Mainly, the film is about a young
girl named Morgan that is a kind of superhuman. She has muddled powers
and ages far more rapidly than any other human being. But, after an
accident, a corporate consultant comes in to determine if the project
The plot picks up as Kate Mara, the consultant, comes into the compound. She meets the workers and learns more about the situation. The one thing that worked really well for me was Kate Mara. Her performance was spot on for the character that she played. She may not have been the most involving protagonist, but what was odd is that she was meant to be that way.
She was meant to play this odd, stone cold person and she did a great job. Other than her there were only one or two other good performances. Boyd Holbrook was the only other actor in the film that was great. Unfortunately, his character, Skip, doesn't get the screen that he deserved. Yet, he made the most of the time that he got.
The only other thing that I can say impressed me was the camera work. Most of the interior shots were more or less close ups and that got a bit tiresome but everything else looked fantastic. The outdoor shots, the flashbacks, almost everything looked excellent. It was shot and colored to help you get more into the scene. And, even better, the camera was used a few times to give neat foreshadowing.
Which was subtly used to help allude to things to come. All of that worked very well. Where this film falls apart is basically everywhere else. The story especially suffers. This mainly stems from the lack of compelling main characters. The film tries very hard to create sympathy for both the humans and the super girl. But it doesn't let you learn much about them or them motivations.
Instead, they act completely irrationally for the entirety of the film. Like, this super girl stabbed a ladies eye out and murdered another guy and the scientists still try to protect her. I mean, the lady that lost her eye was one of them. Do they all seriously think that she won't kill them too? It's this irrational behavior that stops the film from being anything remotely interesting.
You are constantly pounding your face against the wall. It also doesn't help that this type of story has been done thousands of times over. An alien of some kind is grown in a lab and it escapes and wreaks havoc. There's nothing new about his story and the film doesn't really do much to subvert that same story. Aside from it's "twist" there isn't anything new.
Putting aside the dull, exposition-heavy story line, the most obnoxious thing about this film is the music. It's sometimes this strange electronic pop, techno sounding garbage and other times it's the old cut and paste stuff you hear in every movie. You get the "scary" violin stuff and the loud action music but these are both overshadowed by the sympathy music that plays almost every time Morgan is on screen. Instead of giving her a relatable persona, they just play this cheesy dumb song over the top.
Outside of the excellent cinematography and solid performances, this film is nothing new. Its soundtrack is obnoxious, the characters two dimensional, and the story is the same thing you see with every film like this. It's a lazy excuse for a movie. If you've seen anything that remotely sounds like this then you've already seen this movie. So, instead of seeing this, just go watch that other thing you saw.
The film MORGAN is one that you'd file under decent attempt. Directed
by Ridley's son, Luke Scott, you wonder if the apple doesn't fall far
from the tree or the talent gets passed down trough genes, well, don't
expect MORGAN to be on the same level as Ridley's "Alien," that's for
sure, but again, a decent attempt is what it is, the closest to a
compliment I can give the film at this point.
Kate Mara plays a corporate risk management officer, a troubleshooter, and she's sent to a top secret location to investigate and evaluate a recent accident, she's supposed to be there to find out what went wrong and judge the asset in terms of the overall profit. At this top secret location, scientists have successfully created what is perceived to be the perfect human (Anya Taylor-Joy) but turns out, she comes with her own set of unpredictable threats.
What I can appreciate about MORGAN is that it takes familiar concepts from the world of science fiction and makes it its own. Creating life out of nothing or creating a life that's flawless has always been a fascination for ages. The film has its own way of addressing that. It's not perfect but the build up, the intensity, and the way things escalate as soon as situations go sideways, they're all well-paced and shot quite nicely. Definitely the one that stands out the most is young actress Anya Taylor-Joy, she already impressed me in "The Witch" earlier this year, and so her cold, calculating, fearsome performance in MORGAN only solidifies her reputation as the latest incredible force to be reckoned with. Better watch out for that one, she's going to go places. With its ensemble cast and its emphasis on keeping you guessing till the very end while wowing you with fight sequences and a big reveal, MORGAN is just the right dose of horror/sci-fi/thriller for us fans of such films as 1997's "Cube" or "Event Horizon" -- Rama's Screen --
After reading many of the reviews (good and bad), I have decided that
until IMDb offers the service to select favourite reviewers, that this
will be the last review I write. I do this because there are reviewers
who wouldn't know a phone was up their rear end, even if it rang. But I
retire mainly because there are reviewers who just don't have my tastes
in movies, and there are those that do. I only want to read the reviews
of those that like most of the films I like. Then if the majority of
them say a movie is OK, it is likely I will agree. And vica versa.
Therefore I am wasting my time writing reviews for people who don't
have my tastes in movies.
This is a very good film - period. By all and any measures. The direction is exactly what needed to be done for this movie - the acting is very good - and the sound is also right. This is not a movie for a star to grace the stage with their brilliance (or several) - it is a solid example of the craft of 'old school' suspense/action movies.
It is clear from watching this movie after reading many reviews, that this is far too 'intelligent' a movie for many reviewers. There is a level of understanding that requires the viewer to think. I guess too many Marvel action movies have dumbed them down, and made them demand clear and concise sequencing and plot development.
Over and out - until I can read the reviews of my favourite reviewers.
Morgan is about a risk management consultant having to decide whether
or not the current artificial intelligence project should continue or
be terminated. Lee Weathers shadows the scientists to see how they work
with Morgan and her responses in preparation for the real
psychic-evaluation the next day.
I felt the story to be compelling with some minor plot holes that I chose to ignore as the overall experience was worth it. I enjoyed all of the characters and their personal relationships with Morgan as they really presented the family vibe. The pacing was good as it had plenty of time to introduce the characters and make them relatable to the audience. The movie is set at a slower pace so don't expect a lot of action or real horror elements which were kind of advertised.
The movie features Anya Taylor-Joy as Morgan who really owns the role. I really believe the way she is going she will become a house hold name before too long. She reminds me of a younger Jennifer Lawrence but with better range as an actress. Kate Mara also shines as the lead character which is nice to see after the fail of a movie that was the Fantastic Four.
I would rate this a little higher if it were more original but sadly it is too much of a reminder of Blade Runner, and more recently Ex Machina. The latter two created an environment so unique to the sub genre while Morgan just feels like a rehash.
Morgan is still a good movie and worth a watch, but don't expect them to rewrite the book. Also it is a good movie to get everyone excited for Blade Runner sequel in 2017 if anything else.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
OK, there are very heavy spoilers in this, because to talk about the
film properly, that's what has to happen.
I was really excited for this movie because of both the premise sounding like there could be a load of cool concepts within it, and the cast. Ridley Scott's involvement did have me concerned - I unfortunately have only really had bad experiences with Ridley Scott bar The Martian - but I still saw it.
The majority of the first part of the film, where it takes its time to explore the facilities and who everyone is and what their role is in Morgan's wellbeing is nice, with there being many characters that the actors do so well in adapting. The overall design of the film is strong, with the Scott's showing a clear expertise in how to make a film look pretty and have high production quality in terms of sets and style.
This is where my positive outlook REALLY goes out the window, and from now on it's all rage. The film does away with a cool concept of the scientists being emotionally attached to this thing they've made, and then makes it into the film of smart people doing dumb things i.e. not increasing any security after the incident in which Morgan brutally stabbed out a anothers eye, allowing a deliberately provoking psychologist to go in unprepared and unprotected (spoilers, that character dies), immediately taking the restraints off her when the last thing she remembers was them agreeing to kill her and telling her she's worthless, or not teaching her anything that would be worthy to know for functioning in the real world (which is the 'explained' purpose of the program). Addition is the fact that certain characters are killed for almost no reason; I mentioned the lady who got her eye stabbed out played by a wasted Jennifer Jason Leigh...we never, EVER find out what provoked her to do this, or kill her as she does later, which is bad writing. Others I'm thinking, "yes that person deserved that"/"Wait, why that guy?"/"Why's this person killing this person?", which all builds up to a twist that is so bad that I saw it in the first 5 minutes but just didn't want to believe. I'll talk about it at the end.
This film is mess; a hot mess that wastes so much of its cast. The best things in the film are the Cinematography, the visual style and that Anya Taylor-Joy, Toby Jones and Rose Leslie were really trying to add so much more than had, and succeeded because they are majorly talented. However, if you are going to watch this, wait for it to be on TV.
OK, twist: The only performance I had a real issue with in the film was Kate Mara, as whilst she is a very quirky, fun actress, the part is completely standoff-ish and emotionless. She's less emotional than Morgan, and at this point I could see she wasn't a risk assessment analyst but likely another experiment. At the end of the film, they reveal that the L3 (lee) is superior to the M4, and she was "perfect" meaning she was indeed another experiment. The problem with this is that entire movie I was on the side of the scientists, and even Morgan, because of the personality they exhibited and that they weren't a blank slate, and also...they were in the right so often and things were made worse by the actions of the company. It also makes me ask a bunch of questions, such as:
- If the L3 was perfect, why bother making Morgan? What was the fault that needed correcting or whatever?
- If that was the sole purpose of the visit, why did so many other characters HAVE to die? Lee murders two people, including a cook that had no role to play in the main story; so much for "perfect".
- What purpose does Lee have to the company? Weapon? Extra help? Profit? If it's any of those, how and why?
- How does NO ONE pick up on any of the obvious hints of what's going on? She speaks fluent Chinese to the Chinese doctor on the project despite being there "not long", and knows so much info the doctors don't, has the ability to survive a long fight with Morgan and clumsily proclaims her job's to kill Morgan.
The whole film I didn't want Lee to win. I'm serious, I totally sided with the 'villain', and that flip at the end put a really sour taste in not just my mouth, the audience I saw it with. And...I end there.
Morgan starts with a simple premise of the moral and ethical
implications of genetically crafting a biological being from scratch.
Even if such a being looks and acts human, is it? Is the being a "she"
or an "it"and does the being have rights or autonomy, or can it be
owned like a pet, or an iPhone?
Based on nothing more than the trailers, the movie struck me as a sort of biological / genetic mirror of Ex Machina. That turns out to be true to an extent, but Morgan doesn't do as good a job of exploring the philosophical question or examining the humanity of the being. The question is sort of posed, and then quickly falls aside as Morgan turns into more of a blood and guts action flick.
There is a twist at the end that I actually didn't see coming. My son says it was obvious early on, but the first hint I got was only moments before the truth of the twist was revealed.
I enjoyed the movieand I recommend you go see it. I just feel like there was much more potential there to really dig into the philosophical issues and ethical debates of creating a genetic hybrid.
I had a chance to speak to director Luke Scott after seeing Morgan, and we dove into those issues a bit further. Scott told me that in his opinion the basic premise of Morgan is entirely plausible. "A lot of the background scienceof course it's a fantasy that we madebut a lot of the background science is rooted in truth."
We talked some about the similarities and differences between the premise of Ex Machina and the premise of Morgana cybernetic android being versus a genetic hybrid biological being. Scott shared his belief that the technical possibility of creating something as advanced as the android in Ex Machina is far beyond our abilities, but Morgan, and the ability to create a biological being, is within our reach.
"The science is there," explained Scott. "The only thing holding us back is a moral question."
It is a valid and important moral question, too. If a company like Monsanto can create genetically modified seeds to produce healthier or more bountiful crops and own a patent on that seed, would we allow a genetic engineering company to craft healthier or more capable gene pools and own a patent on those genes? Could we create a society where those with the financial resources are able to purchase superior geneticsthereby artificially widening the gap and creating a population of genetic "Haves" and "Have Nots"? Or, would we deem a genetically modified or engineered being to be less than humana thing or creature that can be owned, rather than a sentient being with rights?
Those are all great questions to explore, but Morgan really just scratches the surface of them.
I asked Luke Scott what's next on his horizon, and he let me know he's working on a project that also comes with a moral and ethical dilemma, but this one is based on a true story. Scott told me he is working on a script based on a book describing the story of the Donner Partya group of homesteading pioneers that got caught in bad weather and stranded on a glacier and had to resort to cannibalism to survive.
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