HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:80
You’d think by now that human beings would stop trying to build a better human. The notion of human’s hubris and delusion in thinking they can create life is something that has been explored in film for generations. There’s always been a variation of “It’s alive!” in Science fiction, but nothing is more egregious in trying to take “god” like powers into your own and create something from nothing. It just NEVER ends well. Both in reality and in fiction. We all know about Victor Frankenstein’s attempt at life giving and the consequences he reaped, but there has been countless other adaptations of that same philosophy. The errors of trying to create a “better” human inevitably turn against their finite masters. “Serenity”/”Firefly” and the reapers, “Ex Machina”, and the like ALL have one thing in common. The created turns against the imperfect creator that created it. Luke Scott makes his directorial debut with his father, Ridley Scott, acting as producer on the project, and the results are….well….rather generic.
Taking elements of “Hannah”, “Ex Machina”, and “The Bourne Identity”, Scott crafts a story about a group of scientists who are working for some mysterious “corporation” and trying to create an artificially created human with superhuman abilities. The film immediately starts upon tragedy. Morgan (Anya Taylor-Joy) turned on one of the scientists overseeing the experiment and created quite a hullabaloo. Corporate has sent in a risk/loss analyst named Lee Weathers (Kate Mara to evaluate the situation and decide whether Morgan needs to be terminated or if the project can go ahead. Lee is immediately met with hostility by the isolated group of scientists as she is seen as a corporate interloper who is there to destroy their lives work. Morgan is also seemingly innocent. She looks and acts human and her remorse for the attack on Dr. Kathy Grief (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is apparently heartfelt. The young humanoid has taken up a wonderful relationship with Dr. Amer Menser (Rose Leslie), and the two are nearly inseparable, but Lee is not so certain that things are kosher despite the lull in the storm.
Another “accident” in the facility (involving a psychologist played by Paul Giamatti in a fairly vivid sequence) turns the entire experiment upside down. With such violations in such a short amount of time, Lee Weather does the only thing she can do. Terminate Morgan before it’s too late. The only problem is, Morgan doesn’t want to let go of the life she has, and ever her friends will not be enough to stand in the young girl’s way.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=86498[/img]You can definitely tell that director Luke Scott has taken many queues from his father’s work. Elements of “Alien”, “Exodus: God’s and Kings” and a myriad other film making nods and wink make their way into this little sci-fi/horror/action movie. The problem is, is that we’ve seen it all before. ALL of this just feels like a retread over a dozen different movies with the same inevitable outcome. The first act of the movie creates a sort of psychological and emotional appeal, with Morgan appearing to be very human and Lee being the “inhuman” one with her cold analysis of the situation. However “Morgan” goes south in the latter half by turning itself into a predictable blood bath of mayhem and chaos with an end “twist” that can be seen coming from a mile and way and is OVER explained in the last scene (yeah I get it, we got it about 15 minutes back, you don’t have to go “see see!!! I told you so!).
I think that Luke Scott tried to borrow a few too any ideas from other movies without creating anything that actually works in its own right. I get that there are very few ORIGINAL ideas, but it feels like plot points are lifted directly from other works and just copy pasted into the film so the whole time you’re sitting there going “haven’t I seen this before”? However, despite the obvious McGuffins and recycled plots of countless other movies what DOES work in the movie is the actors. Head and shoulders above the rest is young Anya Taylor-Joy (the young star of last year’s truly creepy horror film “The VVitch”). Imbuing Morgan with a sense of childlike awe and wonder she does an amazing job at making her a relatable and emotionally compelling character. If you can get past the very obvious pale makeup and the intent to make her an “It”, the character is sweet and terrifying at the same time. The rest of the cast do the best they can, but the script doesn’t give them a whole lot to work with. Brian Cox and Paul Giamatti are both incredible actors, but are sadly relegated to single scene apiece, with Giamatti giving the best he can in that situation. The same goes for Mara. She’s a breath of fresh air in “House of Cards”, but in Morgan she’s so icy cold as the analytical corporate goon that there’s not a lot of fleshing out that can happen. The rest are given your stereotypical Dr. roles and just serve to push the story forward so Lee and Morgan can interact.
Rated R for brutal violence, and some language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=86506[/img]I can’t officially confirm or deny this, but “Morgan” is blatantly obvious in the fact that it is a digital presentation. Framed in 2.39:1 scope, the image is given a very strong teal color grading, with intense levels of blue and green showing through with some intermingled grey when the setting is Morgan’s underground bunker. Outside in the grassy forest, bright greens and earthy colors of the ground come into focus, along with slightly boosted white levels that occasionally bloom in flashbacks. Fine detailing is amazing, with every fiber on Morgan’s hoodie perfectly clear, and the texturing and pitting on the stone wall of her enclosure lifelike and almost 3D in nature. Black levels are inky and deep, with almost no banding to speak of. Simply put, “Morgan” has a near perfect digital image that is only marred by a few bouts of soft focus here and there. As with the Blu-ray, I can't confirm that it's a 4K DI or a 2K DI, but the end result is an amazing picture. the digital imagery and HDR makes for the teal coloring being even more potent and the black levels are so deep and inky that they look like they could absorb every bit of light around them without twitching. the textures and feel of the stone wall in Morgan's "room" show finer detail points and the the faces of the participants are lovingly created with every bit of peach fuzz on Kate Mara's face and individual hairs peaking out from Morgan's hoodie. It's a great looking 4K disc and worthy upgrade from the Blu-ray for certain.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=86514[/img]I was actually really surprised that “Morgan” didn’t have an Atmos mix on the 4K or the Blu-ray as it is listed as being mixed in Atmos on IMDB. I’m not sure whether that is an error or whether Fox decided to forgo that for the home theater release for some unknown reason. Until I get better Intel I will just grade the 7.1 DTS-HD MA track on its own merits. Creepy and very atmospheric, “Morgan’s” 7.1 experience is truly immersive. The film changes from being set inside of an echo chamber of a room underground when tends to be very front heavy, to coming fully alive in the forest and when the throbbing and intense score kicks in. Despite the front heavy nature of the quieter moments, “Morgan” is very nuanced, with sounds of chairs scraping in the background and the light hum of electronic analysis equipment pulsating all around the lab. Birds chirp in the forest and the sound of a high powered bolt action rifle echoes from all sides when used to draw out the crazed Morgan. LFE is tight and powerful, adding a lot of intensity to the already nail gripping score and the obvious action sequences such as the cars crashing or a rifle blast shaking the floors. Dialog is crisp and cleanly replicated and the balance of the track is done with pinpoint precision to create a very lifelike and engaging audio experience.
• Modified Organism: The Science Behind Morgan
• Deleted Scenes
• Feature Film Audio Commentary by Luke Scott
• Loom – Luke Scott Short Film with Audio Commentary by Luke Scott
• Still Gallery
“Morgan” had a cool trailer and I REALLY liked the cast, but sadly I just couldn’t get that into the film. The term “generic” really describes the film to a T. It’s like watching an old familiar movie once again, but having this unsettling feeling like it SHOULDN’T be this familiar. I enjoyed pieces of the movie, but the descent into a predictable action/horror piece at the very end was a bit TOO predictable and the end twist was about as shocking as finding out that Elton John was actually gay. Audio and video are spectacular and there’s actually some pretty neat extras on the discs, however I would still have to say that “Morgan” is decently bland rental, but not something I would go out and blind buy off a recommendation.
Starring: Kate Mara, Brian Cox, Anya Taylor-Joy
Directed by: Luke Scott
Written by: Seth W. Owen
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 HEVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 7.1, Spanish DD 5.1, French, DTS 5.1
Runtime: 92 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: December 13th, 2016
Buy Morgan on 4K Blu-ray at Amazon
Buy Morgan on Blu-ray at Amazon
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