Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Morgan Review: A Premise I just don't buy

Morgan Review
I was going to watch "Morgan" as a way of ending my long, fun week of all things Halloween related. I was hoping that "Morgan" would be this badass, science fiction-horror film. That was how the film was categorized on Wikipedia. Why did I consult Wikipedia, I don't know, sometimes I do. But as many of you know, I should not have trusted Wikipedia. Yes, the film is science fiction. But horror? No. Unless you find gore scary. I don't look at blood and personally have nightmares over it, but that's just me. 

Anya Taylor-Joy plays Morgan, and Taylor-Joy in particular blew me away when I first saw her in "The Witch" earlier this year. I was hoping for another great movie featuring her in it. While I think Taylor-Joy does incredible work here, she's playing a silly, cliche character in a rather dumb movie. Morgan is a bioengineered human created by a company that specializes in creating artificial human beings. Morgan is that sparkly test subject that surpasses all the test. Except she's still unstable and the death of someone working for the company, a risk assessment specialist played by Kate Mara shows up to evaluate Morgan. I'd give a name for Kate Mara's character, but she's so one-note, so one-dimensional, so soulless in the entire film that she shouldn't even have a name. I don't even know if her character truly even had a name, she was so mind-numbingly ordinary that she came off nameless.

So this risk assessment specialist meets with Morgan's handlers, the scientists who created her and she meets with Morgan herself and everything seems to look good. The scientists are impressed with their own work and they have become very attached to their creation. But when another scientists evaluates her and pushes her, Morgan kills them. Mara's character asks for Morgan to be terminated, but the scientists can't do it, so they lock up Mara's character and run away with Morgan...

This is when "Morgan" goes so far off the rails that I can't take it serious anymore. If this premise sounds familiar to you, it was kind of similar to "Ex Machina," the brilliant and far superior film made last year. A movie that made my top ten of the year last year, which I would keep on that list today. If you've seen "Ex Machina" or "Frankenstein" or even "Splice," those films are far superior and do more with the premise than "Morgan" does. "Morgan" is a movie about the first artificially made human being, a nearly perfect human. Shouldn't there be a sense of wonder behind this? Shouldn't there be some shock and awe to the film? Shouldn't this feel like vintage Steven Spielberg? Sadly, "Morgan" is none of those things. Sadly, "Morgan" is a hollow thriller that gets stupider and stupider as the running time drags on. The moments that are supposed to be scary are never close to being scary. The few good ideas in the movie are never fully explored, never put into any sort of general context. They are just kind of there, with no story to hold them together.

Then there is a reveal at the end. And it further ruined an already unbearable experience for me. Surprises only work if the audience can see how it comes together in the context of the movie. Sure, big reveals and surprises in movies can catch us off guard, but the ones that work service the movie, they make themselves apart of the story, if you take the time to dissect the scene, it fits into the film and you can see how the filmmakers got there. The surprise in "Morgan" is a complete cheat. I hate to do this, but I am going to spoil it. There is no way I am supposed to buy that Kate Mara's character was an artificial human this whole time. There is no evidence of that in the movie. No build up. No history. That is in the film just to throw one last egg at the wall to see if anything sticks. It is a cheat, and the audience will certainly feel cheated.

This film flabbergasts me because Anya Taylor-Joy and Kate Mara are good actors. So are Toby Jones, Michelle Yeoh, Paul Giamatti and Jennifer Jason Leigh. What are all of these good actors doing in such a horrible movie? This film is an embarrassment. Pieces of far better science fiction films that don't add up to satisfying whole. Something that is tremendously irritating to sit through and something I won't miss at all.


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