Review: MORGAN

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By Mark Saldana

Rating: 1.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

Despite a solid cast and decent characters, but a cliche premise, Morgan ultimately disappoints and has little entertainment value to offer movie goers.  One thing is to take an unoriginal premise and do something exciting with it; however, the filmmakers of this movie riddle their plot and story with tropes, cliches and a highly predictable conclusion.  This film might make for a “nothing else is on,” viewing on television, but Morgan is definitely not worth anyone’s time or money at the cinema.

Kate Mara stars as Lee Weathers, a company risk-management assessor sent to investigate the work of a team of scientists secretly working on an artificial intelligence project.  The subject of the project, Morgan (Anya Taylor-Joy), is a scientific breakthrough created by the combination of organic material and advanced electronics.  Aging at an accelerated rate, Morgan, who is only six years-old appears to be the age of a teenager and has begun to display incredible strength and powers.  Psychologically adjusting to her environment and the outside world proves more challenging, though.  After losing her temper, Morgan viciously attacks scientist  Dr. Kathy Grieff (Jennifer Jason Leigh), prompting the corporation behind the experiment to send Weathers to investigate.

Written by Seth W. Owen and directed by Luke Scott, Morgan comes across as an exercise in derivation.  Artificial intelligence, the folly of humanity tampering with it and human anatomy, and the moral issues associated with it–audiences have seen this all before.  Again, that’s fine if the filmmakers can bring something different to the table with these themes, but Owen and Scott do not whatsoever.  The result is a film that feels like a collage of previous science fiction stories pieced together and labeled and marketed as something slightly different.  To make things even more frustrating, the attempted twist at the end of the film is so ridiculously transparent that I knew exactly what it would be during the first few acts of the movie.

To be fair, Scott and Owen do attempt to develop their characters well and they succeed.  The strength of this screenplay lies in the presentation of the scientists, Morgan, Lee Weathers, and everyone else involved in the story.  The cast also delivers great performances which bring these characters to life.  Anya Taylor-Joy delivers a haunting and heartfelt performance as the title character who feels lost and confused by her existence in the world.  Rose Kelley stars as Dr. Amy Menser, the scientist closest to Morgan with whom she shares a motherly/older-sisterly relationship.  Toby Jones portrays Dr. Simon Ziegler, one of the head scientists of the project who has become obsessed with accomplishing his goals, but also has an emotional attachment with Morgan.   Paul Giamatti also stars as Dr. Alan Shapiro, a smug and unlikable psych doctor who is brought in to test Morgan.  Finally, Kate Mara delivers a solid turn as Lee Weathers, a cold and calculating company person who limits her personal connections with the scientists, but shares a bond with Morgan, despite their limited time together.

So by now, most of the readers of this review should know that I do not recommend this movie for theatrical viewing whatsoever.  I do not even want to encourage anyone to spend money on a rental.  To its credit, the film does have some decent drama, and character development, but there are other movies and shows out there with nearly identical themes and story elements that are way better than this one.  Instead of wasting time and money on this one, watch Ex-Machina, Hanna, or the series Stranger Things.  Those stories, at least, do something more inventive with their derived material.

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