Hmmm. Home grown doesn’t appear to be the best way to do things.
Inside a remote, top-secret lab, a group of scientists are working on an experiment that is leading the way for the next steps in human evolution. But when the experiment’s subject – a genetically designed “human” (Anya Taylor-Joy) – triggers a terrifying event, those involved must decide if the promise of infinite potential outweighs the incalculable danger.
Let’s break this sucker down.
The first act of Morgan establishes the players pretty quickly. Thanks to an unexpected incident between an experiment, Morgan (Anya Taylor-Joy), and a scientist named Kathy (Jennifer Jason Leigh), which involved a pen and a missing eye, we’re introduced to our first major character named Lee (Kate Mara), who is sent in to figure out whether Morgan should be put down or not. The scientist are introduced through Lee’s investigation, starting with Amy (Rose Leslie), who is the closest person to Morgan, hanging with her the most and being a big sister to her. From there we the secondary characters enter the scene with Dr. Lui Cheng (Michelle Yeoh), Morgan’s pseudo-mother, and co-head scientist Dr. Simon Ziegler (Toby Jones), a father figure of sorts. Lee has to investigate the scientists, their methods and make them understand that Morgan might have to be yanked away from them. Meeting resistance at every corner, Lee finally brings in someone to help out with a potentially bad situation. The first act starts to wrap when Dr. Alan Shapiro (Paul Giamatti) shows up to start a psychological evaluation of Morgan, which ends up being the catalyst for the second act.
Honestly speaking, the first act establishes a lot characters in a short amount of time. On top of this, it also takes time to establish what is predictably the ‘shit hits the fan’ moment of the second act. Through uses of uncomfortable silence, dialogue through the eyes of Morgan and major players, as well as moments of thick tension, the first act let’s you know pretty quick that not all is right with the experiment gone wrong. The first act tip-toes around the fact that there is a triggering moment for Morgan and it does its best to find it. It never quite makes it before it ends, but it certainly sets up the second to find it.
And it finds that moment quickly.
The second act starts with Giamatti’s Shapiro character finally getting a vicious reaction from Morgan in his line of questioning. Trying to pick Morgan’s brain, running through several scenarios where she is either trapped in her cage forever, released in the wild to be one with nature, and to be happy, or simply put down like a sick dog, the solicited response he is hoping to find turns into a brutal attack, which leaves Giamatti’s short lived character dead as a doornail. That one incident, on top of the original, becomes a catalyst for the entire second act. The catalyst looks to be divided into two pieces. The first piece is Lee ordering the scientists to put down their experiment before it’s too late. This portion of the act features a lot of good anxiety and tension with some tough decisions to boot. Seeing an emotional moment where the scientists have to pretty much explain to Morgan what is about to happen and feeding her the long, hard truth before it does is tough to watch. The second part of the catalyst is everyone getting their asses kicked by Morgan, even when they were trying to help her out. The act concludes with Morgan finally escaping, but being chased by Lee.
The second act is confusing. The reasoning behind Morgan’s actions, especially during the second half of the catalyst is shallow at best. Giamatti’s character, bless his heart, is so useless before and after his moment that it’s pretty obvious he was merely put in there to turn the tides of the story. He was a living McGuffin, though just briefly on both accounts. It seemed like the writers honestly didn’t know where to go or couldn’t create a moment where Morgan could shift from good to bad, so they threw in the towel and created this character played by Giamatti. He was badly out of place and poorly established with the rest of the group. That said, once the corner was turned and things take a turn for the worse, it is weird seeing Morgan change from loving child to hatred-filled killer. The turn was so short and sudden. The reasoning behind her turn was so incredibly lame, as you would think that it would take more effort and explanation for her character to feel betrayed, especially when the scientist decide to do what they decide to do with Lee. Sadly, because of the sudden character and story switch the second act is just a mess that never recovers. It doesn’t apologize for the confusion, it simply says better days are ahead of us in the movie. While it certainly might be right, it still doesn’t excuse its own faults.
The third act of the film is long enough to appreciate, though. While it didn’t heal the issues of the second, not by a long shot, it at least gave us a good chase that was unpredictable at times. I will say that the chase was far better than the twist at the end, which wasn’t terribly surprising, so enjoy it. On that note, I’m going to zip it about the third act say no more, as I don’t want to give anything else away.
Director Luke Scott seemed to have an idea of what he wanted his vision to be for the movie Morgan. He wanted very badly to have a psychological, sci-fi thriller that puts you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. Led by a brutal antagonist that is learning human habits, emotions and deceptions, Scott wanted this to be a raw adventure through an experiment gone wrong. I could see this, almost in the same vein as his father’s Alien movie.
While the intentions were there, sadly the execution was stuck in first gear the entire film. The story seemed to confuse itself with what it wanted to be. It jumped from a relationship movie between Frankenstein (a group of scientists) and his monster (Morgan) to a horror murder spree for no good reason other than to turn the pace of the movie up a bit. The change in tone was so incredibly dramatic that you will be absolutely floored on how the story gets to where it ends up at by the conclusion.
Even worse, the dialogue in the film tried to be dramatic during these moments, but the lack of character development and relationships between characters made most of what was written fall flat on the floor with absolutely no emotion attached. It seemed as if the writers were in a rush to get somewhere, but yet didn’t have a clue on where they wanted to go. It’s a shame too because the film has moments of entertainment that come through, as well as some greatness sprinkled in. In other words, the pieces are there, but no piece is detailed enough, connects well enough with other pieces or made well to bring about what was intended with the characters and story to life.
Potential is the word for this film, but it never meets it.
Overall, Morgan has some intriguing moments of tension, suspense and horror/sci-fi. Sadly, none of those come together very well. They look good individually, but fit terribly together like misshapen puzzle pieces. Again, good moments, but not together.
On the special features side of things, here’s what to expect:
– 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
Good stuff that adds to good intentions of the feature film.