Movie Review: "Morgan" - Ex Machina's Ugly Step-Sister

September 16, 2016

Did I just watch a terrible sequel to Ex Machina? If you haven’t already seen Morgan, the new sci-fi thriller from producer Ridley Scott, don’t.

 

Ugh…how do I properly review (and critique) this movie without giving away the ending? The problem with the entire film WAS the ending. My husband called it about 10 minutes into the film.

 

But let me back up a little bit and set the stage here first.

 

The film is about a bioengineered organism named Morgan. “She” is part-human and part-robot, meaning she was “born” an infant and “grew” to an adult. Highly intelligent, she was designed to exhibit more emotive responses than your run-of-the-mill android. The problem is that she becomes too emotive and one day explodes, harming one of the scientists that “raised” her. The film then illustrates the process of evaluating the malfunctioning AI.

 

Ryan and I decided to go to the drive-in to see Morgan. The lot was practically vacant, which was nice, but the screen was placed in front of a casino, which was horrendous.  Not only were the flashing neon lights distracting, they were really bright. The cinematography in Morgan is dark and muted, and when placed against a flashing casino background, I strained to see some the film.

 

So, if you live in Vegas and you haven’t seen Morgan, definitely do NOT go to the drive-in to watch it.

 

But regardless of the issues I had with lighting and the screen, the story just isn’t very good. It isn’t believable.

 

 

I know, I know…many of you are thinking, “But it’s a science fiction movie about a robot. How can it possibly be believable?!” Personally, I think sci-fi is better when it IS believable. Far-reaching sci-fi, like Star Trek and X-Men, falls into more of a fantasy category for me. It leaves me feeling entertained, yes, but it’s so incredibly unbelievable that takes me completely out of this world, making it only enjoyable on a “don’t’ worry, be happy” level.

 

Believable sci-fi is not only entertaining, it’s also thought-provoking and…a little terrifying. Take The Walking Dead, for instance. While the idea of a government created, zombie-making pathogen is far-fetched (although some conspiracy theorists would say it isn’t), what’s believable is its depiction of the subsequent fall of civilization. The Walking Dead isn’t really about zombies - it’s about how mankind deals with the breakdown of society.

 

(And yes, I know TWD is considered horror, not sci-fi, BUT, in my opinion, horror and sci-fi are very closely related. In fact, zombies are typically depicted as human mutations brought on by government chemical weapon outbreaks. Hmmm…that sure sounds like science fiction to me…)

 

 

Morgan just isn’t believable…but it isn’t the acting or the production value. Those elements were very VERY good. Anya Taylor-Joy’s portrayal of Morgan is not only chilling, but also compelling, and Paul Giamatti makes a brief, but powerful appearance.  The film’s setting is beautiful and shot well, and the overall pacing of the film is fantastic…it never really dragged.

 

But, despite those positive qualities, the story isn’t believable because the actions of its characters don’t make sense. In the beginning, the characters are scared of Morgan, and have taken every precaution to safeguard against the bioengineered weapon…but as the film progresses, this fear seems to disappear and the characters throw caution to the wind. There is even one character that refuses help from others when everything about the setting screams that help is needed. I understand that most thought-provoking films don’t make sense in the beginning…but during Morgan, I didn’t find myself asking, “Hmm, I wonder why the character is doing that?” Instead, inside my head I was SCREAMING, “Why is the character doing that?! It doesn’t make any sense!”

 

Like I mentioned earlier, Ryan, my husband, accurately predicted the ending about 10 minutes into the film. It wasn’t as obvious to me, but as the film progressed, because the motivation of the characters was so bizarre, the ending became very clear. Why? Because it was the only ending that made any sense.

 

So, I’m sure it goes without saying…don’t waste your movie-going dollars on this one. I wouldn’t even pay $5.99 to watch this film on demand. If you really NEED to see this movie, wait to rent it from Red Box ($1.50/day), or better yet, just wait until you can watch it for free.

 

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writer | author | sci-fi storyteller

Lisa Caskey

writer | author | sci-fi storyteller
© 2016 by Lisa Caskey
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