From the trailer, Morgan looked an awful lot like the 1995 film Species – an artificial human girl created in a lab gets out and they had to get her back. That’s what I’d been expecting anyway (I was wrong) but, the trailer didn’t reveal much. Actually that’s the thing about this movie – Morgan is a film that carefully manages how much is revealed at one time. It tantalises and reveals overtly when the time is right. Morgan gets foreshadowing exactly right. We are able to barely guess what’s going to happen, soon enough to feel smart but not soon enough to spoil the movie.
A corporate risk-management consultant must decide whether or not to terminate an artificially created humanoid being.
Where Morgan really shone was the supporting characters. I liked the scientists (and the cook – Boyd Holbrook is handsome). I liked Toby Jones, who was so obviously conflicted from the start. I liked Michael Yare who was smug and in control until suddenly he wasn’t. I liked Michelle Yeoh whose character had been through all this before and knew what was going to happen.
And I especially liked Chris Sullivan, the guy who has to do all the actual dirty work and whose moral decisions changed the course of the film. Those guys were all compelling and relate-able, I kind of wish more of the show had been about them, it would have been much better. I should also mention Anya Taylor-Joy, who was amazing as Morgan: so chilly and yet still evoked empathy.
That said, there was something about this movie that left me cold. Maybe it was the fact that I was disappointed once all had been revealed. I found this film moved too slowly. Don’t get me wrong, I like a nice slow burn, something that gradually ratchets up the tension until you realize you’ve had to pee for a half hour and you’d rather sit with the discomfort and see how the film ends than miss a single moment. This was not that film. It started off good but the mystery didn’t deepen any. The stakes were not raised. Morgan’s plot revolves around what kind internal life of its titular character could have. Is she a sociopath? Is she just a child trapped in a superhuman body? I was not satisfied with the answer.
This film was visually effective. The cold clinical blues and grays of the clinic, the vibrant greens and yellows of the forest; it worked well. I was not captivated by the visuals though. I suppose that could be deliberate, they didn’t want the visuals to detract from the carefully laid out plot. And the plot really was carefully laid out, leading inexorably to one final revelation at the end which, I think, was supposed to be the main point of the film. I get the feeling that a lot had to get cut in order to maximize that climax. There’s rich detail in all the background and dialogue but there are things mentioned that are never brought up again (like the source of a particular power outage). Checkov’s gun is not fired.
So is Morgan worth watching? Yes, but I’d rent it. It has so much potential, it might be better the more times you watch it. Morgan feels like it should have been a television show, with different episodes covering different aspects, a main arc they’d come back to every now and then and a shocker episode every now and then. That way they could have spent time on the actual mysteries of the film instead of pacing everything towards the end.
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