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Morgan (2016)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 12/13/2016

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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 12/9/2016

"The apple doesn't fall from far from the tree" is an old expression which means that children often inherit the traits of their parents. (And, if you think about it, it's weird how that saying can be used in a positive or negative manner, depending on the tone.) While this saying is often true (and people will be quick to let you know when your kids act like you), it's not always accurate. Therefore, you can't use it to correctly predict how the progeny of a specific person will perform. Director Ridley Scott has made some good movies (and one great one) and his brother Tony...certainly knew how to shoot an action scene. But what about Ridley Scott's son? Will he have the cinematic chops of his dad?

As Morgan opens, Lee Weathers (Kate Mara) arrives at a secluded house. We glean from a phone conversation that she is there to investigate a situation. She meets Ted (Michael Yare), who takes her though the house -- where she also meets Skip (Boyd Holbrook, the chef -- and then they enter an underground lab. In addition, Lee is introduced to Dr. Menser (Rose Leslie), who is acting somewhat nervous. Ted then takes Lee into an underground lab where she meets Dr. Ziegler (Toby Jones) and Dr. Finch (Chris Sullivan). It's here that Lee comes face-to-face with her objective -- Morgan (Anya Taylor-Joy). Morgan is a human who was grown in the lab, and despite the fact that she looks like an adolescent, she is only five years old. Lee has been sent in to check on the project, as Morgan has exhibited some violent tendencies. What Lee soon finds is that the tight-knit group in the lab have become very protective of Morgan.

I realize that Luke Scott is not a household name, but it doesn't take a ton of research to learn that he's a member of the Scott filmmaking dynasty. (Along with father Ridley and late uncle Tony, brother Jake has made several cool music videos.) And by putting his name in the credits, people are going to have certain expectations for the film. If you buy into the auteur theory, which states that the director is the "author" of the film, then that person must shoulder any issues with the movie. But, in this case, we must turn our attention to the script by Seth W. Owen, for this is where the issues with Morgan lie.

When it comes to the look of the film and the production design, Morgan is just fine. And one can understand why those involved would want to work with the next generation of Scotts. But, what in this story drew them to the project? The movie contains storypoints and ideas which we've seen before. The basic theme here goes back to the Frankenstein motif with scientists playing God and their experiment getting out of control. Obviously, we've seen this before and the movie does absolutely nothing to freshen it up. The science of how Morgan was created is completely glossed over and we get little information about what they've done with her until now, save for taking her for walks in the woods. Lee is supposed to be out conduit to this world, but she doesn't seem very curious about the goings-on and doesn't serve as a means for us to gather information. There is some action here, some of which is supposed to be shocking, but it's so telegraphed that we literally have to wait for it to happen. Scott certainly needs to work on building suspense.

The bottom line with Morgan is that it's boring and dull. Not only does the movie bring nothing new to the genre, it doesn't have the good sense to rip off the best example of this type of movie from the past decade -- Splice. That movie had a similar basic plot, but it then went completely cocoa-bananas and went to some very taboo and twisted places. Morgan plays everything completely safe, including its final twist, which is not only obvious from the film's opening, but handled very poorly in its reveals. I like the cast here and The Witch's Anya Taylor-Joy continues to show up in interesting roles. But the movie plays like a faded copy of other, better movies and doesn't bode well for the next generation of the Scott family.

Morgan gets a lot of mileage out of a hoodie on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 29 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The picture here looks very good. I'd hoped to get the 4K Ultra HD to review, but I can't imagine how it looks much better than the transfer here. Colorwise, this is a very cool movie, but it never looks overly dark. Conversely, the green of the forest really jumps out. The image is crisp and the depth looks good. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 5.2 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This is a nicely balanced track, as it deftly handles the film's quiet moments and the boisterous finale. The surround sound and stereo effects show nice details and bring in individual sounds. The subwoofer effects attempt to add some presence to the action scenes.

The Morgan Blu-ray Disc contains just a few extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Luke Scott. "Modified Organism: The Science Behind Morgan" (20 minutes) contains comments from scientists who discuss the real-life technology behind and the ethics of DNA manipulation and the genetic engineering of a new being. We also get comments from Scott. The Disc contains five DELETED SCENES which run about 6 minutes and can be viewed with commentary from Scott. There aren't any new subplots or characters here. "Loom" (20 minutes) is a short film from Scott which stars Giovanni Ribisi. The extras are rounded out by a "Gallery" and two TRAILERS.

Review Copyright 2016 by Mike Long