Posted Sep 05 2016

Morgan - This Frankenstein/AI/Ex Machina Movie Half-Rocks

Dir: Luke Scott

Starring Kate Rooney, Toby Jones, Paul Giamatti, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michelle Yeoh, Anya Taylor-Joy 

Luke Scott, son of Ridley, makes his feature debut with a movie that at times more than echoes his dad’s Alien breakthrough. Strong female lead, culturally mixed “crew”, isolated environment - not space here but an undisclosed forest (fairy tale-wise), and a large, all-powerful but mysterious “company” who seem to be in the market for some form of new being, one that appears to be some kind of indominatible killing machine. But instead of an alien xenomorph, the protagonists of Scott’s horror-sci-fi-mash-up, are dealing with a five year old, fully grown “woman” who goes by the name of Morgan – a built to purpose AI “it.”

For all of the above obvious similarities, there’s a lot to like in Scott Junior’s movie. It’s influences are far wider than those of his father noted above, taking in everything from Frankenstein to Spielberg’s AI, to such recent successes as Alex Garland Ex Machina – even if the latter is unintentional, given how closely the two fall together.

Scott the younger – like the older – has a keen eye and a genuine sense of style and it’s fair to say that before all hell breaks loose in the final act (come on – not a spoiler if you know the genre) he brings his own sensibility to the movie whilst eliciting solid performances all round, especially from Taylor-Joy as the other-worldly “it” that is Morgan. What with this and The Witch from earlier, she is having one hell of a year. Toby Jones may look from minute one like he hasn’t washed for a month and is therefore untrustworthy, and Kate Mara may ultimately be under served, but Giamatti gets to chew everything around him and Jason Leigh is a charm.

The film ultimately retreats into its own genre conventions for the last half hour or so, but whilst not fully satisfying, manages to play some of its final elements (if not all) close to its sleeve in a pleasing enough manner.

Not a great debut from Scott the younger, but one that bodes the possibility of more.


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