Creation. We have striven since the beginning of time to grow beyond ‘Adam and Eve’. Science has allowed us to make great breakthroughs to help us extend and even enhance our lives. Sometimes, things go too far and we must repent for our sins. This is the morality tale at the heart of Luke Scott’s MORGAN.
Set in a lush Upstate New York state forest, a team of scientists has been hard at work creating a new artificial intelligence humanoid called Morgan. Although she has the physical characteristics of a 20 year old, Morgan (Anna Taylor-Jones (The Witch) has the mentality and reactions of a five year old. When she exhibits a violent reaction, injuring one of the scientists, Corporate calls in Lee Weathers (Kate Mara) to assess the situation. The cast is rounded out rather brilliantly with Paul Giamatti, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Toby Jones, Brian Cox and Michelle Yeoh.
MORGAN is Luke Scott’s directorial debut and it shows. Seth W. Owen’s script asks a significant number of questions, but answers very few of them, which is unfortunate. There are some strong elements of paranoia and duality buried within the script that should have been explored further. As mentioned, this movie’s strength is in its casting and production.
While the overall plot may have lacked, the visual direction by Scott is far more polished than it should be for someone with his experience. This is no doubt due to the participation of his dad, producer Ridley Scott. Although this is very much Luke Scott’s project, Ridley had a very strong guiding presence, to the benefit of the movie.
Visually, the movie delivers. There is a very nice mix of exterior and interior locations and DP Mark Patten (THE COUNSELOR, THE MARTIAN) is certainly up to the challenge. Whether we’re in the lab monitoring Morgan, having a conversation around a dinner table at the house, or there’s action through the forest, Patten’s experience with Ridley really shines. Tom McCullah’s production design and Elaine McLenachan’s set decoration are the highlights of this story’s visuals. From the neo-classical nature of the mid-century home that serves as the scientist’s quarters or the lab and labyrinthine maze that is the forest surrounding the house, the duality on display in the production design serves the story effectively.
Another of the highlights of this movie is its special effects, done by Millennium FX under Simon Cockren’s supervision. From Morgan to the visually repugnant, Cockren’s team did a brilliant job bringing the effects to life.
Laura Jennings’s (EDGE OF TOMORROW) editing style really came in handy, given the other worldly elements on hand in the movie. Although it could have been tightened up a bit more plot-wise, it serves the overall story effectively. The score is, finally, an integral piece of this movie’s overall fabric, and Max Richter (ESCOBAR: PARADISE LOST) delivers.
Technically, MORGAN is stunning. Plot-wise, this story has been done better. Whether it is corporate paranoia in the guise of ALIEN, or science-gone-wrong in SPECIES, SPLICE or the ever-amazing EX MACHINA, MORGAN misses the mark and is therefore Not Recommended.
Of interest, the trailer for the film was culled together via IBM’s AI system, Watson. Watson scanned all of the movie footage and, based on the intended dataset, selected scenes that it thought would fill the needs of the trailer. Humans then took the selected footage and edited it together to form the final trailer. More information can be found at
The trailer can be viewed here: