Blu-ray Review: Morgan (2016)

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Movies bomb at the box office for a variety of reasons. Some are poorly marketed. Others simply don't hold any mainstream appeal. And then there are those that flat out suck. Morgan belongs in the latter category. Derivative, predictable, and loaded with lapses of logic, it's the story of a genetically-engineered human with advanced strength and cognitive skills. Though only five years old, "Morgan" (Anya Taylor-Joy, very good in The Witch and soon to be seen in the promising-looking M. Night Shyamalan thriller Split) appears to be a woman in her late teens and possesses fighting skills roughly equivalent to those of a ninja. She lives in a cell at the research facility that created her. Her violent outbursts have necessitated the enlistment of outside help. 
 
morgan kate mara.jpg Lee Weathers (it might've been fun if they'd cast Lee Meriwether, given the name, but instead we get a slumming Kate Mara) works for some sort of company that oversees the development of artificial humans. She's all business as she assesses the dangerous impact resulting from Morgan's impulsive, uncontrolled emotions. Dr. Alan Shapiro (no relation to the acclaimed poet, this Shapiro is played by a slumming Paul Giamatti) is brought in to offer psychiatric counselling, to disastrous results. It's never clear why this company would create such a physically strong and mentally unstable human. What purpose will this "artificial" person is intended to serve is anyone's guess. 

morgan anya taylor joy.jpg Just as perplexing is why the staff at the research facility is so attached to Morgan. Yes, they've been working with her since her birth five years before, but she's basically a rage-fueled feral beast. Still they're willing to risk everything to keep her from being put down. Once the story devolves into a relentless pursuit to capture the escaped Morgan, the whole enterprise feels like a generic, uninspired, sub-made-for-TV action thriller. And the big reveal near the end? Full disclosure: I'm the worst at guessing plot twists. I rarely seem them coming, even when they're relatively obvious. But the twist in Morgan I figured out about halfway through. That's not bragging. It's just meant to underline how bluntly telegraphed everything is in this sad exercise.

Fox went all out with a DTS-HD MA 7.1 surround mix that at least adds a little audio pizzazz to Morgan. Special features include the 20-minute featurette "Modified Organism: The Science Behind Morgan." Junk science, more like. First-time feature film director Luke Scott provides audio commentary not only for the main film but also the deleted scenes (six minutes) and his 20-minute 2012 short Loom. For the true Morgan fans out there, there's also a still gallery.

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Chaz Lipp is a Seattle-based freelance writer whose focus is music and film. As “The Other Chad,” he has written for the online magazine Blogcritics since 2008. When he’s not writing, Chaz can be found trolling jazz clubs, attempting to find somewhere to play his sax (whether anyone wants to hear…

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