Morgan (2016 film)

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Morgan
Morgan film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Luke Scott
Produced by
Written by Seth Owen
Starring
Music by Max Richter
Cinematography Mark Patten
Edited by Laura Jennings
Production
company
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date
  • September 2, 2016 (2016-09-02)
Running time
92 minutes[1]
Country
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
Language English
Budget $8 million[2][3]
Box office $8.8 million[3]

Morgan is a 2016 British-American science fiction horror film directed by Luke Scott in his directorial debut, and written by Seth Owen.[4][5] The film features an ensemble cast, including Kate Mara, Anya Taylor-Joy, Toby Jones, Rose Leslie, Boyd Holbrook, Michelle Yeoh, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Paul Giamatti.

Filming began on May 26, 2015, in Northern Ireland. The film was released on September 2, 2016, by 20th Century Fox.[6]

Plot[edit]

Lee Weathers is a "risk-management specialist" for genetic-engineering company SynSect. She arrives at a rural site hosting its L-9 project, an artificial being with nanotechnology-infused synthetic DNA named Morgan. The "hybrid biological organism with the capacity for autonomous decision making and sophisticated emotional responses" is smarter than humans and matures quickly, walking and talking within a month and physically a teenager despite being five years old.

The cold and precise Weathers—she insists on calling Morgan "it"—is at the site to assess the project after a psychologist evaluates Morgan, after she used a pen to stab Dr. Kathy Grieff in the eye. Over dinner with the team of eight scientists, Weathers (who speaks Chinese) and project leaders Dr. Lui Cheng and Dr. Simon Ziegler discuss an incident in Helsinki involving Cheng in which 21 SynSect researchers were killed in an hour by "crude prototypes."

Lee learns that Morgan attacked Grieff when she was prohibited from leaving her room, a glass cell, after killing a deer impaled on a fallen tree while outside. The scientists have raised Morgan from birth following two failed attempts, and most consider her to be their child; Grieff defends Morgan to Weathers despite her injury, and Dr. Amy Menser wants to resume taking her on outings. The latter promises Morgan to take her to a nearby lake that she describes as wonderful; the behavioral therapist understands that Morgan is, despite her intellect and physical appearance and abilities, emotionally childlike. Although Morgan considers Cheng to be her "mother," the scientist is pessimistic about the project; she ended the outings because, Cheng tells Weathers, it is cruel to expose Morgan to a world she cannot be allowed to enter.

Psychologist Dr. Alan Shapiro arrives; when the artificial intelligence expert aggressively taunts Morgan as part of his evaluation, she kills him. Weathers tranquilizes Morgan after a brief escape, and decides that she is too unpredictable and must be terminated. The scientists refuse to kill Morgan; before Weathers can do so, they inject her with sedative and imprison her in the cell in which Morgan had been held. The scientists plan to escape with Morgan, but after waking she kills most of them, while Ziegler commits suicide.

In the scientists' house, Cheng records an apology for the failure of the project. The scientists tried to make Morgan "more human" than the previous attempts so she could exceed her design as a combat weapon, but found that the result was harder to control. Morgan arrives and, after conversing with her "mother" in Chinese, suffocates her. Weathers escapes the cell and briefly fights Morgan, able to match her. Morgan flees with the terrified Menser, who Morgan says is the only scientist who was a real friend to her.

Weathers and nutritionist Skip Vronsky follow the pair. The latter deduces that Morgan has forced Menser to take her to the lake, which entrances Morgan. She and Weathers fight again, seemingly matched in strength and speed. Morgan knocks down Weathers, who is impaled on the branch of a fallen tree. Morgan flees again but Weathers catches up and kills her. She shoots Menser and Vronsky to eliminate witnesses.

Weathers's superior at SynSect and another executive discuss the incident. They decide that it proves that the company's earlier L-4 project—Lee Weathers—is superior as a "perfect," less-emotional, human hybrid weapon. Elsewhere, Weathers makes the same gesture with her hands as Morgan.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Morgan, a sci-fi thriller scripted by Seth W. Owen, was placed on the 2014 Black List of Best Unproduced Screenplays. With 20th Century Fox attached as financier and distributor, Ridley Scott's Scott Free Productions was set to produce.[7] On March 10, 2015, Kate Mara was announced as having been cast in the lead role, corporate risk-management consultant Lee Weathers; Dakota Johnson, Claire Holt, Lena Dunham and Carice van Houten were also considered, while Luke Scott, son of Ridley, was set to make his directing debut, with Ridley Scott producing, along with Michael Schaefer and Elishia Holmes. Anya Taylor-Joy was also added to the cast in the title role of Morgan, the genetically-engineered being.[8] On April 29, 2015, Paul Giamatti and Toby Jones were cast as a psychologist and chief scientist in charge of the lab facility, respectively.[9] Boyd Holbrook was also set to play a nutritionist at the facility,[9] and Jennifer Jason Leigh and Michelle Yeoh were later cast in supporting roles.[10]

Filming[edit]

Principal photography on the film began on May 26, 2015, in Northern Ireland.[11][12]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

In the United States, Morgan was released on September 2, 2016, and was originally projected to gross around $6 million from 2,020 theaters in its opening weekend.[2][13] However, after grossing just $615,000 on its first day, weekend projections were lowered to $2 million. It went on to open to $2 million, finishing 18th at the box office.[14] In its second weekend it grossed just $495,000, finishing 21st at the box office.[15] It ultimately earned $8.8 million worldwide.[3]

Critical response[edit]

Morgan has received mixed reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an approval rating of 38%, based on 136 reviews, with a weighted average score of 5/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Morgan neglects to develop its decent premise, opting instead to settle for a garden-variety sci-fi thriller with more action than ideas."[16] On Metacritic the film has a score of 48 out of 100, based on 33 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[17] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C+" on an A+ to F scale.[18]

Keith Phipps of Uproxx praised the film's setup but criticized its execution, writing, "It floats a few interesting ideas it can’t develop and it doesn’t know how to ratchet up the tension or fold those ideas into thrills. And it’s not like that can’t be done with this premise, as Ex Machina already demonstrated."[19] Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film one out of four stars, ranking the film #4 among his worst films of 2016 and saying: "The only thing worse than the first three-quarters of Morgan is the supposed payoff, which veers from the dumb to the really dumb to the so-dumb-you’ll-hardly-believe it".[20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "MORGAN". British Board of Film Classification. August 23, 2016. Retrieved August 25, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Faughnder, Ryan (August 30, 2016). "'Don't Breathe' likely to beat 'Light Between Oceans' and 'Morgan' in Labor Day box office". Los Angeles Times. 
  3. ^ a b c "Morgan (2016)". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved December 10, 2016. 
  4. ^ Mendelson, Scott (August 30, 2016). "'Morgan' Review: Another Great Horror Movie In A Year Of Great Horror Movies". Forbes. Retrieved September 10, 2016. 
  5. ^ Moore, Trent (May 25, 2016). "First trailer for Morgan, the new sci-fi horror film from Ridley Scott's son". Blastr. Retrieved September 10, 2016. 
  6. ^ Getell, Oliver (May 24, 2016). "First look at Kate Mara in Luke Scott's sci-fi thriller Morgan". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved May 24, 2016. 
  7. ^ Bloom, David; Yamato, Jen (December 15, 2014). "'Catherine The Great' Leads The Blacklist 2014: Full List — Update". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 11, 2015. 
  8. ^ Kit, Borys (March 10, 2015). "Kate Mara to Star in Ridley Scott-Produced Sci-Fi Thriller 'Morgan' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 11, 2015. 
  9. ^ a b Kit, Borys (April 29, 2015). "Paul Giamatti, Toby Jones, Boyd Holbrook Joining Sci-Fi Thriller 'Morgan' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 30, 2015. 
  10. ^ Raup, Jordan (May 25, 2016). "First Trailer For Sci-Fi Feature 'Morgan' Starring Kate Mara, Paul Giamatti, and Anya Taylor-Joy". Thefilmstage.com. Retrieved May 25, 2016. 
  11. ^ "On the Set for 6/1/15: James Gunn Starts Shooting 'The Belko Experiment', Michael Keaton Begins Mcdonald's Biopic 'The Founder' & More". ssninsider.com. June 1, 2015. Archived from the original on April 22, 2016. Retrieved June 1, 2015. 
  12. ^ McCurry, Cate (May 11, 2015). "Movie stars jet in as Luke Scott sci-fi thriller starts filming". The Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved May 12, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Labor Day Box Office Offers Few Options With 'Morgan', 'Light Between Oceans'". Deadline Hollywood. 
  14. ^ "Don't Breathe' Still Has Oxygen, 'Suicide Squad' Seizes $300M+, 'Morgan' D.O.A. : Labor Day Weekend B.O. – Saturday Update". Deadline Hollywood. 
  15. ^ Anthony D'Alessandro (September 11, 2016). "'Sully' Soaring, 'Bough' Breaks To Mid-Teen, 'Wild Life' Snoozing, 'Disappointments' DOA". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 11, 2016. 
  16. ^ "Morgan (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 24, 2018. 
  17. ^ "Morgan Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved September 5, 2016. 
  18. ^ "CinemaScore". cinemascore.com. 
  19. ^ Phipps, Keith (August 30, 2016). "The Too-Familiar 'Morgan' Uses A Dangerous Creation To Explore The Line Between Humans And Machines". Uproxx. Retrieved September 2, 2016. 
  20. ^ Roeper, Richard (September 1, 2016). "'Morgan' review: To err is human, but this girl sure isn't". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved September 2, 2016. 

External links[edit]