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Morgan: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Review

Morgan (2016) movie poster Morgan

Theatrical Release: September 2, 2016 / Running Time: 92 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Luke Scott / Writer: Seth Owen

Cast: Kate Mara (Lee Weathers), Anya Taylor-Joy (Morgan), Toby Jones (Dr. Simon Ziegler), Rose Leslie (Dr. Amy Menser), Boyd Holbrook (Skip Vronsky), Michelle Yeoh (Dr. Lui Cheng), Jennifer Jason Leigh (Dr. Kathy Grieff), Paul Giamatti (Dr. Alan Shapiro), Michael Yare (Ted Brenner), Chris Sullivan (Dr. Darren Finch), Vinette Robinson (Dr. Brenda Finch), Brian Cox (Jim Bryce)

Buy Morgan from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD DVD + Digital HD Instant Video

B movies technically have not existed since the 1950s, when theaters stopped showing double features. Today, the label can be applied to schlocky movies made for TV and video.
Occasionally, though, a B movie receives a wide theatrical release. Morgan is such a film.

This R-rated sci-fi thriller from first-time feature director Luke Scott and nearly as green screenwriter Seth Owen attracted some big name talent, probably due to the fact that the director is the son of the accomplished Ridley Scott. With Ridley producing, this cost only $8 million, a small amount for a major studio genre picture and a fraction of what most of the elder Scott's films have cost. Ridley's achievements in science fiction, from Alien and Blade Runner through Prometheus and The Martian, are significant enough to assume that his son inherited some talent in his genes. Morgan, however, makes a pretty convincing argument that he did not.

Corporate risk assessment consultant Lee Weathers (Kate Mara) observes genetic experiment Morgan (Anya Taylor-Joy) in the sci-fi film "Morgan."

The film sees Lee Weathers (Kate Mara), a risk assessment consultant from "corporate" sent to observe a facility where genetically engineered beings are raised. The unnamed facility has been home to a number of artificially intelligent experiments, including the titular Morgan (The Witch's Anya Taylor-Joy), a fully-grown 5-year-old the movie wastes no time in establishing as emotionally unstable.

Morgan is evaluated by a psychologist (Paul Giamatti) who tries to provoke a reaction from her. From here, it's only a question of who will survive the inevitable onslaught, as employees at the facility have seemingly been introduced only to potentially stop this wild child or die trying. The employees include a friendly to the point of unprofessional behaviorist (Rose Leslie), an easygoing cook (Boyd Holbrook), and some authoritative scientists (Toby Jones and Michelle Yeoh).

Dr. Alan Shapiro (Paul Giamatti) tries to get a rise out of Morgan in his psychological evaluation of the genetic engineering subject.

There are interesting ideas in Morgan pertaining to the ever-advancing fields of AI and genetic engineering. But somehow they do nothing to render this particularly story interesting. The psych evaluation arrests, if only due to some compelling Giamatti acting. And an eleventh hour twist somewhat justifies some of the plot's underdeveloped elements.
But this is a lifeless, joyless, plodding excursion. It's not just short on action, but on characters you care about and on ideas that hold your attention. Though running a brisk 86 minutes plus credits, the film demands patience with its tiresome design of people speaking about this almost human creation behind glass walls with mixed feelings.

Though more of his father's films have been commercially successful than not, Luke's debut crashed and burned at the box office, opening in 18th place with just $2 million and failing to even double that despite a 2,020 theater count. In addition to being the year's third lowest-grossing release in over 2,000 theaters (besting only Max Steel and Warren Beatty's Rules Don't Apply), Morgan hardly fared any better in foreign territories, making it unprofitable even at its modest price tag.

The unflatteringly reviewed flick recently hit stores in a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo from Fox.

Morgan: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD cover art - click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.40:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: 7.1 DTS-HD MA (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Descriptive Video Service, Spanish, French, Czech, Hindi, Hungarian, Thai, Turkish)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish, French, Czech, Croatian, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Korean, Malay, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Romanian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Thai, Turkish, Vietnamese
Extras Subtitled in English, Spanish, French; DVD and Extras Closed Captioned
Release Date: December 13, 2016
Suggested Retail Price: $32.37
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9 & BD-50)
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Holographic Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as DVD + Digital HD ($29.98 SRP) and on Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Eight million dollars may be chump change to some mainstream filmmakers, but it is enough to make Morgan look terrific on Blu-ray. The 2.40:1 picture is sharp, clean, and pristine. The 7.1 DTS-HD master audio mix is suitably immersive and balanced. Fox has armed the Blu-ray with a bevy of foreign language dubs and subtitles, an attempt to amplify the set's global appeal.

In lieu of a standard making-of featurette, we get "Modified Organism", a piece on the real science fictionalized in the film. Jennifer Jason Leigh's wounded Dr. Kathy Grieff appears in two deleted scenes.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The extras, which are the same on both the Blu-ray and DVD assembled here, begin with "Modified Organism: The Science Behind Morgan" (19:40), which focuses on genetic engineering more than anything else. Scientists discuss the field's evolution and current standing. It seems like there's a pretty small group that would be interested enough in the movie to want to learn about science, which makes this a strange choice to be the only featurette included here.

A deleted scenes section consists of five deleted/extended scenes (6:03). They're not too notable, though Jennifer Jason Leigh does make an additional appearance and a Lee-Morgan fight is extended. The cuts are presented with optional audio commentary in which Luke Scott explains their loss.

Luke Scott's 2012 short film "Loom" centers on a genetic scientist played by Giovanni Ribisi. The Morgan main menu at least shows some creativity.

Next up is Loom (20:27), a long 2012 short written and directed by Luke Scott about a laboratory technician (Giovanni Ribisi) who decides to grow something other than food from protein strains:
a lady (Jellybean Howie). One can easily see some of the seeds of Morgan in this Ridley-produced work, even if the younger Scott does not take writing credit on the feature. Luke Scott also provides audio commentary on this short, with more of the information and attitude you get from the feature commentary.

That feature commentary is next and finds Luke Scott again flying solo. He speaks consistently, filling the air with revelations and observations. Clearly, he has poured a lot of thought into the film, even if the underwhelming results suggest otherwise. This might be considered an improvement over the film's actual soundtrack, but I'm still not able to recommend a listen.

A gallery holds 44 publicity stills, very few of which have a behind-the-scenes element to them.

A Trailers section holds Morgan's theatrical teaser and trailer (4:07).

The discs open with a Digital HD promo and trailers for Assassin's Creed, X-Men: Apocalypse, and The Martian. The Sneak Peek section holds these and a Deadpool trailer as well.

The menu creatively applies the facility's observation filters to clips from the film. The Blu-ray resumes playback.

Along with your Digital HD code insert, the two uniquely labeled, fully-colored discs share an eco-friendly keepcase that is topped by a holographic slipcover.

For the second time in 2016, Anya Taylor-Joy held a title role in a low-budget genre film from a young, unproven director. "Morgan", however, wasn't nearly as well-received as "The Witch."

CLOSING THOUGHTS

It's tough to find anything to appreciate in Morgan. Though its themes lend to intelligence and substance, this sci-fi flick delivers little of either as it bores with a stagnant tale of volatile AI that no twist can save.

Fox's Blu-ray combo pack provides first-rate video/audio and okay extras, but the movie warrants a hard pass.

Buy Morgan from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD / DVD + Digital HD / Instant Video

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Reviewed January 9, 2017.



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