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Quite an accurate gauge of the current pervasive fear infused within the population is to analyze the antagonists found in popular science fiction of the time. During the Victorian era as the Industrial Revolution was gaining traction, electricity viewed by many as a technology that would do irreparable harm rather than the promised benefits to society. After the explosion of atomic bombs that ended World War II radiation became the next advancement in technology, evoked terror in a significant portion of the population was anything based on atomic energy mostly because of the largely unknown effects of radiation that was able to change the very structure of living organisms. Now the science wielded by humanity and rewrites the very book of life by altering the genetic code, allowing scientists to virtually play God by changing the creature on the most fundamental level or even create forms of life that have never seen in the natural world. This brave new frontier has been the theme of the increasing number of science fiction stories in a fashion similar to those of the gone before a frightening as a result of the possible truth in view in the story. Among the latest consideration of this theme is a relatively low-budget film, ‘Morgan.' The main plot is concerned with the company that is researching altering the human genome to exhibit predetermined traits that will help meet the specifications designed by their potential clients, augments the fear of tampering with human DNA to potentially more horrific interference by a corporation solely driven by the acquisition of wealth and power. All things considered, they are by far the gravest and realistic threat portrayed in this film. The caveat that applies to every form technology that is instilled fear in public is that the researchers continued because of the potential to greatly beneficial advancement in the quality of life. Still, every new technology from fire to quantum mechanics is a two-edged sword. In keeping with science-fiction, this film concentrates on the dangers of genetic manipulation.

The powerful unnamed Corporation maintains a top-secret research and development station deep in a remote area. The latest product of the research is the genetic hybrid human referred to as Morgan (Anya Taylor-Joy). Lately, her behavior is becoming somewhat erratic, so she submitted to examination by the team psychologist, Dr. Kathy Grieff (Jennifer Jason Leigh). During Dr. Grieff’s interview with the subject, Morgan subtly loses control, links over the table stabbing the doctor in the eye with a pen. Making this aggressive behavior even stranger is that Morgan has the appearance of a very pretty young woman belly out of her teens. Ms. Taylor-Joy exhibits such an incredible control over the character that is not entirely human this exciting to watch this young actress exhibit such a mastery of her craft. This incredible performance follows another amazing exhibition of abilities in the film, ‘The Witch.'

Corporations are highly predictable, particularly when something goes wrong that is potentially damaging to public relations or poses the risk of becoming litigious. In response to the ‘incident,' head office dispatched an investigator, Lee Weathers (Kate Mara), a risk-assessment specialist. It is her job to determine whether the potential for profit outweighs the risk, in this case including sacrificing human life. Ms. Weathers is extremely stern, mission-oriented young woman. A focuses entirely on doing her job, and only reason for contact staff is not to relate to them as human beings to include them in a risk analysis. There is a constant mention of some incident that occurred in Helsinki that was apparently the result of interference by a competitor and nearly disastrous to the company, led to increased paranoia that extreme vigilance among the upper tier of management. Ms. Weathers discusses this with a pair of the team members, Dr. Lui Cheng (Michelle Yeoh) and Dr. Simon Ziegler (Toby Jones), and in the process demonstrates that she is in Mandarin and that the Corporation is extremely concerned that our findings are certain to be accepted and acted upon immediately.

Most scientists have become emotionally attached to Morgan having been with her since her birth five years ago. The modifications made to the genetic structure allowed for accelerated maturation as well as enhanced strength and agility. The team member that formed the closest bond Morgan was a favorite handler, Dr. Amy Menser (Rose Leslie). Amy is extremely fixated on Morgan and has lost all objectivity no longer able to see Morgan as the product of an experiment or the property of the company. The teams cook, Skip Vronsky (Boyd Holbrook), has developed a crush on Lee although it is entirely unrequited. One of the aspects of this movie that sets above all others in the genre is how the screenwriter, Seth W. Owen, establishes the characters as fully formed human beings. Having their motivations driven by strong emotional attachments such as those between Amy and Morgan all the one-sided attraction exhibited by Skip hopes to bring the characters off the screen allowing the audience to relate on an emotional level with them. It also allows the audience to have some initially undefined uneasy feelings about the. She appears to forceful emotional responses to some extent. Everything about her is calculated including how she relates to the team members. Inserting such detail as this into the narrative provided a platform for nuances in the performance and subtleties to the basic storyline.

I strongly suspect that many of the negative comments applied to this film were a result of the very deliberate pacing of the story unfolds in a carefully crafted fashion. The story punctuated with deliberately placed seas exhibiting more action than most of the movie. A substantial number of science fiction films are exceptionally fast-paced quickly pulling the audience into the world created by the story connecting them to the characters. In contrast, this film meticulously constructed which is quite impressive considering it is the author's first attempt at a feature-length film. The same can be said of the director, Luke Scott, whose previous credits consists of one short film in a single television episode 1999. This film provided a showcase for his burgeoning style many scenes of the natural environment surrounding the facility juxtaposed to the hubris of the scientists that they had to tamper with the fundamental order of nature. A better appreciation of this movie might be had by devotees of independent film, able to recognize this sheer dedication to the artistic expression of cinema manifested by most indie filmmakers. With a budget of an estimated $8 million this movie is on the low end of the spectrum financing a science fiction film. It is evident that the people involved in this film, on both sides of the camera, were there for the artistic experience rather than to create some box office. Kate Mara is an impressive young actress with the ability to take on an eclectic rain of characters. Recently she has been an integral part of such grammatically intense successful series as ‘House of Cards’ and ‘American Horror Story.' She has also demonstrated the dedication to nurturing her abilities by assuming supporting roles in some films such as ‘The Martian’ and ‘Iron Man 2’. It is reassuring to see an actor more concerned with gaining experience the bread and name placed on the poster.

As previously mentioned, Anya Taylor-Joy is still in the process of establishing her nascent career as an actor. It is evident that she is particular about the roles she takes indicating a combination of excellent judgment and thoughtful management. The performance here is just especially captivating when you realize that the character of Morgan’s synthetic and emotional responses is contrived. This actress achieves this effect with such ease and panache that you forget the artificial nature of her character so that when the dénouement arrives, it provides a delightful surprise. This film is an example of a theme made famous by author Anthony Burgess in his novel that made into a film by Stanley Kubrick, ‘A Clockwork Orange.' referring to the imposition of an artificial, mechanical interaction with its environment placed upon a natural and organic system, like placing clockwork and an orange. Morgan represents the epitome of humanities universe in the face of the overwhelming power of nature. The scientists can splice genes, create synthetic DNA sequences, tailor an organism to their design specifications. Ultimately the most and human character within this movie is the amoral company tampering with living creatures to maximize their profits.

bulletModified Organism: The Science Behind Morgan
bulletDeleted Scenes
bulletLOOM Short Film with Optional Commentary by Director Luke Scott.
bulletDirector's Audio Commentary

Posted 12/21/2016

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