morgan PHOTO

This movie is Ex Machina for dummies. It’s a shame, because we’re given a great cast. It’s a writer/director doing his first film (Luke Scott, son of Ridley). He should’ve watched his dad’s brilliant Blade Runner again; or perhaps, he’s watched it too many times.

Ridley’s film is perhaps the most derivative picture I’ve seen this year. There are times you’ll think of Silence of the Lambs, A.I., Hanna, and Splice. Well, and about eight other movies I’m not recalling.

Instead of asking probing questions about artificial intelligence, it becomes just another B-movie thriller.

The premise (or what I can tell you without spoiling) involves a bioengineering experiment with synthetic DNA to create a human. She’s highly intelligent, and as we see from the opening scene — highly dangerous. She gets a little ticked off at Jennifer Jason Leigh, and stabs her eye out.

Morgan (Anya Taylor-Joy) looks evil, but again, that might be because she takes out eyeballs. It might also be because she always wears a hoodie, and never smiles. It’s like Scott felt having a menacing look on her face, would have us wondering what she was plotting next in her brilliant mind. Instead, I just wondered why they didn’t leave her in the Hannibal Lecter cage. What is baffling is this. There’s a team of doctors and scientists working with her, and all of them are so protective. So when a snotty psychiatrist (Paul Giamatti) waltzes in to examine her, we’re pretty sure things will go south. It’s at that point I can’t take any more holes in this story.

For example, Giamatti could’ve gotten the same results in a much more clever manner. And, why after Morgan appears to be dangerous, do these scientists still want to treat her like it’s their daughter? I’m guessing if your pet pit bull got loose and ate three kids on the block, you’d feel less bothered by the animal shelter putting the dog down.

Since a shady corporation is behind this project, we can assume they aren’t making love dolls like Oscar Isaac was in Ex Machina. That’s why they’re concerned about this latest incident, and they send it a troubleshooter that will clean up messes better than Mr. Wolf in Pulp Fiction. Lee Weathers (Kate Mara) shows up, doesn’t seem to like what she’s seeing, and deems a termination of Morgan imminent.

It’s strange that the audience doesn’t feel much sympathy for Morgan. We get a few glimpses at her “childhood.” She’s out by a brook, enjoying nature. So what. We need more to sympathize with her. Not just a creepy looking girl that if you give her the stink eye, will take yours.

We also don’t know anything about the various characters, other than each one seems to feel like this is their child.

The only character you’ll like is Skip the cook (Boyd Holbrook). He tries to make moves on Lee Weathers. How could you not with a name like “Lee Weathers” and half a bottle of bourbon consumed?

His heart seems to be in the right place and for being a mere cook, he seems to be the only one in this remote location making good decisions.

I did like the look of the setting. It’s an old style manor, looking like a crumbling haunted house. It’s surrounded by a forest, and has a lot of hidden, underground labs. Yet again, coming off the incredible location we had for Ex Machina, this pales in comparison.

The movie is predictable, utterly ridiculous, and nobody other than teenagers will enjoy it.

It gets 1 ½ stars out of 5.

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