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Morgan (4K UHD)
Release Date(s)2016 (December 13, 2016)
Studio(s)Scott Free (20th Century Fox)
Lee Weathers (Kate Mara) is risk-management consultant for high technology firm, sent to a remote lab where a team of scientists has been working to create a synthetic human being. Grown from an infant and now five years old, but appearing teenaged, Morgan (Anya Taylor-Joy) is grappling with her/its emotions and has lately begun to experience rather ominous “mistakes.” Weathers’ task is to determine whether project and product are still viable from a cost-benefit standpoint… or need to be terminated.
One of a recent wave of high-concept sci-fi films, Morgan tries hard to be compelling and, to its credit, succeeds a bit better than most such efforts. Unfortunately, rather than really exploring its premise in depth, the film takes exactly the turns you expect it to and telegraphs its twists way too early. Despite a surprisingly good supporting cast (which includes Toby Jones, Paul Giamatti, Rose Leslie, Michelle Yeoh, Brian Cox, and Jennifer Jason Leigh), the film also fails to make more than a half-hearted effort to flesh-out its characters. Angsty, pained expressions do not equal depth and humanity, thus it’s hard to really care about any of these people when things go south. The film certainly looks good though, which you’d expect given that the director is Ridley Scott’s son.
Fox presents the film on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with a lovely, if upsampled, image in the original 2.39:1 aspect ratio. Morgan was shot digitally using Arri Alexa XT cameras and appears to have been finished to a 2K DI, which must have been for cost reasons as there isn’t an overabundance of VFX here. Detail is quite good, with nice texturing, deep blacks, and lightly glowing highlights. Much of the film takes place in gloomy, shadowy environments, yet there’s a nice amount of detail present. Where the image really shines, however, is in its color grading. The choices made for High Dynamic Range are intriguing. Colors are desaturated just a bit, which adds a coolness to the image, and yet most of the hues that have been desaturated were warm to start – browns, greens, golds, yellows. It gives the image, and thus the film itself, an interesting tone; the illusion of vibrancy and naturalness without actually depicting either. Sound is available in a standard English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix that’s quite good, offering a wonderful sense of subtle ambience and immersion. Additional audio options include English 5.1 Descriptive Audio, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, and French, Castilian Spanish, German, and Italian 5.1 DTS. Subtitles are available in English SDH and several other languages.
The only extra on the 4K disc is an audio commentary with director Luke Scott (there are subtitles in several languages for this too). Unfortunately, the track is not particularly good or insightful. Scott’s comments have a strange sort of fanboy-ish quality. He spends much of the track narrating what’s happening on screen, talking about how great everyone was to work with, and/or admiring how cool his own work is. It’s kind of weird, honestly, though as Morgan is his first major directing effort one supposes it’s understandable.
The package also includes a regular Blu-ray Disc with the film in HD and the following additional extras (also in HD):
- Modified Organism: The Science Behind Morgan (19:40)
- Deleted Scenes (5 scenes – 6:03 in all) with optional commentary by Scott
- Loom (Short Film) (20:27) with optional commentary by Scott
- Gallery (3:38)
- Trailers (2 trailers – 4:07 in all)
Loom is the best of the lot. It stars Giovanni Ribisi and is actually somewhat interesting, though it has a very obvious Blade Runner vibe. Note that the package includes a Digital HD copy code on a paper insert too.
Morgan covers much the same ground as Ex Machina did last year, though its story and resolution are far more predictable and less satisfying. Still, at just ninety-two minutes, it’s short enough, pretty enough (especially with HDR), and mildly interesting enough to be worth a look if you appreciate this genre.
- Bill Hunt