Why are we fascinated with creating new life?

Review: Morgan

(MA) Kate Mara, Anya Taylor-Joy

Lee Weathers (Kate Mara) is a corporate trouble shooter who has been given a unique case. The corporation she represents has significant interest in a secluded group of scientists. Their research has implications that will have a far-reaching impact on the future of the corporation and they have a problem. In their seven years of work, this speciality trained group has worked to create a humanoid from genetically manipulated DNA. After several trials, they successfully bring Morgan (Anya Taylor-Joy) to life. The ambiguous humanoid has the capacity to develop faster physically and has accelerated cognitive skills, as well as super-human strength. In the five years since Morgan was brought into the world, it seems to be responsive to the team and has adapted well to the surrounding environment. Then one day this synthetic life form attacks one of the members of the scientists without known cause, but is kept alive for assessment by the team and the corporate office. Ms Weathers must quickly evaluate the situation, determine the mindset of this insular group and decide on the fate of Morgan.

What could possibly go wrong?

From Frankenstein to 2015’s Ex-Machina, artificial life forms have been a fascination of filmmakers through the decades. Luke Scott (Son of Bladerunner’s Ridley Scott) attempts to deliver something new with his creation, Morgan.

The characters will seem familiar to fans of the sci-fi horror, but with some fresh twists: The caring scientist-creator, the over-zealous behaviourist, the misogynist psychologist, the unemotional corporate investigator and the misunderstood created being.

The opening sequences deliver promise, due to the superb performances from the cast. Their protective nature, parental defensiveness of Morgan and the pride they have in their work does get in the way of the investigation and builds the necessary tension of this thriller. The intensity escalates throughout the first half of the film, but fizzles out in the second half. Given a relatively inventive set up, it was disappointing that it turns into a less than satisfactory conclusion.

It is an injustice that Luke Scott has gathered this stellar cast and leaves them with such lifeless direction. With actors like Toby Jones, Paul Giamatti, Jennifer Jason-Leigh, and Michelle Yeoh, the assumption would be that he would merely have to dip a finger into this amazing talent pool and pull out a winning result.

Mara and Taylor-Joy are excused for delivering plasticine performances, but Giamatti and Jones are left with nothing to do within the storyline and the rest of the cast turn into predictable caricatures we’ve seen in many other films.

Morgan begins with promise, but loses its way toward its conclusion and leaves this creation comatose on the table.

What are some of the bigger questions to consider from this film?

Why are we fascinated with creating new life? For some it is a means of proving their intelligence, for others it might be exerting their power and for many it is merely a curiosity that must be explored.

One of the answers to this question can be found in the study of the Bible. Based on the premise of the creator God who made all mankind in his image, it is no wonder that God’s creation would want to create. This desire manifests itself in art, food, clothing, housing and even into the sciences. There are a multitude of moral juxtapositions to wrestle through in this consideration of creating new life, but the very nature to create is ingrained in humanity.

The only challenge is that God continues to prove that he is the only one to get it right when it comes to the creation of humanity. So, is the desire to create new life merely a lesson in futility or too hard to deny? Discuss.

Questions

  1. What does it mean to be human? (Genesis 1:27, 2:5-25)
  2. As a creator, what was God’s purpose in creating mankind? (Isaiah 43:7, Colossians 1:16)
  3. Is God a perfect and flawless creator? (Genesis 3)

Russell Matthews works for City Bible Forum Sydney and is a film blogger




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