Ridley Scott continues to dazzle fans of the Alien franchise with a return to classic
The charm of the Alien franchise is that it can be anything. It follows suit with its beloved multifaceted creature – the Xenomorph. Alien was a suspenseful horror-sci-fi hybrid that was unlike anything before. Aliens was a full on action adventure movie that was loads of fun. Alien 3 was a shaky thriller that could have been better. Alien: Resurrection was a silly 80s-like action movie with too much on its sleeve. And Prometheus was a clear cerebral sci-fi with interesting questions. While shades of Prometheus are present, Alien: Covenant successfully merges Alien and Aliens to create an ambitious film that will please all sides of the equation.
Kate Mara and Anya Taylor-Joy can’t save the film from its inability to explore a rather interesting premise
Artificial intelligence can be a scary thing. It can also serve as an interesting cinematic idea. With Morgan, the idea is brought up as the film follows an artificially made “human” named Morgan (Anya Taylor-Joy). It, as the characters gender-it, has some emotional problems which lead to some impulsive dangerous behaviors. After a recent shocking event, an investigator (Kate Mara) is called to check on Morgan. However, before she can analyze it, the bioengineered child escape and creates terror around the lab. This sci-fi thriller is directed by first time director Luke Scott and is produced by none other than Ridley Scott.
As an actress who has been on the watch list after her breakthrough performance in The Witch, Anya Taylor-Joy has yet again solidified herself as a genuine and serious actress. Her performance discharges innocence, fragileness, and compassion while still letting the audience feel a certain uncertainty. She leaves you in distrust because of what she is capable of. As a person, you feel for her as she never intends for these horrible things to happen to people. Taylor-Joy plays Morgan as a misunderstood monster and it makes you feel for her even though the audience is clearly aware of what she is capable of.
Although, the film never stops to let the audience think about the dangers of artificial intelligence. It certainly wants you to reflect on this possibility as it explains to you in a semi-scientific way how this can all be possible, but it never lets you reflect. Instead, it opts for action and thrills. This directly influences the premise which is quite frankly wasted.
This directly influences the premise which is quite frankly wasted. They never take the time to fully commit to the idea of artificial intelligence. They try at the beginning to establish some character moments, but none of the characters are compelling to watch on screen. The movie tries to make a compelling psychological drama in the beginning only to throw everything away in the final act. What little is done to develop the plot is completely forgotten and the movie becomes a more straightforward sci-fi action.
However, the action is well captured, in fact, the whole movie looks great. The shots are crisp and eerie looking, especially the forest shots. The movie isn’t badly directed either. Ridley Scott’s son did a fantastic job directing this movie. His father’s guidance and inspiration are all present in Morgan but fail to be relevant.
This is why it’s so disappointing because Morgan could have been an excellent sci-fi movie. It could have been mentioned in the realm of Ex-Machina and 2001: Space Odyssey. While it had everything going for it technically, somehow in the process, someone forgot to make compelling characters (except for Morgan) and explore a fantastic idea. Morgan will forever be the film that could, but it also serves as a learning experience for Luke Scott who will undoubtedly follow in his father’s footsteps.