Blu-ray Review “Morgan”

Starring: Rose Leslie, Kate Mara, Anya Taylor-Joy, Paul Giamatti, Boyd Holbrook, Toby Jones
Director: Luke Scott
Rated: R
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: December 13, 2016
Run Time: 92 minutes

Film: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

“Morgan” is a film that probably seemed better on paper. It has a talented cast for sure but is just poorly executed. This film marks, Ridley Scott’s son Luke’s, first time directing. Kate Mara, and Paul Giamatti feel lost here honestly. The story is rather bland and not as interesting as it would be. Plus it seems to steal too much from films like “Ex Machina” and “Species”.

Official Premise: Inside a remote, top-secret lab, a group of scientists are working on an experiment that is leading the way for the next steps in human evolution. But when the experiment’s subject – a genetically designed “human” (Anya Taylor-Joy) – triggers a terrifying event, those involved must decide if the promise of infinite potential outweighs the incalculable danger.

Fox is delivering this as a combo pack with Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD included. Slipcover as well, housing the set. The 1080p transfer in 2.39:1 looks solid and works with the sci-fi aspect. The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 does the job for sure and sounds great doing it. The special features are light but the short film “Loom” is honestly awesome and wish it would have transferred better to feature.

The first extra included is “Modified Organism: The Science Behind Morgan”, which runs about 20 minutes and dives into the scientific side of the films concepts. There are a few deleted scenes included with optional commentary by Luke Scott, who also gives in a gives us an audio commentary track. The short film “Loom”, like I mentioned about is a kick-ass intro to this. Lastly there is a gallery and trailers included.

Film Review: “Morgan”

Starring: Kate Mara, Anya Taylor-Joy and Toby Jones
Directed By: Luke Scott
Rated: R
Running Time: 92 minutes
20th Century Fox

Our Score 1.5 out of 5 Stars

Sometimes when I watch something so promising, and filled with so much talent, I wonder if I genuinely missed something when I walk out not liking it. “Morgan” features veteran talents like Paul Giamatti, Ridley Scott as producer, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and a script that made 2014’s Blacklist (a list of the best unproduced scripts currently floating around Hollywood). So here I am a week removed from watching “Morgan” and I think to myself, I didn’t miss anything. It’s a bad movie.

Anya Taylor-Joy (someone who’s bound to get an Oscar nominating performance one of these days) is stuck as the science experiment gone wrong, Morgan. The five-year-old, by human years, is actually around 18-by-whatever-made-up-logic-this-movie-makes-years-old. She’s the end result of a human embryo breeding project. She’s birthed with some of the best genes out there as well as a couple of super human capabilities that are never really explained. After a month, Morgan is able to walk and talk. After a couple of years, she’s a self-sufficient preteen with a childlike wonder about the world. After five years, she’s capable of inflicting bodily harm on her creators and show signs of deep hatred. And after Morgan stabs a scientist in the eye for no apparent reason, it’s time to bring in the corporate business suits.

“Morgan” has the capability to deliver a message about cloning, the inability to understand raw human emotions, and eugenics, but instead focuses more on visual technique. “Morgan” ends up being all style with no substance. The groundwork is there as we watch sterile and emotionless scientists suddenly become parents, growing up and watching Morgan’s guileless nature. Then we watch as the parental instinct kicks in when the scientists try to understand and defend Morgan’s growing sociopathy. She may be a monster, but she’s their monster. Another missed theme is how corporate culture looks at the numbers more than the human impact, but I digress because this movie failed on all thematic levels.

But even as the movie slowly falls apart, “Morgan” still has one final chance to deliver upon any resemblance of meaning behind its script. The writers, producers, and director, fail to give anything outside slick visuals, bruising action sequences, and a disquieting environment for its characters. The third act of the movie turns out to be more of an experiment in forbearance as the twist of the movie slowly gets unraveled. Although I figured out the twist about 30 minutes in while another critic I spoke to after the movie figured it out five minutes in. I guess even M. Night Shyamalan could recognize “Morgan” has a bad twist.

It’s really unfortunate watching Taylor-Joy get generously applied with Dave Chappelle white face make-up and play in one of the more frustrating creature features in recent memory. Taylor-Joy popped up on the scene earlier this year in “The Witch” and has a lot of talent waiting to be displayed. She does a fine job relaying Morgan’s genuine wonder and empathy, while balancing Morgan’s uncharacteristic murder streak. Taylor-Joy does all this well, but it’s hard to piece together the mind of her character when the movie continuously jumps back and forth between Morgan’s personalities.

It doesn’t help that the movie states she’s only five, despite having the mind and body of a full blown teenager. Is she a test tube bred deadly assassin battling teenage hormones with the id of a child progressing too quickly into an adult world that she has no comprehension of? If so, why is this experiment worth anything to anyone, especially a company? Those are questions no one making this film ever thought to ask and inherently asking that question gives away the movie’s twist.

Just like its character, “Morgan” lacks any growth, meaning, or excitement. Whenever the movie gets close to developing a theme or message, it reverts back to finding meaning behind violence like a Kindergartener throwing a temper tantrum, frustrated that it couldn’t find a way to expel upon its interesting premise. If this is the final movie of the summer, the summer certainly goes out on an uncreative whimper.

Sevendust's Morgan Rose talks about new album "Black Out the Sun"

Morgan Rose is the drummer and a founding member of the heavy metal group Sevendust. The Atlanta, GA group formed in 1997 and have since released eight studio albums and toured the word over playing their own unique version of melody infused metal. The bands ninth studio titled “Black Out the Sun” will be released in March of this year and Media Mikes had the chance to talk with Morgan about the release and the bands touring plans.

Adam Lawton: What can we expect from the new album?
Morgan Rose: For me personally I think it is my favorite record. Usually when you finish a new record it tends to be your favorite. This was the first time we went in with no expectations and wrote from scratch. We wrote this as a band instead of people coming in chunks of material or fully written pieces. We weren’t going to be second guessing ourselves and we took our time. The record is pretty raw but at the same time the feedback I have gotten so far is that it sounds like old Sevendust.  We didn’t reinvent the wheel but we did semi-reinvent our band.

AL: Did you enjoy working as a group more so than everyone bringing in various pieces?
MR: I liked doing it that way. There have been times when Clint or someone brings in a riff and we would lay some sample beats on top of that. If I end up liking those 80% of my job is done. (Laughs) Other times if I am not completely sold on something I at least have the idea in my head and can go from there. I get excited working both ways. It just really depends on how things play out. We have done everything from me saying a drum part to having Clint show me how to program things as I am a Dinosaur when it comes to that stuff.

AL: With band taking a year off was it hard to get things going again?
MR: Not really. We did change the start date a few times of when we were going to start on the album. Things started off a little strange as we weren’t all ready at the same time. We all have our own lives and Sevendust is a priority but everyone was sort of moving on with other things. It took a little bit to get everyone to agree on a date. Once we did everything went perfect.  The year off did wonders for us. I don’t think anyone really enjoyed the idea of taking a year off but it ended up being a great decision.

AL: Have you guys thought about doing any videos for songs of the new album?
MR: We actually just did one. We shot a video for the song “Decay”. The gods were definitely not trying to let us do that video. I have no idea how we actually got it done. We had to cut our rehearsal schedule short, things cost more than expected, we had some really mysterious weather then there were delays at the airport among other things. Everything was pointing to us not doing the video but we pulled it off. I think it’s going to turn out amazing when it’s all done. We shot it in this 1800’s mansion that I am sure is haunted as shit! The video is sort of based around things that haunt each of the band members. Mine happened to be women. I enjoyed filming my portion of the video quite a bit.

AL: You and Clint did some of the producing on the album. What is the hardest part for you when producing your own band?
MR: There are many different facets to producing. I have dealt with so many things and liked little pieces of each one. There’s producers who get their hands dirty and help with songwriting and things and there are guys who help keep the peace when members get amped up. Then you have guys that are sonically amazing but they couldn’t tell you how they do it. The hardest part when we are doing it is your kind of the boss in a sense. You are putting your trust in someone to make a record according to what your vision is. We have been together for 20 years and we don’t have a boss in this band. People think we have a boss there is not. Everyone has certain roles they take on. When we get in a room together we all have a say but someone does have to take lead. At times things can get testy but we didn’t have any problems this time around.

AL: Can you tell us about the bands upcoming tour with Coal Chamber?
MR: Right now we are out on tour with Lacuna Coil and Avatar which has been great. Once we wrap up with that we hit the road with Lacuna Coil and Coal Chamber. That tour will start towards the end of March. We will be doing shows before then but that line up won’t start until late March. We had some shows in Australia with Devil Driver and Dez Fafara and I were hanging out and he mentioned that he was thinking of doing some Coal Chamber shows. He told me that if they are planning on doing shows in America then the right thing to do would be to do them together.  I was all for that! Things took a little while as Devil Driver tours really hard but this is going to be massive. I think a lot of people are going to be in to it. I think the tour is going to make people scratch their heads.

AL: Do you have any other projects going on right now that you can tell us about?
MR:  I produced an album for a band called Devise. I don’t know if they are going to stick with that name or not though. That project is going really well and I can’t wait to see the reaction of people when they hear it. Candlelight Red’s new stuff is almost done being mixed and their new single should be out very soon. I am really proud of that record. When I get a little bit of free time I am sure me and Clint will be doing some dates with Call Me No One. As we get older I don’t know how much longer we will continue touring. I don’t see us stopping anytime soon but I don’t think I am going to be 60 out here playing like this. I keep dabbling in stuff to see what I could do next. We are just going to be really busy this year.

Morgan Fairchild talks about Syfy’s “American Horror House”

Morgan Fairchild is an actress with such a wonderful a presence in Hollywood. She has appeared in such television series as “Dallas”, “Mork & Mindy” and “Flamingo Road”. Her notable film roles are “Holy Man”, “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” and “Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2”, where she all played herself. She is also stars in the Syfy original movie “American Horror House”, which premieres Saturday, October 13 at 9:00 p.m. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with the beautiful and sweet Morgan Fairchild about her this Syfy film and how she prepares for a role.

Mike Gencarelli: What about the role intrigued you to want to be a part of Syfy’s “American Horror House”?
Morgan Fairchild: Well I must confess I’m quite a devotee of the Syfy movie channel. I mean I watch Syfy movies on the weekends. And all my friends have done them, so it was quite fun. And they sent me the script and I thought well, you know, this is actually fun. I could do this. You know, I don’t have to get chopped up or anything too gruesome. She also does have a history with the house and that’s part of figuring out here history with the house is, is a big part of the story, of trying to understand what’s going on as the girls are confronted with different odd happenings in the house as to why they’re happening and what’s really going on there.

MG: Does working on a project like “American Horror House” somehow take you back to earlier in your career doing projects like “The Haunting of Sarah Hardy”?
MF: Well it takes me even further back to “Initiation of Sarah”, which was actually my first TV movie — which was also a haunted sorority house. So yes it goes way back.

MG: Can you talk a bit about how your character Ms. Margot fits into the story?
MF: Well like a lot of the characters I play, she’s sort of the catalyst. The bad guy is always the catalyst. So she’s not unlike some of the other characters I’ve played except that she does seem to just be pure evil.

MG: Is there anything then you found challenging about your role?
MF: You know, they’re always challenging. From Ms. Margot the thing was I didn’t want to tip it too early that she is actually a bad guy because at first she seems sort of supportive house mother kind of thing and sort of the normal everyday thing that a kid would encounter at college. I didn’t want to tip it too soon, so that was a bit of a challenge is just trying to find ways to play things that later people could go back and say, oh yes, I see that. But at the moment that they don’t necessarily catch on right away.

MG: Do you have any kind of technique that you use to for when you approach a role?
MF: Well I do sort of the basic thing everybody does, you know, that they teach you from the Day 1 — which is break it down, break down who is this character, what do they want, where do they come from, what is their background, where are they trying to go, what are they trying to get out of this. so it’s all that kind of basic thing. Then again it’s a very focus of energy. I’m a big Bruce Lee fan. And Rudolf Nureyev for some of you who may not know Rudolf Nureyev was probably one of the best ballet dancers of the 20th century. And watching him on stage with the focus of energy was just an amazing thing the way he controlled the stage. Back in ’73 I’d been living in New York and I went home for the summer for a visit to my mom. Mom always wanted to do anything that was hot in New York. So I said, “Mom, these kung-fu movies are just the hottest things on 42nd Street, so we’ll go to a kung-fu movie.” Well and saw kind of this Bruce Lee movie, Enter the Dragon, it opens with a scene in the Shaolin Temple with Bruce Lee just like stripped to, you know, his skivvies and I was just fascinated with the focus of energy — the total focus of Chi. I watched the whole movie and he’s just brilliant. If he had lived, he would just have been such a major star because of this focus of energy. When the camera is on him, you cannot take your eyes off of him. When Nureyev was on the stage, you could not take your eyes off of him. You know, the poor little corps de ballet dancers would be dancing their hearts out and he would be standing with his back to you and you’re watching him instead of these poor little girls dancing. That was what sort of inspired me again to spend 4-1/2 years taking kung-fu in Chinatown in New York. I mean even when I was doing Search for Tomorrow, I remember one day I was sitting there watching something in the control room and it was summer and I had one of my little Danskin things on and one of the guys came up behind and said, “Morgan, did you know you have dimples in your back, because they would kick your ass, honey.” Down there in Chinatown and I would take the subway to go down there and pick my ways over bodies on the Bowery. This is back when bodies on the Bowery really were there. And it was a little scary going to and from class. But, you know, 4-1/2 years until I moved out here I was there like five, six nights a week as much as I could get in. So yes that’s what I do. That’s part of it is because to play a good bad guy especially you have to have that focus of energy.

MG: What it was like to shoot in Louisiana? Did that add to the tone of the film at all?
MF: It was just fabulous shooting there. Everybody was so friendly and so nice. And we were shooting in April mostly before it got too hot, so I wasn’t dying there. And I’m from Texas, so I know what dying in the heat means. So it was fabulous and got to go down to Jazz Fest and go down to New Orleans a bit and see a bit of the countryside and it was just great.

MG: Can you tell us a little bit about working with the director Darin Scott?
MF: Darin was just fabulous to work with. He was so sweet and low key. And I mean I’ve worked some real screamers in my life, you know, who you never have a moment of peace on the set. And Darin is very low key, very patient with everything, very on top of all the technical stuff that was going on — which we had a lot of in this movie — and just a lot of fun to talk to and sit around at lunch. We became friends just sitting around and gabbing at the lunch breaks and on breaks and stuff and talking everything from politics to old Hollywood stories.

MG: You have had a great career in both TV and film. Have you ever preferred one to another?
MF: Well they’re all just very different and you forget also that I grew up in the theater. So I mean do a lot of theater whenever I can still and did a staged reading of a play this summer and did a big national tour of The Graduate in ’05 and have done big national tours of like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, have done Broadway, off Broadway. So they’re all very different. They’re all very different in the way you focus your energy — which is really what the difference between stage acting and film acting is. Then film acting is usually it’s also very different because of the size of the format. How you focus your energy is to me one of the most interesting things about it.

MG: Last question and off-topic, now that Dallas is back on the air, I was wondering if you would be interested at all in reprising the role you originated of Jenna Wade?
MF: Well sure. I mean I’d always be interested. Originally just socially a couple of people in charge over there had sort of reached out to me and asked me the same question. But I’ve never heard back from them sort of following up and deciding to put Jenna back in it with me or Priscilla, so I don’t know what their thinking is. I’m just happy just Larry and Patrick and Linda all working away again in those great parts again. They’re all friends, you know, so I’m just always happy to see people working and working in fun, wonderful parts.

Emma Fuhrmann talks about working with Morgan Freeman & Rob Reiner in “The Magic of Belle Island”

Emma Fuhrmann stars opposite Morgan Freeman in the upcoming Rob Reiner film “The Magic of Belle Island”. Media Mikes had the chance to talk with Emma recently about her role in the film.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about the film “The Magic of Belle Island”?
Emma Fuhrmann: The film is about Morgan Freeman’s character Monty who moves in next door to where my family lives. My character becomes very intrigued by Monty and seeks his help with a few things. In the end our lives are changed by happens over the course of the summer. It’s about our journey together.

AL: Can you tell us a little more about your role?
EF: My character’s name is Finnegan O’Neil. She is the middle daughter in a family with three girls. She is sort of the tom boy type and likes to be outside.

AL: What was it that interested you in the role?
EF: My agent had sent me the script and after reading it I thought the character would be cool to play. I live in Texas so I ended up doing a video audition. Around 2 or 3 weeks later I got a call from my agent saying that Rob wanted to see me. I flew to New York and a couple hours after the audition while waiting in the airport I found out I was offered the role.

AL: What was your first response when you found out you had gotten the role?
EF: I wanted to scream but I couldn’t scream because I was in the airport. I just started crying.

AL: What was it like working with Morgan and Rob?
EF: It was such an amazing experience. Everyone was so nice. I remember one day Rob and Morgan were singing all these songs together and it was really funny. They were actually really good singers.

AL: Was there anything difficult about the role?
EF: I had to yell at Morgan in one of the scene and it seemed kind of weird that I was yelling at Morgan Freeman. The rest of the scenes were pretty easy as I am a little like my character.

AL: What do you think you learned from working on this film?
EF: I learned a lot from watching Morgan. He would stay in character all of the time even when we weren’t shooting. He played his character so well. I learned that it’s important to always stay in character. It’s help a lot. It was really fun watching those guys work.

Marduk’s Morgan Steinmeyer Hakansson gives a sneak peek about new album

Morgan Steinmeyer Hakansson is the guitarist/ founding member of the legendary black metal group Marduk. The band is set to release it’s 12th studio album titled “Serpent Sermon” in early June of this year. Media Mikes had a chance to talk with Morgan about the bands history and what we can expect from the group’s latest offering.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us a brief history of the band?
Morgan Steinmeyer Hakansson: It can be tough to sum up a 22 year career. We started in 1990 wanting to push the limits of what was being done at that time. We have our 12th studio album coming out this month to add to the other albums and DVD’s we have put out. We have been spreading our message across most parts of the world for quite some time now. We just keep marching all over.

AL: Did you ever envision a 20+ year career with the band?
MSH: The same time we started the band we were expanding and getting more into what we were doing. Things around us were also expanding. We were pushing the limits of what had been done previously and while doing so we realized there were no limits. We just kept going with making our visions come to life. Over time we started to see things in a broader way. That kept us going.

AL: Other than the bands lineup changes. Have you noticed any other changes in the band?
MSH: Not really. Music has always been written in a variety of different ways. Nothing comes to you the same way as another. Sometimes we can base a whole album of a single title. We go where things take us.

AL: How would you describe the band’s new album “Serpent Sermon”?
MSH: I think it is a very good reflection of the band in 2012. This album has everything an extreme heavy metal album should have. The last few albums we have done have been very focused around the themes of death and decay. This album is a return to the diabolical decent of what black metal really is about. This album is I think maybe more focused on that than the previous 2 release. I think the title really speaks for the whole album. We really had a vision behind this album and want people to know the meaning of the album’s title.

AL: Are there video plans for any of the albums tracks?
MSH: We just finished a shoot for the track “Souls of Belial”. I think it will start airing the beginning of May. We have a few things left to finalize but I think this video is a good reflection of the spirit of the song.

AL: What are the exact release plans for the album?
MSH: I think it is coming out in Europe around the 29th or 30th of May and in the States during the first week of June. There is about a week difference between the release dates across the world.

AL: What are the tour plans for the album?
MSH: We are still on the process of finalizing everything. There will be a lot of dates being announced shortly. The plan is to start around May 11th. The tour is going to take us to places like Russia and Siberia. From there we will hit Puerto Rico, the United States and Canada before returning to Europe at the end of June. We have some festival dates in the works as well as a headlining European tour. The headlining tour will be around 40 dates. It’s going to be intense!