Thursday, October 20, 2016

Horror Movie Mini-Reviews: Morgan and The Raven

* Morgan

Morgan is a completely engineered being. She looks human and can act human, but the company who owns her call her "it" and treat her as property. When she stabs a woman in anger, a risk assessment specialist is called in to see if she should be terminated. I figured this film would be a lot like a watered down Ex Machina or Splice, but it surprised me. A lot of the typical science fiction tropes are there, but with some surprises thrown in. First, I expected a sterile, white lab, but scientific team stays in an old mansion where they live regular lives outside of the lab. I expected the people to be clinical and emotionless, but they were normal people who loved Morgan like a daughter. They have been with her since birth and have seen her grow up. I liked how the people who most closely take care of her view her as a person and fight as hard as they can to keep her alive.

Morgan is the most stereotypical character of the film. Her actions are pretty predictable and completely unsurprising. It's disappointing that the concept that she might actually be human was never really entertained. She's not really an android but apparently not really human either. This was the weakest concept of the film since she's just an engineered person to me. She should have rights and privileges of any person. The ending was a bit of a surprise. I suspected it early in the film, but I didn't think it would actually go in that direction. I wish the film was just a little more unique. The trappings and settings were refreshing plus the interesting twist at the end, but at its core it was still formulaic.

My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins

* The Raven

Fiery and passionate Edgar Allan Poe is outraged by his lack of success and makes no secret of insulting his competition and his critics. When those same people he hates start dying in ways he wrote about in his gothic tales, he is the top of the suspect list and forced to clear his name by helping the police catch the real murderer. The Raven is an unexpectedly enjoyable film that melds true events of Poe's life with a fictional murder mystery. John Cusak plays Poe over the top with egotism, arrogance, indulgence in his vices, and a romantic side. I appreciated the decision to avoid sanitizing his character or making him into a one dimensional hero. He still works as hard as he can to stop the killer and regrets the use of his stories in this situation.

The film is surprisingly romantic, focusing much of the film on Poe's relationship with Emily. Emily's father makes no secret of his hatred for Poe, but that doesn't deter him at all. Their romance is sweet and clandestine with some playful disagreements and banter back and forth. I was surprised that Emily was portrayed as more intelligent and capable than I expected. It was a refreshing departure from genre tropes. The delightfully gruesome murders bring to life Poe's stories as I've never seen. Some of the murders were based on stories I wasn't familiar with and sparked my interest in reading more of Poe's work. The Raven has twists and turns to keep you guessing with good performances, suspense, and a fun mix of fact and fiction.

My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins

1 comment:

Kathryn Troy said...

I love that you called these things put for unoriginality. It's so important that artists and producers realize that people don't always want just more of the same, bit that are expectation is that they will exceed those expectations. Great job standing up for creativity!