“Megan Leavey”

LOUISA: 4 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

Animal lovers, get those Kleenex ready: the true life story of a U.S. Marine and her bomb-sniffing hero dog has been given the big screen treatment in the biopic “Megan Leavey.” This is a touching, uplifting story about companionship, devotion, and the lifelong friendship that develops from a mutual respect between a human and her animal.

Megan Leavey (Kate Mara, in a heartfelt and earnest performance) is a young Marine who, after a night of drinking and conduct unbecoming a soldier, is punished by being assigned to kennel cleaning duty in the military’s K9 unit. Eventually she is put in charge of training Rex, an extremely aggressive German Shepard. The two find that they both needed a little discipline and grow to understand each other.

Soon after, Megan is suddenly deployed to Iraq with her combat canine to sniff out bombs. (In real life, the pair completed more than 100 missions). When an IED explosion injures both of them, Megan is sent back home and Rex is assigned to a new trainer — but she won’t give up until she can adopt Rex and bring him home to live out the final years of his life with her.

It’s a fantastic true tale that’ll be a surefire hit with animal lovers (and women too), but it’s also something audiences rarely see: a military drama with great warmth. It’s not political, it’s not religious (as so many military movies are nowadays) — it’s just a good, old fashioned, all-American story.

There are some heavy undertones present, like the brief mention of PTSD that’s suffered by our soldiers of both the two legged and four legged variety, but the movie never gets too serious and instead chooses to go the uplifting route. Criticize that if you want, but the story is well told and stirring, and it manages to avoid the trap of launching into a sappy, overly melodramatic, clichéd mess. Yes, Megan “finds herself” by finding love and a special bond with her dog, but nothing about Gabriela Cowperthwaite‘s direction or Pamela Gray‘s script feels hollow or hokey.

The performances radiate the utmost sincerity. I found myself fully invested in all of the characters, including Bradley Whitford and Edie Falco as Megan’s estranged parents, Common as her military boss, and Tom Felton and Ramon Rodriguez as two fellow soldiers.

Regardless of how you feel about our military, this movie will give you the highest respect for our servicemen and women and it may even make you want to stand up and cheer. And animal lovers: don’t forget those Kleenex.

“Morgan”

LOUISA:  1.5 STARS MATT: 2 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

The cold, generic and completely forgettable film “Morgan” is a pretty pitiful excuse for a science fiction ‘thriller.’ Even the lame twist ending (itself quickly predictable from the get-go) can’t save the film’s previous 90 minutes of lackluster exposition.

Corporate troubleshooter Lee Weathers (Kate Mara) is sent to a top secret location deep in the woods to investigate a violent incident and assess the danger of a lab created semi-human, Morgan (Anya Taylor-Joy). When their Frankenstein creation escapes, all hell breaks loose. Lee meets resistance from resident scientists and bunker staff Amy (Rose Leslie), Ted (Michael Yare), Skip (Boyd Holbrook), Simon (Toby Jones) and Cheng (Michelle Yeoh), a crowded acting field of folks that aren’t given much of anything to do except stare into space and repeatedly ask “where’s Morgan?”

This is a disappointing, dull movie with lackluster dialogue and completely wooden, robotic performances from all of the actors (Paul Giamatti being the sole exception, but who doesn’t love to watch him yell and cause a ruckus on screen)? This could’ve been a smart thriller with thoughtful themes, a movie with something important to say if only it had a better script and a better vision. I stopped caring before the film neared its halfway point.

There’s really not much to say about this boring movie because not much happens. It’s a one sentence plot that’s drawn out to craft a feature length movie. This whole exercise made me long for last year’s far better sci-fi gal in the glass box movie, “Ex Machina.” It’s unfair to compare the two because “Morgan” isn’t intelligent at all and relies mostly on violence and cheap horror tricks to keep viewers interested. Any attempt at suspense is squandered and the overall lack of storytelling ability from director Luke Scott (yes, Ridley’s son) is astounding. Don’t waste your time or money on this one.

MATT SAYS:

Artificial intelligence and genetic engineering are tools to achieve profit and increase returns in “Morgan”, the new film from director Luke Scott (son of Sir Ridley).

Sometimes timing helps movies; sometimes it hurts them. “Morgan” has been released in the shadow of the massive cult hit “Stranger Things,” and having watched the trailer for “Morgan” repeatedly over the summer, the comparison is unavoidable. As we learn in the trailers, Morgan is a genetic experiment that has been engineered in a secret lab somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. When Morgan (a fast-aging female) starts to experiment with the powers that come with her genetic mutations, profits and humanity are put at risk. It is up to corporate risk management consultant Lee Weathers (Kate Mara) to stop Morgan and save the company.

“Morgan” is a strictly by-the-numbers techno-thriller. There’s not much new or exciting in the film, and not much worthy of remembering or discussing. That’s not to say it’s bad — it’s not — but it’s not really worth your time, either.