Don’t Leavey Your Tissues Behind

Leavey

 

This weekend is certainly a mixed bag of movies from adventure/fantasy to horror/mystery. So why not throw in a military/biographical/drama into the fray as well, this time portraying a different, and more realistic, female super hero.  If you are reading past my confusing opening, (and the title of this review), you know I’m talking about Megan Leavey. With leash, and gun, in hand, this movie is the chronicle of her walk into the life of a hero and the struggles she had to climb over to succeed.  What’s the verdict?  You’ll have to read on to find out!

 

LIKES:

 

Acting:  Kate Mara was a fantastic pick for the lead of this movie.  Based on Leavey’s history (from the little research I’ve done), Mara was able to play the emotional rainbow required of this complicated role.  The angst of a rebellious young adult is perfectly portrayed, with enough saucy edge to keep things spicy, while only going over the line occasionally.  Yet, the real portrayal of her talents is her acting of honor, valor, and trauma that comes with being a real-life hero.  You’ll feel all the emotional turmoil, or in some cases lack of emotional turmoil, associated with marine life and the sense of duty before self.  Many audience members became entangled in all the feelings of the movie, captivating them in the story.

 

Good Pace: We know that many military dramas are a little long winded, whether in build up or the tail end of the spectrum.  Not the case for Megan Leavey.  This movie keeps things moving quite well, blending excitement, suspense, and character development in a decently condensed time.  The training portion of the movie is funny and heartwarming as bond between dog and human is formed, adequately building what will be the key foundation for the rest of the movie. Once the exciting deployment begins, the tension only surmounts and keeps one further fastened into the movie, constantly reeled in with each ticking minute as they perform their duty.  It’s engaging! It’s exciting!  And it is real!

 

The Dog:  Let’s face it though, the best part of this movie for most is going to be getting to see the dog or dogs trained to sniff out bombs.  Megan Leavey may be a tale about a woman transforming into a hero, but the director also does extraordinary work with the developing the dog’s status as a warrior itself.  Watching Rex perform all the duties required of him is awesome, feeling like a human actor himself rather than a four-legged accessory.  If you think Mara is the emotional lure in the film, then yes you are correct, but that would make Rex the lighthouse of emotions drawing you more into the flame of this movie.  Watching Rex with the consistent worry that something will happen is the true suspense of this movie, I myself silently praying he would make it home alive.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Movie magic drama:  We know that when it comes to describing drama, many films can exaggerate the truth.  While I’m not certain how tough Megan’s life was, this movie had many moments and characters that felt a little overdramatic to me.  I’m not talking about the war aspect, we know that’s hell.  No, the real overacted moments come in the form of her family life, primarily the interaction with her mom.  Eye-rolling moments aside, fans who like these overzealous characters are in for a treat, but it hit some nerves and took away from the movie.

 

The Final Act: Megan Leavey’s film is split into three parts for me and the first two parts are epically put together to keep the film exciting.  The third part however, is more on the slower side and not the area I would have spent a great deal of time on.  I can’t say much without ruining things, but here it goes.  This finale is certainly emotional, well designed, and a fine example of character development.  However, the pace changes at this part, doesn’t focus on the chemistry I fell in love with. Yes, it’s emotional, and the parts are well put together, I just wanted a little more time with the dog and woman.

 

Theater Worthy?: This is a tough component because there is a lot about this movie I like.  However, I can’t say the movie was really something that needed to be in theaters.  With few special effects and stunts, and a story that, while touching, isn’t an epic, adventure/book like drama that Hollywood theaters have captured.  Instead, this movie would have been solid on the History Channel or a Netflix original movie where you could enjoy it in the comfort of your own home.  So, don’t behead me people, I’m just trying to save you some money to maximize the quality of the film.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

Megan Leavey is one of the better military drams I’ve seen in a while.  A fantastic chemistry between man and dog uniting to portray the honor of military service is a leading factor to see this movie.  With emotional sequences captured by beautiful cinematography and epic acting, you’ll find this at the top of a lot of drama loving lists.  Yet, it still lacks some finesse in terms of perfect pace and even more lacks the theater quality effects that make the expensive ticket worthwhile, unless you get the discount show.  Still it is a movie worth checking out when you can, to pay tribute to an honorable woman, her dog, and the heroes that are our military.

 

Biography/Drama/War:  8.5

Movie Overall: 6.5

Morgan or Boregan? Scientific Moral Lesson In A Horrorless package

Morgan

            Picture it, flashing lights, eerie music and images of an artificial life being created on a giant screen.  Paints the idea of a science fiction horror movie right?  Yeah that’s what I thought when I saw the trailer for Morgan.  However, Hollywood is known for fooling us with their editing and therefore I return to my viewing spot once more.  Let’s get started

 

LIKES

  • A true science fiction plot
  • Decent acting
  • Twist in the end

 

To quote a friend, “We seldom get a true science fiction movie that isn’t drowned out by CGI action scenes and grotesque monsters.”  Fortunately, Morgan defies that trend and dives deep into the core of the genre, focusing on the scientific process in all its details.  In a script laden with scientific jargon, one will return to a college biology course sprinkled with a genetics topping.  But the natural science pales to Morgan’s primary focus of the ethics involved with creating life and trying to control it. Much of the film revolves around the small band of scientists arguing about Morgan’s role in life and what the future holds for their creation. It’s another black and white debate between parties, with some slight character development thrown in to add some depth.

As mentioned the film centers on scientists trying to rationalize the ethics of their creations.  So it’s probably important to have a good cast to bring the roles to life right?  In my opinion, the team did okay, but it wasn’t the most earth shattering performances to grace the screen. Kate Mara led the team playing a monotone role that while flat, held some mystery to it. While she certainly was able to look mean and perform stage combat, I wanted to see more of her character to round things out. Anya-Taylor Joy as Morgan certainly has the sociopathic role down and could easily play the next serial villain in a crime drama show. The other assembled casts did a smashing job on their part, both looking and playing the part of obsessive scientists to quite impressive levels.

But perhaps the biggest like of the movie was the twist in the end. In terms of the plot, there is more than meets the eye to some of the characters and the mystery begins to unravel as things heat up. You’ll have to get to the end of the film before the pieces fall together, but those with open eyes may pick up hints if they watch carefully. In addition, the movie actually gets a twist in genre at the end, turning into a part action movie with surprisingly violent stunts. While certainly cheesy this change of pace makes for a semi-exciting climax that relieves the movie of its drab pace.

DISLIKES:

  • Boring, slow pace
  • Not a horror movie or suspenseful
  • Graphic Torture

 

Morgan’s message about the mistakes made when playing God are beaten over the head, but the package it’s delivered in was so dull at times. Sure scientific minds may get caught up in the jargon and scientific ideas, but the team focused too much on the scholastic and not enough on the entertainment.  Surely the mystery element could make up for it, but I found little mystery in this movie other than when Morgan would go nuts, what would happen to her, and of course the twist I don’t want to ruin. If you’re into the moral dilemmas and high grade vocabulary this won’t bother you, but you might want to bring a pillow in case science wasn’t your cup of tea.

When the monotonous discussion eventually stops and the system begins to fail, I thought the suspense would pour in. Wrong again. Despite the dark hallways painted in red, there wasn’t much outside of Morgan’s creepy close ups that one would find unsettling.  I apologize for sounding like a broken record, but this movie lacks in thrills or suspense until the final fifteen to twenty minutes.  When it finally rears its head, the suspense comes in the form graphic torture, that involves brutal mauling, mindless shooting, and a little kung fu to sweeten the wet meat deal. I’ll admit some of these moments are fitting, however it also felt hastily wrapped up into an anticlimactic ending (like the ending to American Horror Story Season 4).

 

The VERDICT

Morgan held a lot of potential, but this reviewer felt much of it was lost in the direction it took. While I appreciate the attempts at being a true science fiction movie and preaching the importance of morals in discovery, it certainly failed to deliver the promised thrills. Such a shame considering they had a decent cast and setting to bring those horrors to life, but you can’t hit a home run all the time right? I can’t recommend this film for the theater, but you might give this one a shot at home when it hits Redbox in a few months. Instead find your local showing of Don’t Breathe and get your thrills from that.

 

My scores:

Drama/Horror/Mystery:  6.0

Movie Overall: 5.0