Morbius is the latest film to exist within Sony’s pocket cinematic universe of Venom. There’s no Spider-Man and no Avengers present so that dark characters such as Morbius and Venom can run rampant in their own solo stories. This knowledge of this universe isn’t essential to watching Morbius but it’s worth noting for the freedom this film has.
This is why Morbius is such a huge disappointment. Not being bound by the other Marvel movies, it has a chance to be more of its own thing. It seems like it could lean in heavier on the horror angle for the tale of an anti-hero who becomes a vampire.
Sadly, this is a film that tries too hard to become a bland superhero picture. Not only does it stick to the archaic tropes but it even evokes dated aspects of superhero films pre-MCU. If there were ever a modern superhero film that felt as though it was still trapped in the early 2000s, this one is it.
Jared Leto Turns Vampiric
Doctor Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) is a man who is seeking a cure for his blood disease. He has dedicated his life to finding a cure and made some advancements with his development of artificial blood. But a cure may be on the horizon if he’s willing to go the route of a mad scientist.
Morbius’s latest experiment involves fusing bat DNA with human blood to cure his disability. It’s a dangerous experiment but he’s willing to take the risks. Once he infuses his blood with this new concoction, he finds that his legs are not only fixed but he’s a buff vampire with a lust for blood.
If that sounds like an exciting transformation, you may be disappointed with how Morbius handles this new information. Think about this: If you spent your whole life on crutches and suddenly could use your legs as a superpowered vampire with increased reflexes, wouldn’t you be excited? For Morbius, there is no excitement, only results to document.
Morbius has this irritatingly analytical personality that makes him such a boring character, be he villain or anti-hero. With a mostly muted performance by Leto, he’s such a bore. Scenes of him delivering one-liners while beating up bad guys fall incredibly flat, to the point where it almost feels as though Leto is sleepwalking through this movie.
The supporting players do little more than conform to the tropes we’ve come to expect from comic book movies. Martine (Adria Arjona) is Morbius’s lab assistant who cares for his well-being. If you guessed that they’d fall in love, you’re correct.
If you expected that romance to build, however, you’re mistaken. There’s the care between the two characters but not much romance. It makes the big scene of Morbius kissing her before his big vampire battle less romantic and more required to tick all the boxes.
Also present in the picture is Matt Smith as Milo, a childhood friend with the same disease as Morbius. Milo is perhaps the most interesting character as the only one who seems bound by emotion. He bitterly wants the cure and takes great pleasure in being able to walk again.
Of course, Milo will turn evil with his powers. This seems like the perfect opportunity for Morbius to tap into a philosophical plea for his friend to not go down a dark path. Unfortunately, Morbius’s scientist personality can’t muster much and he has to resort to a serum that will kill Milo.
And then there are the one-step-behind detectives played by Tyrese Gibson and Al Madrigal. They try to provide some comic relief but can’t muster any. It’s hard to blame the actors for not being too enthused in these roles.
Morbius Is A Visual Mess
As a vampire movie, the computer graphics are utilized in heavy abundance. Scenes of Morbius and Milo transforming into sharp-toothed and undead creatures of the night are not as impressive as his passive effects become. There’s rarely a moment to appreciate the transformation considering how fluid it becomes, dropping and out of scenes at random.
The most garish quality of the picture is how Morbius creates these streams of atoms as he attempts to flow through currents. While the attempt to give the character some style is admirable, it just makes him look more like a ghost who exists in a world of weightlessness. This staging of auras really takes the punch out of scenes where he lays waste to a room of gunmen in his first fight.
The scenes between Morbius and Milo fighting are some of the worst. They chuck each other around New York City in a smear of CGI. The camera occasionally slows down to show a slo-mo punch from two completely CGI characters and it’s enough to make one long for a moratorium on these types of sequences.
The Weak Marvel Connections
Morbius exists in such a stock universe that I found myself longing for other Marvel characters to enter the scene. Everything in this film was so dreary and it was all in service of making a bog-standard action picture more than a horror-themed monster movie. Where’s the energy?
The most depressing thing to report is that we don’t get any crossover until the mid-credit sequence. And, wow, is it way too little way too late. A last-minute twist reveals that Morbius is not the only Spider-Man villain in a world without Spider-Man.
And how does Morbius react to this news of other misfit villains on the scene? A mere shrug. I’m sorry, but if the central character isn’t even interested in an expanded universe, why should anyone in the audience?
Nothing in Morbius really works, feeling more like a dime-store Marvel knock-off than a Marvel movie. It doesn’t have the guts to be a horror movie or the levity to be an action picture. The special effects are brutally unconvincing and the acting is just dead from all involved.
Unless you just really want to see another addition to the Venom universe, there’s absolutely no reason to see Morbius. Even if you just want to watch it for the universe connections, that scene is only one minute long. Not exactly worth the runtime of this movie that is under two hours but felt like an eternity.
Did you watch Morbius in the theater? Was it better or worse than Venom? Let us know in the comments below.
Morbius is currently playing in theaters everywhere.