Morbius (2022) Review!!

Synopsis – Biochemist Michael Morbius tries to cure himself of a rare blood disease, but he inadvertently infects himself with a form of vampirism instead. 

My Take – I honestly still don’t understand Sony‘s determined move to create solo films focusing on Spider-Man villains.

Sure, some of these characters have more to them than their run-ins with the web-crawling super hero in the Marvel Comics world, but do they possess enough characteristics to connect with a general audience, without any assistance from Peter Parker? Well no.

But of course with the massive financial successes of both Venom (2018) and Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021), their MCU inspired shared universe titled Sony’s Spider-Man Universe (SSU) was all but confirmed to go forward. With their first expansion out of Venom territory being the Jared Leto-led flick focused on the character Morbius, the Living Vampire, created by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane.

But keeping in consideration that the film is directed by Daniel Espinosa (Life, Child 44) and written by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless, who are best known for writing awful films like Dracula Untold, The Last Witch Hunter, and Gods of Egypt together, it should not come as a surprise the results are as terrible as one could have predicted.

Considering the fact that it was delayed a total of six times on its way to its eventual release this weekend around the world, this latest Sony and Marvel collaboration appeared to be doomed right from the start, and upon seeing this toothless comic book adaptation it calls into question Sony’s obsessively grand project of building an entire Spider-Man less cinematic universe, starting with its next two follow-ups, Kraven the Hunter and Madame Web, that are already in stages of filming and pre-production.

In an attempt to stand out, the film pitches plenty at audiences to see what sticks. Yet amid a barrage of stars, vampire-on-vampire violence, and science-gone-awry melodrama, it’s a rare film that gets almost everything wrong.

While it does contain brief moments of quality and good ideas but they are ultimately not enough to elevate a weak origin story for its title character that feels rushed with plenty of pointless elements, lazy writing and most importantly, laughably bad end credits scenes.

The story follows Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto), a brilliant scientist with a crippling blood disease he has vowed to cure. Working alongside scientist Martine Bancroft (Adria Arjona), over the years Morbius has found immense success and fame, thanks to his creation of a synthetic blood-like substance that revolutionized medicine, yet his focus continues to remain on finding a way to restore both his own health and that of his extravagantly wealthy childhood friend, Lucien aka Milo (Matt Smith), who suffers from the same blood disorder.

However, determined that his latest experiment, which contains splicing vampire bat DNA with his own, will yield results, Morbius ends up transforming himself into a vampiric superhuman with a hunger for human blood. And when bodies begin to pile up, Morbius finds himself on the run from the FBI Agents Simon Stroud (Tyrese Gibson) and Alberto “Al” Rodriguez (Al Madrigal).

It is unfortunate that despite the scope everything about the film feels ill-conceived. The story is disjointed, the dialogue is basic, the character depth is barely there, and the relationships simply superficial. Anyone wondering about the specifics of Morbius’ disease or superpowers is better off not trying to parse the film’s thin explanations. The film only truly comes to life when Milo assumes his villainous role, learning what Morbius has become and taking the serum himself.

The film presents its origin story with the most formulaic structure, which could have been forgiven if the proceedings would have been entertaining, but with an overly serious Leto doing the complete opposite of Tom Hardy’s campy Venom shtick, that turned the film into such a success, the results are ultimately deterring, minus the superhero fun. Besides ignoring the fun that might be had with exploring the tropes of vampire horror, the film also fails to be remotely scary.

To be fair, the special effects used to show Morbius and Milo’s physical transformations into their vampiric alter-egos are superb, however the actual violence is only implied, lost somewhere in all the chaotic editing, which seems so unsure about what a vampire in battle should look like that it simply fudges every action scene into an indescribable blur.

However, the biggest sin the film suffers for are due to its misleading trailers. Any and all reference to Spider-Man, including the street art in the background, don’t exist in the film. As for Adrian Toomes as the Vulture, he’s not a part of the plot, despite what the marketing would have you believe. Even Venom is mentioned only in passing in the form of a failing joke when Morbius identifies himself as the symbiote anti-hero.

Performance wise, Jared Leto is alright in the lead role. Morbius learns to control his powers without much effort, so the majority of the film is dedicated to Leto‘s monologue about how he can only be sustained by artificial blood for so long. Without a doubt the Oscar winning actor is highly talented, but following his turn as Joker in DC‘s Suicide Squad (2016), this one is his second superhero property burn.

Playing more of a wild man, Matt Smith gets to have a bit more fun, throwing his body into a frenzy of dance and occasional menace. He is the film’s shining light, in parts overshadowing even Leto. But he deserves better, and one can only hope this experience wouldn’t turn him off from blockbusters.

In supporting turns, Adria Arjona, Jared Harris, Tyrese Gibson and Al Madrigal are wasted. While Michael Keaton hams it up in his ill-defined cameo. On the whole, ‘Morbius’ is a gleefully inept superhero flick backed by a mediocre script.

Directed – Daniel Espinosa

Starring – Adria Arjona, Jared Harris, Jared Leto

Rated – PG13

Run Time – 104 minutes

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