Director Daniel Espinosa offers modest genre thrills in this latest offering from Marvel and Sony’s shared universe, but Jared Leto’s forlorn vampire lacks the necessary pathos to resonate beyond his striking looks.
Morbius also falls prey to its screenwriters’ disregard of vampire mythology as mere setting pieces; therefore it cannot transcend its formulaic origins story tropes.
Morbius, Sony’s inaugural Marvel-related spinoff movie to hit theaters, can easily leave audiences dissatisfied and eager for something different. Lacking in either humorous banter or eye-popping animation action sequences, this budget origin story delivers exactly as promised until its emotional impact becomes too great to bear.
Beginning with an exposition dump that introduces Michael Leto (beardless), and Lucian (Matt Smith), two protagonists stranded in this alternate reality, as they fight a disease which has rendered them helpless against it. Michael (portrayed by Leto), working alongside Lucian’s callow malcontent status (Smith) are researchers at a laboratory, trying to find a cure for their condition; after years of fruitless efforts they may finally come close by splicing their DNA with that of vampire bats (an antagonemic).
As the film progresses, its characters grow closer together, giving us a clearer sense of their true bond. That’s because Sazama and Burk Sharpless’s script places less of an emphasis on their struggle against disease than on their camaraderie and mutual need for companionship; an approach which emphasizes genuine emotion instead of cold cynicism.
Unfortunately, Morbius can’t deliver on the promise of its emotional resonance due to the performances of its leads. Jared Leto’s ability as an accomplished comic book actor proves inadequate when portraying Morbius’ forlorn figure; more Robert Pattinson in Batman films than Joker in Suicide Squad films, Leto lacks the necessary pathos that would draw us in as we try and root for him.
Visually, the film struggles to stand out from its contemporaries. The muted greys and sickly greens of its set design don’t stand out nearly as much from those in Sony’s other Marvel-adjacent franchise offerings; special effects fall flat. Watching Leto swap out his cheekbones for skeletal scowls post-production isn’t nearly as thrilling as seeing Tom Hardy do it live.
Morbius features an impressive cast, but due to the film’s dull tone and slow pace they never get the chance to truly shine. Humor is severely lacking while action scenes remain disappointingly generic compared to what one might expect in an average comic book movie.
What should have been an exciting, blood-soaked thriller turns out to be a dull, uninspiring affair; its uneven pacing leaves one wondering why they bother sitting through it at all.
Jared Leto stars here as Jared the Vampire. Director Daniel Espinosa attempts to add horror flourishes that won’t quite work; these attempts, however, never quite meet Leto’s performance of playing his part with an unwavering straight face and without the same kind of campy flair that made Tom Hardy’s Venom films so enjoyable.
Morbius stars Adrian Toomes aka Vulture from Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Spider-Man films as one of two post credit scenes (SPOILERS AHEAD). Adria Arjona from Belko Experiment plays Dr. Michael Morbius’s partner and research assistant Adria, but her devotion is put under strain when Michael uses vampire bat DNA splicing techniques in an attempt to overcome blood disease symptoms, becoming an unpredictable killer who begins taking lives of innocent bystanders.
Morbius relies heavily on CGI for its special effects, which may not necessarily be seen as negative; however, here the computer generated action appears flat and lifeless. Additionally, its pace can often seem inconsistent; sometimes lasting an eternity before suddenly racing forward again.
Nikols Harris plays an FBI agent who’s on a mission to capture Morbius. While she and Morbius share good chemistry, their romance never really blossoms – indeed Martine Bancroft appears only once for one irksome scene that comes close. Unfortunately, this potential interesting concept and talented cast are wasted by this conventional action flick.
The movie features some impressive scenes, from vampire transformations and NYC settings to moral conflicts that could have made for an interesting flick – instead it becomes just another hot pile of garbage that you can quickly dismiss.
Pacing issues plague this film from start to finish, leaving little room for engagement with characters or an emotional investment in them. Furthermore, there are some noticeable problems with tone; for instance, trying to be both gothic horror and superhero movie at once doesn’t work very well; nor does its attempts at conveying both tragedy of good people turned monstrous by evil and thrills of watching villains transform themselves into self-actualized badasses; these attempts fall flat.
Add to that, the film’s script isn’t particularly strong either; dialogue is mostly mundane and insincere while actors deliver it without much emotion or conviction. Furthermore, excessive use of shaky cam and extreme closeups are distracting and annoying features in this production.
Jared Leto excels as Morbius once more, supported by an outstanding ensemble cast that features Matt Smith (The Crown) as his friend Milo; Adria Arjona (Pacific Rim: Uprising; Emmy winner and nominee in 2016 for her work as Martine); and Jared Harris (Chernobyl).
Morbius is a generic comic book movie with an incoherent plot and some attractive visuals, so if you are a Marvel fan it would be best to look elsewhere for films to watch instead of this one.
While not the worst Marvel movie ever made, this one was still an enormous let-down. What makes matters worse is that its intriguing concept went so wrong in execution. We hope Sony just got off on the wrong foot with their Marvel franchise films; hopefully things will pick up as time progresses or fans could end up having to wait a while longer before seeing another Marvel flick from this studio.
Morbius is an entertaining thriller with some unexpected dark humor and strong horror visuals, yet unfortunately falls far short of its potential. Director Daniel Espinosa often collaborates with Nicolas Winding Refn and tends to treat each scene too seriously; unfortunately this means Morbius would have been more enjoyable as an immersive journey through dark humor and more vivid horror visuals.
But instead, the movie is bogged down with too much exposition, an uninspiring lead performance and subpar CGI. Leto, normally very solid in his roles, seems bored and lifeless here; while his character should be trying to treat a rare disease with scientific methods, he comes off more as just another miserable man with problems who doesn’t connect well with audiences; his attempts at humor go completely awry.
The movie suffers from an absence of creativity and energy. There are a few compelling scenes, but they are overwhelmed by mundane CG graphics and uninspiring action sequences. Dialogue is also unfunny with actors often sounding as though they’re sleeping through their lines; furthermore, moral implications never get fully explored, leaving it feeling shallow and predictable.
Thankfully, Venom: Let There Be Carnage features two post-credits scenes that add some closure. In one such scene starring Michael Keaton as Adrian Toomes (better known as Vulture from Marvel Universe) through that purple rift, due to multiversal happenings from Venom: Let There Be Carnage. Since his crimes occurred outside Sony-verse prison walls he is freed and proposes joining up with Morbius.
Although it can be emotionally devastating to witness characters meet their fates, the second post-credits scene offers hope: Martine opens her eyes to find that she and Morbius still remain vampires despite everything that has transpired between them. Let us hope they find some way of living together because these two deserve better than this!