‘Morbius’ Is as Blood-Sucking as You’d Expect

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Published April 16, 2022
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Morbius (Jared Leto) feasts on a victim, who is grateful to not be in the rest of the film. Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures

Somewhere, Robert Pattinson is breathing a deep sigh of relief that he’s no longer the stupidest cinematic vampire of the 21st century. That would be Morbius.

Admittedly, I’m very biased toward anything with Spider-Man attached, even loosely. “Venom” and its sequel are guilty pleasures of mine, and I’m even willing to defend the much-maligned “Spider-Man 3” and “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” Spider-Man is my favorite fictional character ever created, and even when viewing lesser works of the franchise, my heart still skips a beat whenever I see the web-slinger on my screen.

But even I have my limits.

“Morbius” is the latest installment in the “Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters,” an attempt from Sony Pictures to build a cinematic universe based on the webhead’s supporting cast without the webhead himself. It was a shtick that worked pretty well with “Venom” by casting the incredibly charismatic Tom Hardy, cranking up the absurdity and adding a dash of queer subtext into the mix, making for a weird but charming pair of action movies that felt like a love letter to ‘90s spectacle.

“Morbius” tries to capture that same absurdity by simply being really, really bad and hoping people will make memes about it. I guess it’s working?

Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) escaping from prison and baiting the audience into believing a character worth their time will show up. Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures

Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) escapes from prison and baits the audience into believing a character worth their time will show up.
Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures

Jared Leto stars as Dr. Michael Morbius, a brilliant scientist searching for a cure for the fatal blood disease rapidly eating away at him. He’s funded by his adoptive little brother, Milo Morbius (Matt Smith), who suffers from the same ailment.

Michael hypothesizes if he were to mix bat DNA with human DNA, though a dangerous prospect, it could save his life. And it does, at a cost. He now has an insatiable hunger for blood, and if he doesn’t consume it every six hours, he will transform into a horrific monster that will stop at nothing to feed.

Milo Morbius (Matt Smith) earning a paycheck to hold him over until the next "Doctor Who" reunion. Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures

Milo Morbius (Matt Smith) earns a paycheck to hold him over until the next “Doctor Who” reunion.
Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures

Despite the character in the comics holding the moniker of “The Living Vampire,” “Morbius” is absolutely lifeless. Part of that dullness comes from trying to portray such a bloody character in a PG-13 rated film.

A more intelligent director would have found visually interesting ways of working around the Motion Picture Association’s rules on depictions of blood, but director Daniel Espinosa was clearly not up to the task, opting to mostly just make the action incomprehensible so that if there was blood, there would be no earthly way of telling.

Even in the film’s simplest moments, it’s incompetent, with several shots during dialogue sequences out of focus. It’s not in an artistic way but more of a “camera operator fell asleep at the wheel” way.

Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) surrounded by bats, proving not all bat-themed superhero movies are created equal. Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures

Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) surrounded by bats, proving not all bat-themed superhero movies are created equal.
Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures

The only shred of praise I can give the film is its merciful brevity, clocking in well under two hours.

Perhaps some praise can be given to Smith, who is earning the hell out of his paycheck as the film’s under-cooked and over-the-top villain. Every time he shared the screen with Leto, I imagined how much more bearable the film would be with their roles reversed. The film would still buckle under the weight of its terrible dialogue, awful visuals and choppy editing, but at least I wouldn’t have to watch Leto mumble through a boring performance.

In the end, “Morbius” is simply a bad film. Not one that’s “so bad it’s good” or a guilty pleasure but one that leaves you checking your watch and hoping the line to the bathroom isn’t too long when the lights go up.

Dr. Morbius (Jared Leto) using echolocation to find the point of this movie's existence. Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures

Dr. Morbius (Jared Leto) uses echolocation to find the point of this movie’s existence.
Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures

It’s a dull, incompetent, boring film that aims only to be “a movie that exists,” making its box office from teenage couples that want a big, dark, empty room to make out in before having its streaming rights sold off for an inexplicably high price simply because it has a Marvel logo slapped on it. The only value this film has is its Discord server, which is unexpectedly hilarious.

But otherwise, vote with your wallet and avoid “Morbius” at all costs.

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