Morbius Cast: Jared Leto, Matt Smith, Adria Arjona
Morbius Director: Daniel Espinosa
Morbius Stars: 2.5/5
From the very get-go, one can predict that Morbius is nothing but a “seat filler” supervillain origin story before the vampire monster becomes a potential enemy in Spider-Man‘s multiverse. Bringing Jared Leto into Marvel’s world especially as Morbius seems like a very obvious choice, given his many terrific transformative performances in the recent past, but does the Oscar winner enthral audiences to make Morbius a fan favourite Marvel villain like Tom Hardy’s Venom? Let’s find out!
For those not inclined to the comic book history of Morbius, Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) is a world-renowned scientist, applauded for his service in saving humanity with his work while battling a deathly blood disease himself. With his time steadily running out, Morbius takes a hard gamble with an ethically questionable cure which results in his transformation into a blood-hungry vampire monster, The Living Vampire, deriving powers similar to that of bats. After laying to waste a massacre-filled line of bodies, in his wake, now a well-built superhuman Michael promises to never let his evilness run loose again. Alongside Michael is his best friend, the flamboyant and super rich Milo (Matt Smith), who battles the same rare disease, but unlike Morbius, Milo finds immoral freedom in the cursed cure and has no problem in killing innocent victims, relishing human blood in all its glory.
As expected, we’re given a patented good vs. evil storyline, with a very predictable ending, where the friends-turned-foes battle for opposite ends of the same spectrum. There is unfortunately nothing new, at all, that Morbius brings to the overrated “superhero” genre and while it’s eerily similar to the Venom franchise, it’s not nearly as fun as the Tom Hardy starrer. On one hand, Tom’s Venom has excitement interlaced with the actor given innate freedom to let loose and on the other hand, Jared’s Morbius is drowning in moral ambiguity, hitting a stalemate in character development.
The blame? The mediocre screenplay, a middling origin story, by writers Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless. In spite of Morbius being such an intriguing supervillain in the making, the script never truly does him justice. You’re left wondering throughout Morbius‘ one hour and 46 minutes runtime – What’s the point of this? Whether it be the puzzling creative decision of Morbius’ transformation process being a no-show (You just have to envision how the switch from a sickly Dr. Michael Mobius to a macho Mobius happened!) to the anti-climatic ending where you reach the uninspiring climax before you even understand the beginning, the droll-worthy plot pace isn’t exciting in the least.
As for the performances in Morbius, Jared Leto tries his earnest to add a certain level of spunk to Morbius, but because the boring script demands it, his brooding one-toned performance lacks life and it really doesn’t help that the shoddy CGI does most of the acting for him. In comparison, Matt Smith inflicts a semblance of fun with Milo, who is bestowed with the best scenes (especially a particularly awesome “Joker-inspired” villainous dance sequence!), which are unfortunately sparse. He genuinely seems like he’s having a ball of a time! The confrontation scenes between the surrogate brothers could have been a whole lot more intriguing if only the dialogues weren’t so poorly written and if we could actually empathise with the characters and their backstories.
Adria Arjona as Morbius’ right-hand woman and love interest Martine Bancroft (the romance between the pair feels very undernourished!) and Jared Harris as Mobius and Milo’s mentor Dr. Emil Nicholas make do with the limited character sketches they’re handed with while Tyrese Gibson and Al Madrigal as FBI agents Simon Stroud and Alberto “Al” Rodriguez, on Mobius and Milo’s hot trail, are terribly underused, with Alberto’s caricaturish humour being the opposite of witty.
Given the constant delays in making Morbius, the amateur CGI is an understandable yet terrible buzzkill, except for a few exceptions, like the striking colourful smoke effects when Morbius and Milo take flight, fighting a storm in… New York City, below subways and above skyscrapers. Certain battle sequences are admirable and even inventive owing to the teleportation effects, but alas, they never reach their true potential. As for Morbius and Milo’s vampire makeovers, they oscillate between bearable and thank you, next. While Oliver Wood’s cinematography has its rare thriving moments, Jon Ekstrand’s pulsating score deserved so much better. The two confusing post-credits sequences which introduce a recent Spider-Man villain feels like terrible “product placement” for future Spider-Man instalments.
With a dark setting and horror elements induced throughout, lines and easter eggs like “I am Venom,” which is a constant reminder that it’s a multiverse, after all, Morbius has its life sucked out. All the pun intended! In finality, Daniel Espinosa’s directorial never truly takes flight because it doesn’t take its titular character Morbius seriously. Because of this, we, as an audience can’t take Morbius seriously. Or as a future formidable foe to Spider-Man, in any timeline.