‘Morbius’ Review

To expand upon my quick thoughts in the video, Morbius is a superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character Morbius, the Living Vampire, directed by Daniel Espinosa from a screenplay written by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless. Featuring Jared Leto, Matt Smith, Adria Arjona, Jared Harris, Al Madrigal, and Tyrese Gibson, Morbius is the third film in Sony’s Spider-Man Universe (SSU). The story follows Dr. Michael Morbius, a scientist who becomes a “living vampire” after splicing vampire bat and human DNA to cure himself of a rare blood disease.

Opening in South America, a helicopter lands at the mouth of a cave on a cliff. A sickly Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) exits the helicopter at dusk. Buying a knife from the pilot, he cuts his hand and waits for the vampire bats to emerge. Attracted to the smell of Michael’s blood, the bats swarm him allowing him to capture some of them. Flashback to a hospital in Greece, a young Michael Morbius (Charlie Shotwell) is doing origami whilst looking out the window. He is introduced to a new patient named Lucien (Joseph Esson), whom he jokingly nicknames Milo. They begin bonding over their shared disease and desire to be cured. When Lucien’s blood cleaning machine fails, Michael fixes it with a pen. When the hospital director, Dr. Emil Nicholas (Jared Harris) finds out about Michael’s ingenuity, he arranges for Michael to attend a special school that will nurture his intellectual gifts. Before Michael leaves he tells Lucien that he will find a cure and save them both.

Flash forward to present-day New York, Michael returns to work at Horizon Labs after publicly declining a Nobel Prize for his creation of synthetic blood. Considering it only a byproduct of his attempts to cure his disease and unworthy of recognition. His colleague, Dr. Martine Bancroft (Adria Arjona) questions Michael about the dozens of vampire bats he brought back from South America. He tells her that splicing their genes with his own may cure his condition, but it would be illegal to do on U.S. soil. He then goes to his best friend Lucien (Matt Smith) for funding so that he can test his experimental cure in international waters.

Thanks to Marvel Studios’ Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), creating a shared universe has become the new norm. Many other studios have tried with varying degrees of success. Warner Bros. launched its DC Extended Universe (DCEU) with Man of Steel in 2013 and has changed course multiple times, even abandoning the original concept conceived by Zack Snyder. Universal Pictures attempted to start its Dark Universe twice, first with Dracula Untold (a seriously underrated film) in 2014 and then the Tom Cruise led The Mummy reboot in 2017. They have since abandoned their shared universe plans in favor of solo monster films. Sony also previously tried to start a shared universe off the heels of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 but shuttered those plans to reboot Spider-Man in the (MCU).

Now, three films deep into the SSU (Sony’s second attempt at a shared cinematic universe), Morbius proves that the studio has no clue how to properly manage such an endeavor. This movie has one good thing going for it: the excellent casting by Nina Gold. Jared Leto is an Oscar-winning talent and looks very similar to his comic counterpart. Matt Smith, Adria Arjona, and Jared Harris are also talented in their own right. Al Madrigal and Tyrese Gibson can be pretty funny when used appropriately. Morbius, unfortunately, wastes all the talent at its disposal. This story is bland, forgettable, and dated. There are plot elements that come up early in the film that are ignored by the time the credits roll and the characters seem to develop new abilities out of nowhere. The CGI looks dated, evocative of a mid-2000s superhero movie, with horribly edited fight scenes filled with unnecessary slow-motion and closeups. All building up to a very anticlimactic and rushed ending.

If you’re a fan who was eager for this flick and watched all the trailers you might leave disappointed. It’s evident Sony recut this project before its release. Many lines are spoken by characters offscreen, which reeks of last-minute ADR (Automated Dialog Replacement). FBI Agents Stroud (Gibson) and Rodriguez (Madrigal) are barely in the film after being featured heavily in the trailers. Agent Stroud’s cybernetically enhanced arm is nowhere to be seen. All of the connections to Spider-Man shown in the trailers; the graffiti, Oscorp, and Michael Keaton’s Adrian Toomes/Vulture are cut from the main film. Toomes does show up in the two post-credits scenes that try to connect Morbius to Spider-Man: No Way Home, but they make zero sense.

The sad thing is, with all the delays, Sony had ample time to fix any issues with this film. Originally I thought it would be great to bring back Andrew Garfield as the Spider-Man of this universe, but now I don’t want him anywhere near it. I give Morbius a Horrible 2/10. If Sony can’t get their act together, it might be best for them to focus on their partnership with Marvel Studios and move all of their characters to the MCU exclusively because this feature has greatly decreased my interest in the upcoming Kraven the Hunter and Madame Web projects, which are also set in the SSU.

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