Tue. May 24th, 2022


PLOT: Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) seeks to cure his rare blood disease by injecting himself with the DNA of vampire bats. The plan works but also turns him into a blood-drinking superhuman. He can control his bloodlust, but the same cannot be said for his similarly afflicted best friend, Milo (Matt Smith), who uses his powers for evil.

REVIEW: You have to hand it to Sony – the extended Spider-Verse (or – as they call it, Sony’s Spider-Man Universe) has worked way better than anyone thought it would. Venom and its sequel overcame pretty toxic reviews to become box office juggernauts, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse became a classic. Now, with Spider-Man: No Way Home opening the door to allow the extended Spidey universe to mingle with the legit MCU franchise led by Tom Holland, the sky is the limit. Morbius was shot before No Way Home, but there are enough hints dropped here to set it within the extended Spider-Man universe, meaning we may soon see Leto’s Morbius go up against Spider-Man. However, the question of which version is the one fans will no doubt be asking once they see this long-delayed superhero flick.

Morbius is similar to the Venom films. More modest in scale than anything in the MCU, this is light, fast-paced superhero action, running a lean 100 minutes. It probably cost about a third of what No Way Home did, so if you expect a large-scale superhero epic, you’ll be disappointed. However, if you don’t mind a smaller addition to the franchise, you’ll find that Morbius works relatively well as decent entertainment.

Jared Leto makes for a likeable Michael Morbius. It’s rare to see him in more heroic parts, with him often playing villains, but he’s admirably straightforward as the heroic Morbius pre-transformation. Morbius is presented as a kindly doctor eager to better humanity, although he knows he’s on a ticking clock, with his disease on the verge of ending his life prematurely. He also bristles against his physical limitations, explaining his relationship with Adria Arjona’s Martine. She’s a medical associate who carries a big torch, but he’s unwilling to go there with her as he figures he’ll soon be dead. His only real relationship is with Matt Smith’s Milo, a similarly afflicted billionaire who bankrolls his work. At the same time, a wildly under-utilized Jared Harris plays their father figure, a doctor who’s Milo’s full-time care-giver.

The relationship between Morbius and Milo grounds the film somewhat, making the latter’s eventual transformation into a villain carry a bit of pathos for our hero, as he has to fight his only real friend. Once Morbius becomes strong, Leto displays a physicality we haven’t seen in many of his more recent roles, with him impossibly chiselled while he gets to mix it up in a few brief fight scenes. The transformation into the vampiric side of Morbius is done through CGI, with the vampire side of the character peaking out any time he starts to hunger for human blood. Leto is a divisive figure, but I think he’ll win over a lot of people here. At times he’s even low-key.

Meanwhile, Matt Smith seems to be having the time of his life as the scenery-chewing baddie, going purposefully over the top as Milo begins to relish his new powers. Director Daniel Espinosa similarly has fun with the comic book origins. The cinematography gives this a bright, colourful look that’s a far cry from the more noirish approach of something like The Batman. Espinosa also embraces the horror aspects of the plot, using an iris-out at one point, and staging one really cool attack sequence in a way that pays homage to An American Werewolf in London.

However, Morbius has a few issues. Notably, both Harris and Arjona are wildly under-used. Both disappear from large stretches of the film and could have used more screen time. Also, a bickering cop pair played by Tyrese and Al Madrigal adds nothing to the plot except for a little tacked-on comic relief. Why bring Tyrese into a movie like this if he’s not going to get any action. Morbius also rushes towards its climax, similar to the last Venom film, as if they ran out of resources and had to wrap things up quickly. I wish Sony had pumped up the budget a bit more to give the character a more significant launch, but keeping it modest means it doesn’t have to open to The Batman numbers to make it a success and continue the franchise.

In the end, Morbius is a decent enough start for the latest addition to the Sony Spider-Man Universe. While I doubt fans will be clamouring to have him join the MCU right away, it would be cool to see him show up in perhaps another Spider-Man spin-off, especially if Sony ever manages to entice Andrew Garfield to reprise the character in a legit The Amazing Spider-Man 3. Only time will tell.

Morbius review

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