I could probably suggest a few better ideas for spending a Saturday afternoon that would be more enjoyable than seeing ‘Morbius’. Go for a walk, take care of some laundry, get a root canal, etc. Unfortunately, I spent Saturday at the theater rolling my eyes incessantly. I think I started developing a migraine. Another great meal and service at Alamo Drafthouse did all the heavy-lifting for this visit.
‘Morbius’ could be the poster-child of what it means to go off the rails. The film starts off as a promising and coherent Marvel/Sony origin story. However, about 30 minutes into the film, it loses its balance and never even makes an attempt to recover. If this is where the Sony-verse is heading it may be best to stick to the MCU or even the Snyder-verse.
It Can’t Be That Hard to Screw-Up an Origin Story, Right?
‘Morbius’ is an anti-hero origin story taking place in the Sony/Spider-Man corner of the Marvel universe. It is separate from the MCU but has a few tie-ins. This thanks to ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ dipping its toe into the multiverse. Michael Morbius (played by the ever-polarizing Jared Leto) is a brilliant medical doctor and scientist. He also suffers from a debilitating blood-disorder that has left him partially immobilized–relying on the use of crutches. Due to this, he has dedicated his life and work to developing a cure for himself and others who suffer from his condition.
Early on in the film, Morbius has discovered a promising treatment for his disorder using the DNA of vampire bats. Upon several successful tests on rats he secures funding from his lifelong friend and fellow-sufferer Milo, played by Matt Smith. This funding will allow him to go into international waters in order to test the cure on himself without Johnny Law raising any eyebrows. Unfortunately, the test goes-awry (shocker). Even though it has seemingly cured Dr. Morbius’ condition, it has now turned him into a vampire-adjacent creature. After killing the crew, Morbius escapes the ship and flees back to his laboratory in New York to assess his condition and hide-out.
From this point forward, the plot details and story become so convoluted that it is very difficult to discern anyone’s motive or really what’s at stake. Without spoiling anything, the story does indeed become unpredictable–due more so to a terrible execution of a story rather than being unique or interesting.
I Feel Like I’m Taking Crazy Pills
‘Morbius’ is a film that did not benefit from sitting on the shelf due to COVID. To its credit, it is completely understandable and tracks through the 1st act. I sat in the theater honestly wondering why this movie had a 16% on Rotten Tomatoes. Nothing up until that point gave me reason to think it was that terrible. However, it all became clear once the failed experiment took place. After this, it becomes nearly impossible to understand what is going on or what any character’s motivation seems to be.
Not only this, but there also seems to be an endless amount of plot-holes through to the end of the movie. There are a few instances (without giving any spoilers) where we seem to have skipped over major story developments and we’re asked to simply accept the situation.
I can’t help but think that a solid-chunk of this movie was left on the cutting room floor. Possibly it’s the victim of the studio not trusting the audience is willing to sit for a film longer than 2 hours. That isn’t to say that there is a Director’s Cut out there that would save its reputation, but this movie just felt unfinished.
Leto Gonna Leto
We at the CineBoiz Podcast have a long track-record of making fun of Jared Leto. Unfortunately for him, ‘Morbius’ has only justified our takes. Leto’s character is so unrelatable and even unlikeable at points. The movie starts off setting up Dr. Morbius as a mysterious and morally ambiguous protagonist. Then it takes a hard 180; attempting to turn him into a pithy, smart-ass Marvel hero. It falls absolutely flat with Leto not doing himself any favors. Every attempt at a wisecrack was met with silence in the theater.
His supporting cast doesn’t really do much to help either. Tyrese Gibson and Al Madrigal as Agents Stroud and Rodriguez spend the movie trying to suck all of the charisma out of the room. Gibson is not believable as the cop who plays it straight and Madrigal’s lighter-take is a miss. In their defense, I will blame this more on the filmmakers not knowing how to utilize them more than their actual performances.
HUGE COMPLAINT SIDE NOTE: There is a scene where Madrigal’s character attempts to lure out a cat by shaking its litter box. Common sense confirms that this has and will never work.
In regards to acting though, there are two compliments I will give ‘Morbius’:
- Matt Smith is an excellent villain. Even though his storyline is a bit unclear, he plays his part very well and almost makes up for Leto’s shortcomings.
- Jared Harris is a criminally underrated actor and he shows why here. Even with a small role in this dumpster-fire he does an excellent job.
What Year Is This?
The terrible story and acting of ‘Morbius” is hindered by the half-baked approach this movie takes with style and special effects. It felt like a post-Spiderman/pre-Ironman Marvel film. It lacked any imagination or creativity. I felt like I had taken a time-machine back to 2005 and I was sitting through another Hollywood cash-grab. Hey Sony, if I wanted to re-watch Elektra I would’ve just rented it.
Adding to this, the special-effects in this movie are downright atrocious. It looks and feels more like a cut-scene in a video game than a studio-backed superhero film. The CGI utilized throughout the movie is so distracting. It completely took me out of the experience. You’d think sitting on the shelf for over a year would give them time to work out the kinks. Sony decided to take a more hands-off approach I guess.
I in good conscience can’t recommend you buy a ticket for ‘Morbius’. I also in good conscience can’t recommend you set-aside any time for this one–even if it’s free. We only have so long to live on this earth, and we shouldn’t be sending a message to Hollywood that this is the kind of movie we want or need. ‘Morbius’ is a prime example of a studio that is concerned more with profit than quality. Sony cut so many corners on this film and seemingly tried to bank on the presence of a big-name in Jared Leto. They should also be ashamed that they included American Treasure Michael Keaton in their post-credits scenes. He deserves better.
‘Morbius’ is a train-wreck on multiple levels. It seemingly knows that and insults movie-goers by thinking we’d just accept it as an unfinished product.
VERDICT: 1 out of 5 Stars–A half-star for Matt Smith and half-star for Jared Harris.