Be honest, did anyone expect Morbius to be a good movie? After being delayed five times over the course of two years (sometimes thanks to COVID), Morbius has been unceremoniously dropped into theaters in what is the cinematic equivalent of a shoulder shrug by Sony. The film was supposed to debut earlier this year in January, which would have been perfect. Morbius is a January movie if I’ve ever seen one. It’s a mess of a film for a ton of reasons, but one thing should tell you just how screwed anyone who watches this is here: Jared Leto is the best thing about the movie. When Razzie winner Jared Leto is your strongest point of praise, we’re in trouble.
Director: Daniel Espinosa
Release Date: April 1, 2022
Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) is a dying scientist. Born with a rare blood disease; he’s slowly getting weaker and weaker as he struggles to find a way to cure himself and his childhood friend Milo (Matt Smith). His chosen method for doing so is, of course, to mix his DNA with that of a vampire bat. This somehow works, but unfortunately, this also gives Morbius an insatiable desire to feed on human blood. Double unfortunately, Milo gets a hold of the serum used to do so and is out on a murderous vampiric rampage, leaving Morbius to stop Milo while being chased by the cops, who believe he’s responsible for Milo’s murders.
I will give credit where credit is due, Leto is not awful here. The actor has developed a penchant for playing cartoonishly bad characters, no matter how grounded they’re meant to be. His take on the Joker and Paolo Gucci have become infamous, but his take on Michael Morbius is grounded and solid. Leto claims to have not used his stupid method acting approach for the role but that works out in his favor. This is a simple, back to basics role that delivers a perfectly average, if unremarkable, performance.
Shame the rest of the movie sucks.
I’ve seen a lot of bad movies and I want to be clear that Morbius is not the worst film ever. It’s bad, but there are germs of effective ideas here. They’re just slashed to ribbons by the awful editing. It’s clear that a ton of the movie was cut in order for it to fit a 90-minute runtime, which says a lot. Venom: Let There Be Carnage had the same problem, but that movie was able to skate by since it had clearly established characters and knew not to take itself too seriously. Its length was a major criticism, but it still functioned. Morbius, however, spends half of its runtime giving us a lame origin story for the character and removing any and all levity. Those jokes you saw in the trailer? They’re not here. Just mopey vampire Jared Leto.
Morbius is even wholesale missing key elements needed to make its plot work. Milo is a bizarre antagonist whose motivations are constantly shifting and his relationship with Morbius is odd. Despite being in a hospital for his entire youth, Milo somehow becomes Morbius’ number one financial backer and has bodyguards to protect him from the mob. How did he get that money? The movie never says. Why does he want to try and kill Morbius? Your guess is as good as mine. All that we get is a scenery-chewing Matt Smith with terrible special effects.
Both he and Morbius have laughable vampire faces when they begin to utilize their powers. It’s a weird scrunched CG face with gaunt cheeks and a flat nose, which looks stupid, but it gets even stupider when they switch between them. The transition effects just look bad, and always managed to make me chuckle whenever it happened.
But wonky facial CG is only the beginning of this movie’s special effects woes. I kid you not, the fight scenes in this movie are some of the worst I’ve ever seen in a blockbuster. All of the fight scenes have this weird water-like visual filter over them that makes it look like the screen is smudged. Fights scenes are nonsensically paced and are impossible to distinguish what happens. The editors seem to be aware of this too as every fight scene has rapid-fire usage of slow-mo and fast-mo to make them look more dynamic than they are. Instead, we get a few seconds of indistinguishable nonsense only for the film to freeze on Milo and Morbius making frowny faces at each other before speeding back up again.
Morbius also completely drops the ball on what is a huge narrative error. It’s not even a minor continuity nitpick as it’s a major plot point that completely invalidates the internal conflict that Morbius has to deal with. Throughout the film, there’s a ticking clock on the artificial blood that he developed sustaining him before he has to turn to the real stuff. Milo is egging him on, goading him into trying human blood, to which Morbius refuses at every turn. That is, except for a scene midway through the movie where he clearly drinks human blood and jumps like Mario out of a prison, only to use his super-duper vampire powers to fly in a subway. So when he agonizes over drinking human blood, it’s impossible not to point at the earlier scene and call bull.
Now you may also be wondering about this film’s MCU connections. After all, Michael Keaton’s Vulture is blatantly shown in the trailers! Firstly, so much of the trailer isn’t actually in the movie. Just assume all that marketing hype is a lie. Secondly, nope, there are no MCU connections here. That’s just a complete and utter lie to make you think that Morbius is more important than it is. It isn’t. There is no reason to see this. You’re not missing out on any MCU stuff and the fact that Sony is banking on that to make people see Morbius really does make the film come across like a vampire, sucking the life out of whatever it attaches itself to.
Actually no, Morbius isn’t like a vampire. Morbius is like a leech. A tiny, insignificant, blood-sucking leech that is more of an inconvenience than anything else. It tries to piggyback on popular trends but by being so inept at actually telling a cohesive action movie that it’s just visually exhausting to witness. Morbius has been delayed five times over two years and frankly should have been delayed many more times or just outright canceled. No one would have missed it and no one will care about its failure.