Review: Morbius

Morbius movie poster

The Sony Marvel multiverse raises its head, slowly but surely.

An intelligent scientist attempts to cure his rare blood disease by infusing himself with vampire bat DNA. With a monstrous transformation comes great guilt; especially when a friend also takes the cure and goes on a rampage…

Sony Pictures are permanently hobbled in the hearts of today’s cinemagoing public, especially when it comes to their Marvel properties. Morbius is especially hamstrung.

With Spider-Man: No Way Home (and Dr Strange and the Multiverse of Madness) firmly establishing the existence of the multiverse, it would seem that Sony Pictures has grabbed this idea with both hands, using it as a way of doing their own thing while being tenuously connected to the hugely successful Disney MCU. The evidence of this, admittedly, exists in scenes during the credits and does not affect this movie overly. But you can rest assured that Sony definitely have plans for these films going forward.

Which means they are damned if they do, damned if they don’t. Make it connected to the MCU brings obvious comparisons. Make it without, draws the ire of those who want everything under one company. The use of the multiverse softens the creative differences somewhat.

And of course, there is lead star Jared Leto.

Jared Leto in the movie Morbius

Upon being cast as Michael Morbius, the film has had the ire of the comic book fandom, solely as a result of his other comic book movie appearance as The Joker in 2016’s Suicide Squad and Zack Snyder’s Justice League. This determined him to be “the worst Joker ever” and “shouldn’t be allowed near comic book adaptations.” This is another discussion, but despite all of this being entirely down to studio meddling nearly 6 years ago, a lot of the negativity around Morbius is completely unwarranted.

Leto does a good job as Morbius. He has the aloofness and loner vibe of the famous biochemist with unorthodox methods, and also channels good vampiric aura. He can be both sympathetic and unnerving.

The film itself is extremely simplistic, which also perhaps lends itself to unfair comparisons with the bloated and overreaching MCU once again. Man is ill, man finds cure, man becomes tormented monster, man finds absolution. As it follows a Spider-Man villain’s origin, it feels like half a movie; the part of a traditional comic book movie that gives us sympathy for the devil, and here is the film’s major flaw.
Its villain.

If Sony Pictures really plans to make movies for comic book villains, it needs to get the villains for these villains sorted out. Enter Matt Smith, the former Dr Who making slightly more impression in a genre movie than he did in Terminator Genysis. Who is he playing? Literally the same character as Morbius. Same motivation, same powers, only he’s morally more evil. Come on. He isn’t even a character from the comics the film is based off of; an original, creatively-empty concept. Like with Venom, our final battle is just a mess of CGI as two identical… things… fight each other.

Of course, let’s not forget, there are several MCU movies that are guilty of exactly this, too.

A still from Morbius movie
Jared Leto after being told his film was undergoing reshoots again.

Speaking of the MCU again, Morbius can remind us of Edward Norton’s The Incredible Hulk, and not in a bad way. Somewhere between that and Blade. A distinct, late-90s and early-2000s, pre-MCU vibe.
Rated a 15 in the United Kingdom, Morbius is a much darker, more unsettling film than your Disney fare. Which is good to see, honestly. The MCU’s cookie-cutter formula is predictable now, and while this film isn’t incredibly memorable or necessarily worth a cinema trip, it isn’t a bad movie.

One thing that does, however, become bothersome, is the CGI. This is mostly subjective, but computer generated, elongated mouths on vampires is really irritating. There is something very I Am Legend with these effects on the vampires, which removes something of the actor’s performance. It is like when Bilbo does his scary face in Lord of the Rings. Kinda silly. You can do a lot with make-up, and vampire movies can especially benefit from this instead of over the top CG manipulation.

Overall, you have probably made up your own mind about the movie, but don’t listen to the overly negative press it is receiving. It isn’t a bad movie, just a simple one. A comic book movie from a past decade. It isn’t very connected to the MCU beyond a mid-credit scene, so if that’s all you’re interested in, don’t bother.

Not cinema trip worthy, but not ire-inducing either. What do you expect from the director of such middle of the road movies as Child 44, Safe House, and Life?

3 out of 5 stars

Additional Marshmallows: This film underwent some last-minute changes, visible even in this “final trailer”, which features Michael Keaton’s Adrian “Vulture” Toomes from the MCU. This scene no longer exists in the theatre cut, suggesting the film was altered in response to both the trailer’s reception, and also the new multiverse angle Sony/Marvel/Disney are now taking. While not as egregious as say… Suicide Squad… it is yet more studio meddling that directly impacts a film’s reception. Unfortunately.

Additional, additional Marshmallows: Who made these posters for Morbius? Why does it look like the Grinch in some of them??

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