Film Review: Morbius (2022)

At a hospital in Greece, young Michael Morbius is on indefinite stay for a rare blood condition. One day, a young boy (promptly nicknamed Milo) shows up with the same illness as Michael, and the two quickly bond. While other kids outside the hospital mock the duo for their illness, Michael and Milo find solace in comparing themselves to the Spartans: “The few against the many.” When a piece of hospital machinery malfunctions and puts Milo’s life on the line, Michael triumphantly repairs it using a spring off his ballpoint pen. Naturally, this catches the attention of Dr. Emil Nicholas (Jared Harris), who promptly decides Michael’s skills are better suited elsewhere, and sends him away to hone his talents. 

Fast-forward 25 years; we see Michael Morbius now working under the title of “Doctor” (and played by Jared Leto). He has made history by creating the first safe, artificial blood for humans. Michael turns down the Nobel Prize he is offered for this achievement, since he has his sights set even higher: a cure for the illness that has plagued his and Milo’s life for all these years. 

Michael visits Milo (played now by Matt Smith) and reveals his plan for a potential new cure. His plan involves a very illegal procedure of splicing human DNA and bat DNA, and so he heads out to international waters with his colleague Martine (Adria Arjorn) to perform it. Surprise, surprise… the procedure goes sideways; Michael, using himself as a test-subject, successfully cures his blood disease, but finds himself facing an unquenchable thirst for blood — he has become a living vampire. 

Morbius is the third film to be released as part of Sony’s Spider-Man Universe — the same one that houses Venom and its 2021 sequel, but also has some crossover with the main Marvel Cinematic Universe. Despite the mediocrity of the aforementioned Venom films, the negative early reviews, and the SIX DELAYS, I was excited to finally see Morbius. By all means, it looked like it could be a unique and gritty take on a superhero/villain origin story. Another positive note was the inclusion of Daniel Espinosa, whose previous film, Life, was a wildly entertaining (albeit derivative) sci-fi thriller.  

Morbius certainly shines the brightest when we get those welcome glimmers of stylistic integrity. Visually and directorially, this doesn’t always feel like a complete cookie-cutter movie; there’s great CGI, fun POV shots, and exhilarating camera work. But despite its unique feeling stylistically speaking, Morbius’ script is… so unnecessarily unoriginal. It draws from influences like David Cronenberg’s The Fly for its premise but feels just like any other Marvel origin film in its execution. 

Even despite its predictability, the plot is annoyingly erratic both in its editing and its tone. The cuts leave zero room for scenes to breathe and make the shorter-than-necessary runtime feel bloated. It also means that one minute the film feels like a monster movie, the next like a dead-serious drama, and the next like a corny romance — it’s all over the place. Also, at no point did I think “Man, could this movie use a quirky dance sequence,” and yet… here we are. 

Leto’s performance here isn’t terrible. Overall, his execution is very reserved in a way that will likely divide audiences on its overall quality; you could make a strong case for it both being subtle and being lackluster. For me it was a large mix of both… one scene he might seem well nuanced and the next like he’s just rehearsing his lines. Still, it’s nice to see a bit more of a contained and less eccentric performance from Leto, especially after his very “out there” role in House of Gucci last year.

Every other character is completely underutilized. There are about five supporting characters who kinda just… show up every now and then without actually doing all that much. One such example is the main villain (who shall remain nameless here due to ~spoilers~); I think their performance is the best in the film but ultimately their character’s inclusion in the first place feels unwarranted and wholly unnecessary. 

It’s not that Morbius bites off more than it can chew, but that it pretty much forgets how to chew entirely. There’s the occasional glimmer of a good movie here, but those moments are fleeting and overshadowed by the horrendous editing and script. By the time the credits roll, Morbius comes across as less of a movie and more of a really expensive Snickers Bar ad: “You’re not you when you’re hungry.”

(Not sponsored)

Overall rating: 3/10

Published by Jeremy Bader

Aspiring writer, film and music lover, drummer.

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