Review: Morbius

Score:  C

Director:  Daniel Espinosa

Cast:  Jared Leto, Matt Smith, Adria Arjona, Jared Harris, Al Madrigal, Tyrese Gibson

Running Time:  104 Minuttes

Rated:  PG-13

"We are the few against the many."

Ever since Spiderman: No Way Home broke box-office records last December, introducing the world to the multiverse, the franchise has become a bit more complex. That web thickens with Daniel Espinosa's Morbius, an origin story for the vampire supervillain whose good intentions lead to grave consequences.

The film opens with a helicopter transporting a cage to a grey, mist-shrouded island in the middle of Costa Rica. Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) is on a mission as he hobbles with great difficulty on his two crutches, positioning himself at the mouth of a cave. He then slices open the palm of his hand and, as a roar of batwings echoes from inside, murmurs to the pilot, "if you're gonna run, do it now."

Though heavily uneventful, the opening hour of Morbius is, surprisingly so, well constructed and decent.

That last word isn't something either Marvel or Sony will be proud of; however, it should be noted that the foundation was laid adequately for a solid film.

Born with a rare blood disease, Michael Morbius has spent his life attempting to find a cure. In his downtime, he has nearly perfected the art of origami paper folding. A painful foreshadowing, the two beautifully merge when he decides to fold together human and bat DNA.

Due to the limitation provided by the government, and the red tape surrounding approved human trials, Morbius and his beautifully available lab assistant, Adria Arjona's Martine (who is also a doctor), travel to international waters off the coast of Long Island to test their first subject: Michael himself.

Once his body has been pumped with the newly spun serum, it is only a matter of minutes before things become a bit dark. Outside of Michael's sudden ability to walk, he is gifted with amazing cheekbones, killer abs, and a chiseled back. They compliment his newly minted fangs and claws and a sudden burst of strength and speed.

Morbius also has a strong desire to consume human blood. He needs it every six hours to retain control over his instincts. Though he has already invented artificial blood, the blue pack will only trick his body for so long.

Those expecting your standard Marvel film should know that what director Daniel Espinosa has crafted is more horror than anything else. While there are occasional Marvel tropes, the film's roots lie outside the typical superhero mantra.

As a result, Morbius gets purplish flairs as he climbs building exteriors and rides air currents through subway tunnels. His friend turned nemesis Milo, played by the often brilliant Matt Smith, gets the same, only blue. Spoiler alert: neither is cool.

But all this might have worked had there been a unique or engaging story to fly alongside. Instead, we witness a recycled narrative that fails to generate tension as we see two men fighting for their life while battling over moral integrity. Deaths occur with no build-up, and there is never a significant connection to Leto's Morbius, thus never a reason to root for his safety.

The final act is less thrilling than you'd likely expect, the decisive battle lasting mere minutes as bad faces off with worse. Though a lack of characterization is a prominent issue, the film fails by refusing to solidify its backbone and clarify its purpose.

A wasted opportunity, Morbius is most interesting during the final minutes, when we can place it within the larger web of the franchise. It seems unfair. Delayed on several occasions due to the pandemic, DC's Batman flew in first. As a result, Marvel's rendition of Batman often appears cloudy. Is the film fine? Sure. But by Marvel standards, it's quite ordinary.


About Stephen Davis

Stephen Davis
I owe this hobby/career to the one and only Stephanie Peterman who, while interning at Fox, told me that I had too many opinions and irrelevant information to keep it all bottled up inside. I survived my first rated R film, Alive, at the ripe age of 8, it took me months to grasp the fact that Julia Roberts actually died at the end of Steel Magnolias, and I might be the only person alive who actually enjoyed Sorority Row…for its comedic value of course. While my friends can drink you under the table, I can outwatch you when it comes iconic, yet horrid 80s films like Adventures in Babysitting and Troop Beverly Hills. I have no shame when it comes to what I like, and if you have a problem with that, then we’ll settle it on the racquetball court. I see too many movies to actually win any film trivia contest, so don’t waste your first pick on me. My friends rent movies from my bookcase shelves, and one day I do plan to start charging. I long to live in LA, where my movie obsession will actually help me fit in, but for now I am content with my home in Austin. I prefer indies to blockbusters, Longhorns to Sooners and Halloween to Friday the 13th. I miss the classics, as well as John Ritter, and I hope to one day sit down and interview the amazing Kate Winslet.