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Review: Morbius

Riding high from Spider-Man: No Way Home, Sony crashed back down to Earth for the unbelievably bland Morbius, the latest movie in their bizarre Spider-Man side universe.

Taking place in the same universe as the Venom movies, Jared Leto stars as Dr. Michael Morbius.  Suffering from a rare genetic blood disorder that weakens his body and requires multiple blood transfusions daily, Michael is obsessed with finding a cure but also has found time in his career to create a world-changing synthetic blood that has saved thousands of lives.  Believing the secret to curing his disease is South American vampire bats, he creates a serum and uses himself as the test subject, which cures his condition but also turns him into a living vampire with an insatiable thirst for blood.  His artificial blood initially works to tamper his thirst but Michael has to figure out how to control his new condition before he can’t.  The movie’s plot is nothing you haven’t seen dozens of times before from various superhero origin stories or classic monster movies and it doesn’t do anything remotely new or interesting.  The way the plot is laid out is also sloppy as there’s a mess of flashbacks and flashforwards in the first half that adds nothing clever to the storytelling and just causes confusion until you realize when and where you actually are in the story and there are seemingly large chunks of backstory and plot details that were either removed or just never added.  The attempts at world-building, mostly in post-credits scenes, are also terrible and sloppily done and it doesn’t bode well for Sony’s solo attempts without the help of Kevin Fiege and the MCU proper going forward with stuff like Madame Web and Kraven the Hunter.

The cast doesn’t really have anything to work with and for the most part, they all feel like they are on tranquilizers with no energy or fun and/or unique characterizations.  Jared Leto, for good or for ill, usually has some sort of unique quirk or a crazy personality on display in his various roles, like The Joker or Paolo Gucci but his Michael Morbius is just a generic, bland protagonist. He definitely should have taken a page from Tom Hardy and leaned into more over-the-top acting, especially when he’s in full-on vampire mode.  Almost everyone falls into the same trap of bland, uninteresting, stock character roles and actors like the great Jared Harris are absolutely wasted. Matt Smith does what he can as the antagonist, Michael’s surrogate brother Milo, but it’s nowhere near enough.  The only other person injecting some life into his character is Al Madrigal as FBI Agent Rodriguez, the partner to a glowering and one-note Tyrese, who adds some amusing one-liners and observations to the escalating situation surrounding Morbius.  If you were holding out hope for at least some Michael Keaton in the movie, almost everything in the trailers is not in the movie and he only shows up in the terrible and baffling post-credits scenes.

Action-wise, Morbius is also bland and uninteresting and a lot of the action is dark and muddy, making it hard to tell what the hell is even happening at times.  Seemingly to correct this, there are points where the action will go into slow motion but I think we’d all probably prefer clear action for the whole sequence and it feels similar to, in particular, the final battle from the first Venom that was CGI balls of goo slapping into each other.  There are glimmers of cool or interesting visual stuff, like Morbius’ echolocation or his Nightcrawler-style teleportation fighting style but there’s not enough to make the movie worth watching just for that.

Morbius is a humdrum superhero origin that doesn’t do anything you haven’t already seen a dozen or so times before and there are no performances or action set pieces to balance things out.  It’s overall just a completely forgettable comic book movie that is nowhere near good enough to recommend or insanely bad enough to make fun and it doesn’t leave a great impression for the future entries in whatever the hell Sony is doing in their corner of the Marvel Multiverse.

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