On April 1, “Morbius” was released to theaters. This is the latest Marvel movie distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing that isn’t necessarily connected to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The film centers around Dr. Michael Morbius, portrayed by Jared Leto, who is a world-renowned scientist specializing in blood-borne diseases and who he himself suffers from a rare and debilitating blood condition. Morbius searches for a cure for himself and his childhood friend, Milo, who has the same illness and is played by Matt Smith in the film. In this search, he performs unethical and dangerous experimentation on himself using vampire bat DNA and turns himself into a vampiric monster that must feast on human blood to survive.
Despite being centered around a Marvel character, this movie might have flown under a lot of radars. The film was originally set to release in 2020 and was subsequently delayed six times. But it is finally here, and although a lot of people might not realize it is out or have heard nothing but bad things, there are good elements that might make it worth a watch.
The first thing that needs to be pointed out about the film is that, despite what trailers would have you believe, there is little to no connection to Spider-Man or other Marvel characters in the vast majority of the film. In fact, the biggest connection that is there — Michael Keaton’s character, Vulture, from the film “Spider-Man: Homecoming” that was teased in the film’s trailers — is barely in the movie, and his appearance is perhaps one of the worst parts of the story. Vulture’s appearance takes away from the ending and Michael Morbius’ arc in addition to creating a convoluted and confusing ending to the film. This film would have been much better off being left alone, not forced to connect with any larger universe or tease any future crossovers or franchises, much like “Venom,” another Sony Pictures Releasing/Marvel movie series.
The best part of the film is definitely the performances by the main actors. Leto and Smith play their roles as the movie’s protagonist and villain, respectively, incredibly well and the chemistry between those two characters makes for some great scenes. Every moment that Smith’s character is on screen is great and the actor has clearly made the role his own. Leto played Morbius as a tormented genius in a way that made him fade into the character instead of feeling like it was Leto playing a role, which a lot of well-known actors can’t always do. Adria Arjona also does a great job playing Morbius’ colleague and love interest Martine Bancroft and was able to give a solid performance without being overshadowed by these powerful vampiric beings that the film focuses on.
Where the movie falls short, though, is its writing and plot. It’s not great or terrible — it mostly just is. It’s nothing that hasn’t been seen in some form multiple times in the dozens of superhero and comic book films of the last decades. The film tries to tell a horror story and a superhero story at the same time and ends up not quite hitting either. The film could have benefited greatly by leaning a lot more into the horror and the psychological elements of a man fighting back against the monster he is becoming, and possibly even an R rating to amp up these elements to tell a story that actually is new to the genre of comic book films.
If you liked “Venom” and generally like superhero and comic book movies, this could be worth a watch. However, one can definitely wait until it goes to streaming or digital in a few months. There is definitely something there in this movie and there is potential in watching it, but it feels both too rushed at less than two hours and also drawn out at the same time. Overall though, it’s not as bad as people seem to be letting on. It’s definitely not something everyone would like, but it’s worth a shot and is at times fun.
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars