MORBIUS movie review – The Next Great Scientist Turned Vampire Sort of Superhero?

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Director: Daniel Espinosa
Starring: Jared Leto, Matt Smith, Adria Arjona, Jared Harris, Al Madrigal, and Tyrese Gibson
Movie Length: 1 hour 44 minutes

Morbius, the latest movie based on a Marvel Comics character, has a lot of strikes against it. Strike one: Morbius falls well below even a character like Ant-Man in the name recognition front. I doubt few if any people were clamoring for a standalone movie with this character (except Sony execs trying to milk their Marvel license for all its worth). Strike two: Even though this is a Marvel character, this does not fall within the Marvel Cinematic Universe because he falls under the Spider-Man family of characters that Sony still owns the rights to. Spider-Man has joined the MCU via an agreement between Marvel and Sony, but Morbius is not part of that deal. In this respect, this movie is more akin to Venom (and I guess they are in the same universe but I’m not sure). Potential third strike: Morbius is played by Jared Leto. Ever since his putrid performance as the Joker, I just haven’t dug him. But luckily, he does an admirable job in this movie, avoiding the dreaded third strike.

Morbius is a scientist with a rare blood disease who makes an experimental cure involving vampire bats (of course?) and then tries it on himself (of course!) to disastrous effect (Yo, scientists! Stop trying your experimental drugs on yourself, it never works!) Morbius is a tragic, anti-hero type character as opposed to a superhero and the movie plays more like a vampire movie than a comic book flick. The tone and cinematography is dark, reminding me again of Venom, but with less attempts at humor. The special effects fall below the quality of Marvel or DC movies, including a lot of slow-mo because… bats are fast? On the positive side, the movie does an admirable job with the Morbius makeup, capturing the hair and uplifted nose that I associate with the comic character.

Morbius has smaller stakes than you usually find in a comic book movie. There’s really nothing to worry about beyond how messed up Morbius’ life is getting. And then, it just kind of ends, with the obligatory setup for the hoped for sequel. The final curiosity is the two slapped on end credits scenes. I normally love end credits scenes and ties to other movies, but in this case they felt so random it was kind of jarring. Morbius probably isn’t as bad as the press it is getting, but you will literally figure everything out before it happens.

So, who will like Morbius? If you liked the Venom movies, I think you’ll find Morbius fits right in. Fans of vampire movies can see the movie without knowing anything about the comics (I’m a major comic book fan and he’s even too much of a deep cut for me to know much about). Morbius is not a great movie, and it probably isn’t even a good one, but it’s an ok way to pass the time. While it doesn’t break any new ground, it does manage to avoid the kind of plot holes that actively make me mad and Jared Leto exceeded my expectations. 

If you’d like to hear Tracey and I discuss Morbius, here is the link to Through the Lens: https://anchor.fm/darren-shulman/episodes/Morbius-Review-e1gibfl

Grade: 6.5 out of 10.


Morbius is now playing in theaters.


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