Director: Daniel Espinosa
Writers: Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless
Starring: Jared Leto, Matt Smith, Adria Arjona, Jared Harris, Al Madrigal, and Tyrese Gibson
The character Morbius, known as The Living Vampire, has finally received his own film. The character was created over fifty years ago, by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane, as a reaction to the Comics Code Authority relaxing and allowing certain supernatural characters to appear in comics. At first, he was seen as a throwaway Spider-Man villain, but over the years has grown a cult following.
Dr Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) has dedicated his life to find a cure for a rare blood disease that he suffers from. The cure isn’t just for him, but his childhood friend Milo (Matt Smith) as well. With both of them running out of time, Morbius turns desperate and takes a vampire bat, creates a serum and turns himself into a vampire. The cure is more of a curse though, as Morbius can’t control it and accidentally kills a group of mercenaries. He tries to keep it away from Milo, who steals the serum and takes it, without feeling any of the guilt of murdering.
The film is simply not great, but it’s still entertaining and never drags or feels boring. If anything, the pace is too quick, with characters not being developed enough and some messy plot points that feel incredibly forced, just to move everything forward.
Jared Leto is really good as Morbius. He seems a lot more grounded and less over-exaggerated as he was in Suicide Squad or last years House of Gucci. He’s quiet and focused. Matt Smith also makes a good villain, and seems to be having fun with the role, shouting and dancing throughout the plot. There just isn’t enough substance with the characters. Most of their character building comes through a short sequence where they are both children, with Morbius coming across as a loner who doesn’t get close to the other children.
When Milo first arrives at the clinic, he’s called Lucien, but Morbius renames him as he has with everyone else who has stayed in the bed next to him. At first Morbius is cold towards him, until Lucien nearly dies moments later, Morbius saves him and then they’re lifelong friends. It happens almost as quickly as that last sentence, and is one of the stranger moments in the film. Morbius renames Lucien as Milo, in an almost spiteful and childish act, and that just becomes his name that everyone calls him. It’s not really brought up again in the film.
Some of the things that happen just don’t make sense. At one point Morbius jumps up a stairwell, taking multiple floors at a time, and then reaches the roof. He’s being chased by an FBI agent, played by Tyrese Gibson, who manages to reach the roof moments afterwards, without any problems. He’s not out of breath and doesn’t seem phased by how quickly Morbius was moving. It feels like this was a set-up for something later, and the FBI agent has some kind of power, but it’s not revealed later. There are little bits like that all the way through. When Morbius is on the run, he manages to just find a new lab instantly, without any issues. Because the pace is so quick, it’s not that much of a problem, but the plot does start to crumble the more you think about it after the film ends.
The absolute worse thing about the film, and something that is beyond cringy, and eye-rolling is the other FBI agent, Alberto “Al” Rodriguez (Al Madrigal). He’s there purely to add comic relief to the film, and every joke just doesn’t work. There’s not one moment of the film, beyond Matt Smith’s dancing, that comes close to being funny. The agent being there at all just makes you notice how humourless the rest of the film is.
Morbius is braindead entertainment, and on that level it works. It’s not a great film by any stretch, but it’s not boring.
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