Always go into a movie optimistic. Sure there are many that we walk into with some judgements but for the most part always be ready to be surprised worst that could happen you walk out disappointed. It wears off. It is here where I say that the latest outing in the Sonyverse is yes a disappointment but one that is also so forgettable that any anger quickly wears off. MORBIUS the adaption of Marvel’s vampire hero, sometimes anti-hero, and yes sometimes villain is both tedious and boring but at the root of it all it is forgettable. Not even a Saturday afternoon watch. No this is a more see it playing on tv and you laugh remembering it exists and that you once paid to see it. It’s also another reminder that Sony has been doing a great job getting people into seats in hopes of giving them anything Spider-Man related and as sad as that may be it helps get lesser known characters like Morbius to be a household name. If only it was one worth mentioning.
There is no question that Jared Leto does not have the greatest reputation. Unless you’re one of the many die hard Thirty Seconds to Mars fans (possibly a cult) you probably have found his recent acting career exhausting. Last year’s HOUSE OF GUCCI where he portrayed Paolo Gucci became an internet meme and even created prayer circles in hopes of him missing out on an Oscar. So to have Leto join the Sony/Marvel Universe was an uphill battle. It honestly would have been more exciting to see him bring some of that extravagant behavior to Michael Morbius. Instead the film begins in Costa Rica where Doctor Michael Morbius is here to capture some exotic bats who exhibit vampiric behavior. Leto as Morbius is a drag. Trying to bring in a snarky cool guy Joe vibe it all falls flat as Leto delivers some stale jokes that fly by so fast you forget to laugh (not that you would if they were slowed down). Michael as a child was raised in a hospital (orphan? The film never says) where he suffers from a rare blood disease along with his surrogate brother (another orphan? The film still doesn’t say so!) Lucien. Michael however bestows the name Milo on him. It sticks. Now both adults Michael is the scientist and Milo (now played by Matt Smith) is funding all his projects. It’s actually quite fun to watch Leto and Smith play off each other. Leto may be a drag but Smith is fully hamming it up fully supporting Michael even if we all know where things are headed.
It doesn’t take long for them to get there (thankfully Morbius has a quick pace). Michael with his girlfriend Martine Bancroft (Adria Arjona bringing some heart to the film) travel to international waters where he can finally finish his studies and turn himself into a vampire as one does. Director Daniel Espinosa allows for some exciting slow motion fighting as Michael transforms into a vampire and learns his abilities. But even after Michael and the film have their obligatory flying in the sky moments the film just sort of continues to exist without any movement. Sure Michael battles his demons both literally and figuratively, and yes Milo uses the blood on himself to turn into a more horrific version of Michael but all that feels familiar to us that even the film doesn’t feel the need to build anything bigger or at least attempt something surprising. The entire middle of the film feels like a by-product of “we know you don’t care either so here’s some images.” Filmed in London but set in NYC the film never even tries to look like the big Apple. Some subway scenes are clearly the tube in London (I’m pretty sure if look close enough you’ll even see a sign clearly for London passengers). It also doesn’t help that the film suffers from a weak PG-13 rating that could have used some more blood and usage of R rating flexibility. Seriously it’s actually amazing to have a movie about vampires be this bloodless. To make matters worse even when the film tries to build a beauty and the beast love story between Michael and Martine neither are given enough to make it seem worthwhile. Arjona is a talent to watch but much like female characters of earlier superhero films she is sidelined to be the worrier and even worse victim. Matt Smith on the other hand uses every moment he can to go off the rails. He is a shining bizarre light in an otherwise grey film. He even gets his own Buffalo Bill moment and for that it’s hard to entirely despise this. Where the MORBIUS franchise goes from here seems to be set up already. This is a universe building movie after all and even with some truly horrendous post credit scenes you know Michael Morbius will be back in some fashion. Maybe by that time we will have forgotten that his bite doesn’t leave a single mark.
MORBIUS is in now playing in theaters everywhere