Morbius movie review: Jared Leto's MCU vampire feels like an expensive April Fool's joke, worst Marvel film ever
Morbius movie review: Marvel and Sony's vampire superhero film wastes the acting talent of Jared Leto and Matt Smith in a film that is so out-of-time, it feels like a bad parody.
As I sat down to watch Marvel and Sony's new superhero offering Morbius on Friday morning, a group of teens behind me were discussing with each other if they needed to have seen other movies before this one. Fifteen years ago, this would have been an absurd question. But in the post-MCU world, it is a valid query. How does this superhero film connect to the dozens I may have missed? Well, Morbius does and doesn't. It tries to be a stand-alone venture, while including Easter eggs from the larger Sony-Marvel universe. The only problem is that it does all that quite horribly and in the most boring fashion imaginable. Also read: Morbius early reviews are agonisingly bad, call Jared Leto-starrer 'worst Marvel superhero movie in a long time'
Quite simply put, Morbius is the worst offering from the Sony-Marvel slate of films. Given that Sony has previously given forgettable films like Fantastic 4 , that's a pretty low bar. In terms of how much it sucks, Morbius can compete with even the worst offerings from DC.
The premise of Morbius is simple. The film deals with biochemist Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) infecting himself with a form of vampirism while trying to cure himself of a rare blood disease. Director Daniel Espinosa provides our hero with a strong support cast in the form of Matt Smith, Adria Arjona, Tyrese Gibson, and Jared Harris. However, it all falls short because of shoddy writing.
Morbius uses all the tropes that superhero films did in the 90s- a tortured hero, a friend-turned-foe villain, a good-looking scientist/doctor that is the protagonist's love interest, and the father figure played by a noted actor. The thing is, in 2008 Marvel Cinematic Universe began and replaced these tropes (Guardians of the Galaxy) or improved upon them (Thor). Even DC grew with time and gave us The Batman just four weeks ago. In the face of all that, Morbius feels terribly out of place and out of time.
The film does not waste any time in establishing the characters or their motives. Wait, let me rephrase that. It does not bother doing it at all. The lynchpin of the narrative is the bond between Michael and his surrogate brother Milo (Matt Smith) and Michael's wish to save their lives yet, you never care about that bond. So when later it disintegrates, you really don't feel anything. The romance between Michael and his subordinate Dr Martine Bancroft (played by Adria) is forced. You are invested so little in the characters that a few die and you do not feel a thing. It makes the narrative pretty bland.
There are references to Venom and Spider-Man peppered in the story. It makes sense since Morbius was associated with these characters in Marvel Comics. But it feels like a bad product placement here. Morbius even attempts to build a larger universe with its multiple post-credits sequences, where it introduces an MCU character. But given how Marvel has perfected the art of making crisp post-credit scenes, Morbius falls flat here too. The scenes feel like a forced effort to connect Morbius to a larger universe. It does not feel organic at all.
One can hope that if the film doesn't have its heart in place, maybe it can make up for that with some visual effects. You'd be sadly mistaken! The odd blur effect used to show Morbius and Milo's heightened senses when they turn vampires distracts from the visuals, and the dark tone doesn't help. The film badly needs a colour correction.
The saddest part about the film is how badly it wastes the talent of its performers- most notably Jared Harris and Matt Smith. Why Jared even took up this role is beyond me. And Matt, my heart weeps for how Hollywood can't seem to know what to do with an actor of his calibre. The man has been The Doctor, Prince Philip, and even did the American Psycho on theatre. Yet, Hollywood seems to remember him only when it wants to cast a devious villain. They tried it as a cameo in Terminator: Genisys and in a full-fledged manner here in Morbius. And Matt pulled it off. He is the film's shining light, in parts overshadowing even Jared Leto. But he deserves better. And one can only hope this experience wouldn't turn him off of Hollywood.
And as for Jared Leto, he needs to rethink his career choices. An actor with so much talent should not be reduced to doing what he is. Over the last few years, much of what he has touched has turned to ashes. His Joker was sandwiched between two defining portrayals of the character by Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix. And I fear his Morbius will soon by outdone when MCU unveils its other vampire- Mahershala Ali's Blade. Go back to doing more of The Little Things, Jared. You're too good to be doing shoddy vampire flicks.
It's rare that a film gets almost everything wrong. And Morbius manages to achieve that spectacularly. Only watch Morbius if you are a die-hard Marvel fan or like meaningless action films, or quite simply want to watch something so bad that it's funny. Morbius, produced by Columbia Pictures in association with Marvel, and distributed by Sony Pictures, released in theatres across the world on April 1. Wait a second, is this an April Fools joke?
Director: Daniel Espinosa
Cast: Jared Leto, Matt Smith, Adria Arjona, Jared Harris, and Tyrese Gibson