Jared Leto and the MCU bring us a new Superhero. But does Morbius fly into the night or crash down with a wet splat?
The world has been waiting for Jared Leto’s first MCU appearance. His introduction movie ‘Morbius’ has been constantly delayed for over two years. But during that time, we have been kept entertained by posters, trailers, and still images. We have looked at these with excitement. Here we have a new superhero to cheer for. His introduction will lead to interactions with Spider-Man and Venom surely? The three are bound to meet up and have a comic book movie fight for the ages, right? The film has finally seen the light of day. It is now showing in theatres across the globe. But the question remains: Is the film worth the wait? Or should it have remained hidden in the shadows forever?
To be totally honest with you, the result is a combination of both. At times the film takes to the sky and brings us some good entertainment. By the same token, however, when it hits the ground, it does so HARD. And just when you think the film is starting to hit its stride…it’s over. The end to the film isn’t as abrupt, say in the case of ‘Jurassic Park III.’ But you expect more to happen. But suddenly, black screen, end credits, goodbye. There are good elements in the film, some of which could so easily have been explored. But these are sometimes lost in a frenzy of special effects. And the film’s editing…believe me, it is terrible at times. There is an excellent film trying to claw its way out. But sadly, it never gets the chance.
Michael Morbius is a doctor. One who is suffering from a rare blood disease that is slowly killing him. As the film starts, we arrive at a cave via helicopter. Morbius is there in an attempt to gain some Vampire Bat DNA. He is attempting to create a cure, not only for himself but for his childhood friend, Milo, who is similarly affected. A flashback to their younger days explains a lot. Both were being treated in a hospital in Greece by Nicholas Morbius (Jared Harris, wasted here).
Both are antagonized by local children for their ailments. When Michael leaves, he gives Milo a letter to keep his spirits up. A gust of wind blows the letter from Milo’s hand and into the street below. The group of local children picks it up and mocks Milo with it. Milo accidentally hits one of the children in the face with his walking stick, causing him to be set upon by the others. Nicholas manages to save Milo, who then decides to beat the prone child on the ground to a pulp in anger.
MICHAEL AND MILO
Both Michael and Milo remain as close as brothers. Both are suffering from their rare condition. Michael tells Milo that he may have a way to cure them both. But to conduct this experiment, he will need to be on a ship in international waters as it is illegal. Milo agrees to fund this. Michael with his fiancee Martine (Adria Arjona), conduct the experiment onboard the ship. Michael injects himself with the DNA of Vampire Bats. The plan works. But with severe side effects. It turns Michael into a blood-drinking superhuman.
He has all the traits of the Vampire Bat, becoming more than human. Michael refuses to give Milo what he has created to spare him the same fate as himself. But Milo takes the formula and uses it on himself. Now, these adopted brothers are on opposite ends. Michael can control his bloodlust. But Milo doesn’t even attempt to, using his powers for evil. And a confrontation is fast approaching.
The film contains some rather nasty set pieces during its runtime. The sequence onboard the ship after Michael has injected himself is particularly nasty in places. It will give younger viewers nightmares and scare them. But it doesn’t exceed the film’s PG-13 rating. There are some crunchy sound effects too that may make some audience members wince. But, on the whole, it is (possibly) suitable for the whole family. The film is light and fast-paced. Sometimes too fast but we will come to that later on. But anyone expecting to see a spectacle in the same vein as ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ is in for a huge disappointment.
Visually, the film looks ok. At times dark and haunting, at others bright with some neon involved, it seems to suit the film. The visual effects, for the most part, are up to spec. But there are certain visual effects that are sorely lacking. You would have thought that having been delayed for so long, the filmmakers may have taken a bit more time refining the finished article. But not so. Some of the effects are just laughable. And a fantasy comic book movie it may be, but you should at least be able to believe what you are seeing. At times, it takes you out of the film and back to reality with a bump. And that is never good for a film like this.
Jared Leto and Matt Smith seem to be having a good time during proceedings. Smith especially gives a great performance as the villainous Milo. He is full of charm one minute, filled with murderous intent the next. We feel sorry for him during the early parts of the film. But by the climax, we are just baying for his (vampire) blood. Leto, meanwhile, gives a restrained performance for the most part. He does go full-on when his character is provoked. Or when he first transforms into his new incarnation. But he is never anything less than charming. And we feel for him every step of the way.
Tyrese Gibson, however, is almost a square peg in a round hole. The same can be said for Al Madrigal. Both play FBI agents hunting Morbius down, believing him guilty of murder. But their characters are so thinly written. So stupidly moronic at times, that you wonder why they actually appear in the film at all. Adria Arjona fares a little better but her role is of the token female. She is vital to the story one minute, cast aside as the threatened damsel the next. Again, the role is thinly written.
BEHIND THE SCENES
The film is directed well enough by Daniel Espinosa. The flair and style that is on offer here are, for the most part, pretty decent. Written by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless, the film is disjointed. Some parts of the story, they get spot on. Others leave a lot to be desired. To me, they simply plucked a story out of thin air, threw in the characters, and wrote the movie. Perhaps they should take a good look at the comic book stories next time before writing a comic book movie.
But even here lies a further problem. You know a movie is in trouble when it resorts to throwing in things you’ve already seen in better movies. And in this case, I noticed several scenes that appear to have been lifted from ‘Batman Begins.’ Yes, it could be described as a tribute to the ultimate Bat. But in copying some of these scenes, you feel like the film has been written lazily.
But the editing by Pietro Scalia, normally a staple of great movie-making, is a mess. You want to see what is going on. You want to be able to enjoy the action sequences when they occur. Here, we are in trouble. The action is so fast-paced, edited in such a fast way, that we CAN’T see what’s going on. Take the climax for example. We want to see the finale and everything it contains. But it is so in your face that you can’t focus on it.
CAMEOS AND MID-CREDITS STINGERS
I’m not going to spoil anything for you by saying this. But if you go into the film hoping for a cameo from either Spider-Man or Venom, you’ll be sorely disappointed. The pair do get vocal nods during proceedings but neither makes an appearance. There is a visual reference to Sony’s ‘Spider-Verse’ which you’ll pick up on instantly it appears in the film. But as for the stingers we have come to expect, there are no words. We get two during the end credits.
The first isn’t so bad to be fair. We can understand it in some way. And maybe even get invested in it. But the second is possibly the worst in any MCU movie ever. Marvel fans will be scratching their heads at it. It makes zero sense at all. And is improbable. It does hint at something but by that time, many Marvel fans will have tuned out. And again, it harkens back to the writers not doing their due diligence with the Sony MCU Universe.
The film is still an enjoyable one. But it most certainly is the weakest entry in Sony’s MCU. It can’t come close to what has been produced before. And I say this as someone who wasn’t a huge fan of ‘Venom: Let There Be Carnage.’ Compared to this film, Venom’s second outing is a four-star movie. But for all its faults, ‘Morbius’ is still an interesting and fun way to introduce the character to the world. This is thanks to Jared Leto and Matt Smith. Without the pair, the film wouldn’t be even half as good as it is. Going forward, you can see there could be a crossing with both Spider-Man and Venom. Hell, there could even be a meeting with Blade. Or Kraven The Hunter. But that all depends on how the world takes to this first film. Some may love it. Some may hate it. But I personally would like to see the character return once again. Next time, though, write him a better script. Or the audience may possibly be out for blood.
‘Morbius‘ is released by Sony Pictures and is out now in the United Kingdom and on April 1st in the United States. Book your tickets now.
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Carl Roberts is the News Editor of The Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force frequently!