Morbius Movie review | Jared Leto and Matt Smith star in film with ludicrously pointless plot

Rating: 2 out of 5.

In short, the nature of Morbius‘ affliction is messy and contradictory and not worth thinking about for more than a few seconds

Altogether, it would be no surprise if Sony isn’t too confident about Morbius finally going toe-to-toe with the general public. 

But is the film as bad as these early warning signs indicate? Well, it’s not far off. Morbius has a dated plot worthy of a 2005 superhero cash-in that collides with visually confusing CGI to create a bit of a snooze fest. It’s not the worst superhero film ever made, but it’s certainly one of the most predictable in years.

Still, before we delve into Morbius’ multitude of mistakes, let’s get to know its main character a little better – and be warned, there are plot spoilers ahead.

Michael Morbius’ origin story is delivered like a vaccine appointment – injected all at once and over in the blink of an eye.

Michael was raised within a facility for individuals with incurable illnesses, protected by Jared Harris’ Dr Nicholas, where he meets eventual foe Loxias… no wait, it’s Lucien… or is it Milo? Later portrayed by Matt Smith as an adult, this character’s identity is unnecessarily muddled, sporting two different names that he’s referred to by during the movie.

Anyway, in these early days the two form a fast bond and commit themselves to curing their ailments, which is what later leads Michael into becoming the titular blood-sucking figure.

Flash forward a few years. In his adult life, Michael has become a doctor, committing himself to helping children with life-long ailments and famous for developing a form of artificial blood (the side-effect of his experimental endeavours into curing his own affliction).

Secretly, he’s been tinkering with genetic splicing using DNA taken from vampire bats, which Michael claims have self-regenerating properties. Once they finally strike the perfect balance, there’s nothing left but for Michael to become his own guinea pig, and I’m sure you can guess how that ends. 

It’s predictable mad-scientist stuff, though the story is familiar in other ways too. In fact, the entire structure of Morbius is strikingly similar to Sony’s other Spider-Man spin-off Venom 2: Let There Be Carnage, right down to a crossover-teasing post-credits scene.

In both, the hero accidentally gives the villain his power, they become a mirror image of one another, the villain kidnaps a loved one leading to a climactic showdown, and you’re home in time for tea. Sony appears to think it’s found the winning formula here, and they’ve certainly found a formula: it’s just a recipe for poison rather than success.

Jared Leto in Morbius
Jared Leto in Morbius Sony Pictures

Leto can be a polarising actor, with his performances running the gamut from Oscar-winning performances like Dallas Buyers Club’s Rayon all the way to his Super Mario-esque Paolo in last year’s House of Gucci.

Morbius lands right down the middle – Leto competently hits all the beats that are required of him, fulfilling the Tragic Hero stereotype as he battles first with his life-long illness and then his vampirism, but ultimately this is not a performance that will be commended or remembered down the line. 

Of course, any superhero is only as good as his arch-nemesis, but Morbius falls down here too. The development of Milo and Michael’s friends-to-enemies relationship is eye-rollingly predictable, to the point where you can predict what they will say to one another during a showdown; one proclaims their side-effect to be a curse, whilst the other embraces it as a blessing.

It is the most basic of villain characterisations we have seen time and time again and feels like writers Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless forgot they had to hand in a script until the night before the deadline.

Despite this, Smith is far and away Morbius’ best performer, delivering a playful villainous foil to the lacklustre moral heroics of Leto, gallivanting in clubs in sharply-dressed suits, revitalised with a positive (or maybe B-positive) attitude.

Milo’s dastardly antics are how Morbius folds in Tyrese Gibson’s character Simon Stroud, a role many actors would relish. Where else can you collect a paycheck for walking approximately 10 feet down a path, slightly scowling as you deliver your single line of the scene?

On the visual side, it’s evident that the film’s VFX teams were told to ensure Leto and Smith’s vampiric transformations look every bit as life-like as the creatures and aliens of the MCU, and to their credit, they do pull off a quite convincing appearance – but similar to Venom’s monochromatic goo monsters colliding, the biggest issue comes when they fight.

After Milo’s surprisingly short reign of terror over the Big Apple, he takes hostage paint-by-numbers romantic interest Martine Bancroft, played by the sadly underutilised Adria Arjona, leading Michael and Milo to face off in an anticlimactic final battle.

Matt Smith plays Milo in Morbius

Matt Smith in Morbius Sony Pictures

As they clash, the pair are often shrouded by monolithic chunks of CGI debris literally covering the screen, preventing you from seeing much of the action at all. It’s a complete state of visual confusion, and it’s often difficult to make out which of the two near-identical flying shapes is actually the hero.

Strangely, despite this film having been delayed for over two years, there are also some basic technical issues with the sound – conversations come across as quiet muffles compared to the cacophony of sound effects and dramatic score screaming over them. This could seem like nitpicking, but generally two basic qualities of the cinematic experience are being able to hear and see what is on screen.

Behind-the-scenes, it’s no secret that Sony has found some challenges in creating its own Spider-Man Universe against the monolithic success of the MCU, in no small part due to sucking up an iconic superhero’s villains into a narrative vacuum and trying to define them in a world without the web-slinger.

This time, Sony seems to have taken a page from the Marvel Studios marketing bible, but misinterpreted it along the way. From the off, it filled its trailers and marketing materials with Spider-Man Easter eggs and hints at how the film would connect to Tom Holland’s web-slinger, but for some reason the finished film exterminates almost all of these nods.

It’s a controversial move already, and further muddles the Sony Marvel universe’s status. Many have speculated as to which universe Morbius takes place in, given the (supposed) inclusion of Michael Keaton’s MCU character The Vulture and the Oscorp Tower seen in Andrew Garfield’s Amazing Spider-Man duology at the same time (both were glimpsed in marketing material).

So which universe is Morbius in? After seeing the film, the answer seems to be whatever Sony thinks will make it the most money at the time. This is most painfully transparent in Morbius’ nonsensical post-credits scenes: quite possibly some of the worst fans will have to watch in a long time.

Tyrese Gibson in Morbius

Tyrese Gibson in Morbius Sony Pictures

It’s rare that films can ever exhibit an objectively bad quality. After all, film is an immensely subjective experience. But ironically, this is Morbius’ greatest achievement, surpassing the negative hype to reach new depths of disappointment. 

Morbius is undoubtedly Sony’s greatest misstep so far – there’s little enjoyment to be had for both fans of the comic-book character and general audiences alike. The dated superhero movie mould from which Morbius has been cut has been long abandoned by movie studios, and for good reason. However, Sony doesn’t seem to realise that – or maybe it just doesn’t care, as long as it makes money.

Ultimately, Morbius sucks – just not in the way you’d expect.

Morbius is in UK cinema from Thursday 31st March.

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Scott Baber
Scott Baber
Senior Managing editor

Manages incoming enquiries and advertising. Based in London and very sporty. Worked news and sports desks in local paper after graduating.


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