Being the depressed, destructive drunk that I am, I saw Morbius in theaters on the Friday it was released. I’d seen the memes, I’d watched the releases get pushed, I hated Jared Leto. But I wanted to see if the film was as much of a dumpster fire as people said it was. In my unprofessional opinion, the film Morbius… sort of deserves the hate.
The obvious deficiencies in Michael Morbius
If you don’t care for the rabbit hole, then I’ll summarize. Jared Leto plays pale Edward Cullens-wannabe, shares overindulgent exposition with Eiza Gonzalez lookalike Adria Arjona, then gets into a fistfight with a drunken Doctor Who, and the movie ends before you realize we’re in the third act. It’s not bad, dude. It’s just… boring. It’s as lukewarm as Venom 2, as characterless as Jonah Hex and as poorly written as Battleship. It also, somehow, has graphics as aesthetic as Moonfall. That’s not a compliment. None of these are compliments. That’s not to say that the movie was bad, it was just lazy. I don’t mean to jump on the hate train and shit on Leto for being bland just to be cool. But he really didn’t have a chance at all, considering the terrible script.
There’s a few things to consider here. Morbius is a film made by Sony, a company that bought the film rights to Spider-man and a few other Marvel characters before Disney bought Marvel, and Jon Favreau created the MCU as we know it. The big Mick hates sharing, so there’s been this weird legal push-pull when it comes to movies involving Spider-man. Venom and Venom 2 are a product of this divorce. It’s why we have movies about a Spider-man villain, without starring the actual Spider-man. They tried it again here. Additionally, I suggest you listen to Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest as you read this review.
The root of the film’s issues are in its pacing and narrative structure. There was far, far too much time spent setting up the film. The vampire monster doesn’t even show up until the beginning of the second act, which was probably 30-40 minutes into the film. Morbius wastes a lot of time trying to get us to care for our main characters and believe in their relationship. They fail in setting these emotional relationships when they fall for the ‘show them as kids’ trope. This is what went wrong in Fan4tastic, as well. Far too much runtime was dedicated to the set up- with completely different actors- so when we get to the emotional climax, there’s not enough set up. Leto and Smith do share screen time, but it’s unemotional and nearly exclusively about furthering the plot, rather than developing the characters and their relationships.
But that’s sort of the thing.
They do sort of set things up and there are some motivations, but again, the structure is flawed. Morbius wants to heal himself from his disease in the first act- as does his frenemy in Loxius Crown (hey this name is really stupid). This is entirely wasted as soon as Morbius turns into a vampire because he immediately and expositionally realizes that he does not want to be a vampire anymore. The rest of the runtime is devoted to stopping Crown, but that’s not a central plot, that should be the plot as a result of conflicting desires. By the end of the movie, Morbius doesn’t figure out what to do about his little human blood addiction, and just beats up his old friend and makes new friends with some bats.
Bloodless Vampires, Bloodless Characters
Ok, let’s overlook poor narrative form and give them the excuse that they’re just experimenting. So… how come everything else is so bland? The film is framed like an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, complete with hospital sets, medical miracles, unearned drama and an overuse of voice overs. It, again, has pretty good CGI, but that doesn’t mask the fact that it’s pointless and unoriginal. Hell, the most aesthetically pleasing part of the movie were the opening and closing credits.
The end of the film is just a trailer for the next film that Sony hopes to shit out, or at least set up. We realize that
Eiza Gonzalez is now a vampire, the Vulture from Spider-man: Homecoming got cross-overed via Dr. Strange magic (during the events of Spider-man: No Way Home) and his character does a complete 180. Morbius is randomly in a desert, and he promises us a team up in the most unconvincing way possible.
See, the biggest problem with Morbius is that it lacks any sort of character. If you’ve been listening to the Pirates soundtrack, you’ll notice a certain jovial, adventurous spirit in the music, something that translates to the actual film very well. This is a credit to Zimmer, but that’s not the point. The reason I bring up this soundtrack is that it aptly demonstrates what it means to have character. The music ebbs and flows, excites and depresses, dances and saunters. Without even talking about how amazing the movies were, we can really derive the meaning of a fun, flavorful film just by listening to its music. Morbius lacks this, it lacks personality, it lacks originality and it lacks passion. A film without any of these traits has as little to offer us as any Vin Diesel film.
The failure is compounded even more when you realize just how seriously both Sony and the film took itself. The movie just isn’t that good. It doesn’t warrant the grit, it doesn’t warrant the excitement and it doesn’t warrant a second- or even a first- glance. It’s a cashgrab slapping us in the face with a worse depiction of vampires than Twilight. It’s blatant capitalism masquerading as fanservice, and that’s what sets it up for disappointment and that’s what sets it far, far behind any of the crap that the MCU can churn out, because at least they tried.
I’m sorry if I started out this review by making it seem like I was going to play Devil’s Advocate, because I did intend to do that. As I wrote, though, I realized I was just rooting for the underdog because I have a soft spot for losers.
Morbius is currently theaters, but you should probably just go see The Batman instead.