Basically: A sick scientist turns himself into a “living vampire” trying to cure his condition for himself and others who suffer.
Oh, the much delayed and much-maligned Morbius from Sony Pictures. The second of the Sony-made movies from Spider-Man rivals, foes, and allies. Back when Morbius was announced, there was also a Silver Sable and Black Cat movie, a Silk project, and much more. Since the success of both Venom movies and now with a Kraven the Hunter movie in the pipeline, we finally, after many pandemic pushbacks, get Jared Leto as THE LIVING VAMPIRE, MICHAEL MORBIUS!
So who is Morbius, you ask? He’s a scientist, a genius—because all superheroes/villains/antiheroes are geniuses—who is afflicted with a rare and deadly blood condition that leaves him weak. He works on a cure, mixing human DNA with vampire bat DNA which he then tests on himself. Like all good plans to self-test new discoveries, Morbius is turned into a new type of being. But unlike classic vampires, he’s not dead and none of his powers come from magic.
By explaining the character’s background, I’ve also explained the setup of this movie. Morbius is very, very close to how the character has been portrayed in the comics, except he hasn’t run into Spidey…yet. Jared Leto plays the title character quite well. I know people have issues with him but he’s still a good actor, plus he’s not doing any weird accents or anything. He’s believable as sickly Michael as well as superpowered Michael who’s fighting his new vampiric urges.
Matt Smith plays his best friend and brother Lucien, who he calls Milo. Milo is also afflicted with the same condition as Michael. The film needed to add a character to be the bad guy since Morbius is usually an antagonist. Smith seems to enjoy playing a bad guy here as he hams it up.
Adria Arjona plays Martine Bancroft, Michael’s scientific partner and conscious. Arjona gets enough to do but, at the same time, you want a bit more. Martine is the type of character you expect her to be as Michael’s love interest (which she is in the comics) but she also has an interesting dynamic with Smith’s Milo. Jared Harris plays Michael’s and Milo’s doctor/father figure Nicholas who does a serviceable job in this type of role.
Next, we have my guy Tyrese Gibson as Simon Stroud, an FBI agent who investigates and chases Michael throughout most of the movie. Stroud is very stern and no-nonsense, which Tyrese does well. I expect him to be in more of Sony’s Spider-Man Universe movies as the leading authority figure coming after each random Spidey villain tearing up the cities.
The effects in Morbius are pretty impressive. They are distinctive and give a unique look to Morbius’ abilities as he uses them. The CG doesn’t try to blend in perfectly. When characters transform, the CG effects feel like digital makeup, like an updated take on the late 80s/early 90s stuff. Leto looks very close to how the character looks in the comics. The film uses wispy smoke and fog-like effects on Morbius’ moves and how he sees with echolocation. There are a lot of little effect details the VFX studio did that impressed me.
There might be too much slow motion for some, coupled with the use of freeze frames, but it reminds me of comic book splash pages. Morbius feels like a Marvel miniseries from the 80s or 90s brought to life. I admire that to a point. You get a whole story and understanding of the character in a very simply told package. And, y’all, it’s a little over 100 minutes. IN AND OUT, BAYBEEEEE!
With that being said, this movie isn’t for everyone and it’s not good good but it is entertaining. After the movie was over, most of the fellow critics hated it, which matches how the general audience feels about what they’ve seen in clips so far. However, Morbius has a very classic, simple, genre-movie charm, almost like superhero movies from before the MCU. Post-MCU, we talk about those films like they were terrible and, while some were, some were perfectly fine.
After the screening I spoke to my friend, fellow critic Ulysses Campbell (host of Fantastic Forum), and I called the movie an Eggo. You see, sometimes you can take the time to make the batter and cook up some tasty waffles or go to a restaurant and get some bussin’ Belgian waffles. You might even go to a waffle house and get some quality. But sometimes…sometimes, you don’t have time for that. That’s when you pop some Eggos into the toaster, heat them up, and eat them, and those Eggos are good. They are not great, and they are nowhere near as good as waffles made from scratch, but they can do. And that’s what Morbius is and does—it can do, it’s an Eggo. And I enjoyed the Eggo.
In the End: Morbius is a throwback to a simpler and less sophisticated era of superhero movies. It’s not terrible, great, or even so bad, it’s good—it’s just super average.