Directed by: Daniel Espinosa
Premise: A spin-off of Sony’s Spider-Man film series. Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) experiments with vampire bats in search of a cure to his genetic disorder. He develops a serum that gives Morbius superhuman abilities and turns him into a vampire.
What Works: Morbius is frequently silly, even for a superhero spinoff, but the filmmakers recognize that and work in a satisfying amount of humor. It’s not the obvious self-aware comedy of Deadpool but rather a mordant black humor that is in keeping with Morbius’ vampire theme.
What Doesn’t: Morbius is disjointed in its storytelling and inconsistent in its filmmaking. The pacing is frequently off with the story lurching forward or rushing through set pieces and dramatic moments and the movie often feels like scenes are missing. (Quite a few moments from the Morbius trailer are not found in the movie.) The visual style is all over the place. The film starts out fairly grounded but once Dr. Morbius becomes a vampire the visuals oscillate between frightening and silly. Some of Morbius’ powers don’t make sense or aren’t visualized in a convincing way, especially his ability to fly. Morbius is similar to Venom in that both films are about a man who is suddenly granted superhuman powers but with a compulsion to feed on other human beings. However, Venom’s title character was interesting and the filmmakers successfully exploited the internal tension for drama. Neither of those qualities are found in Morbius. The doctor is a good man who has been afflicted with vampirism but the film does not do anything interesting with that internal conflict. Dr. Morbius doesn’t struggle with his hunger for human blood and the movie downplays the irresistibility of that craving. There’s little sense that Morbius might actually become an evil person in part because the filmmakers reveal too much too soon. The film also suffers from a lack of an external conflict. Since it’s clear Morbius won’t really go bad, there is nothing at stake and the film pushes Morbius into a conflict with another vampire for no reason. The story climaxes with an uninteresting superhero fisticuffs that we’ve seen in lots of other movies. The emptiness of that fight is evident in the underwhelming ending. Morbius concludes without really resolving anything. It just stops without addressing if or how Dr. Morbius has reconciled his need to feed on human blood.
Bottom Line: Morbius is a vacuous shell of a superhero origin story. The movie has the telltale signs of a tempestuous production and studio interference but whatever the circumstances, the resulting movie is scattershot and uninteresting.
Episode: #897 (April 10, 2022)