Morbius (AU - M/UK - 15/US - PG-13)

In a Word: Unredeemable

Morbius

Dr Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) in Columbia Pictures' Morbius. PICTURE: Jay Maidment/© 2022 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Sony’s “Spider-Man Universe” continues its trend of placing spider villains in starring roles. First there were the two Venom movies and now Morbius brings the tortured tale of the “Living Vampire” into the light. 

Dr Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) and his childhood friend Milo (Matt Smith) suffer from a rare blood disease which makes them crippled and weak. Morbius creates an experimental cure that fuses human and bat genes, which has the unintended effect of turning them into vampires. While Morbius seeks to restrain his hunger for human blood, Milo embraces his bloodthirstiness and newfound power. It is now up to Morbius to stop his former friend’s bloody rampage across New York City.

"In this third outing of the 'Spider-verse', Sony is cementing the flaws with the concept. Their attempt to turn super villains into heroic protagonists may have seemed like a good idea at the time. Certainly DC’s Academy Award-winning Joker demonstrated how a complex villain tale could be told by embracing the descent into madness and crime. However, Sony’s attempts to redeem these villains and present them as heroes is producing paper-thin plots and shallow characters."

At first there is some fun in discovering the new powers that Morbius gains. His super speed and acrobatics are shown with style and his echo-location is both cool and creepy. Once you delve beneath the surface special effects and examine the actual story and characters, however, Morbius begins to fall short.

The plot is predictable and the characters half-baked. The antagonist, Milo, has a confused agenda and it is never really clear what he is trying to achieve. At times it appears he is trying to convince Morbius to join him in a vampiric dynamic duo and the next moment he embarks on a murderous rampage that could only repulse his so-called best friend. 

The support cast includes love interest Martine Bancroft (Adria Arjona), a narrative strand which is never fully developed apart from some angsty looks of longing. The detective Simon Stroud (Tyrese Gibson) is poorly integrated into the plot and only serves to dish-up exposition on the super villains. The greatest crime of Morbius is how it squanders Jared Leto’s Academy Award-winning talents. Rather than allowing the actor to demonstrate his moral dilemma with acting ability, the film resorts to CGI monster faces to indicate his hunger and a clenched fist to show restraint.

In this third outing of the Spider-Verse, Sony is cementing the flaws with the concept. Their attempt to turn super villains into heroic protagonists may have seemed like a good idea at the time. Certainly DC’s Academy Award-winning Joker demonstrated how a complex villain tale could be told by embracing the descent into madness and crime. Sony’s attempts to redeem these villains and present them as heroes, however, is producing paper-thin plots and shallow characters. 

Morbius could have been an intense, complex tale about an anti-hero torn between his oath as a doctor to save lives and his need to kill as a vampire. Instead, we have a yet another vampiric beat 'em-up that sucks the blood right out of Spider-Man’s good name.