Production Companies: Columbia Pictures, Marvel Entertainment, Arad Productions, Matt Tolmach Productions
Director: Daniel Espinosa
Producers: Avi Arad, Matt Tolmach, Lucas Foster
Scriptwriters: Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless
Main Cast: Jared Leto, Matt Smith, Adria Adjona, Jared Harris, Al Madrigal, Tyrese Gibson
Release Date: April 1st 2022 (US)
Running Time: 104 minutes
Ah yes, everyone’s new favourite film of the year: Morbius. Whatever your opinion of Marvel and Sony’s latest ‘hit’ film, there are at least some positives to the film like Jared Leto’s and Matt Smith’s performances. But then again the film has been making money at the box office so we will undoubtedly see another chapter in Sony’s Spiderman Cinematic Universe eventually leading to a Sinister Six film maybe? SPOILER alert for the review. Now, let’s get into the review of the film.
In a Greek hospital, Michael Morbius (Leto) meets his adoptive brother, Lucien (Smith) who he renames Milo. Both boys bond over their desire to be ‘normal’ due to their shared blood illness. Their adoptive father (and hospital director) Nicholas (Harris) arranges for Michael to attend medical school in New York while he works on a cure for him and Milo.
The Morbius Experiment
25 years later, we see the now Doctor Michael Morbius refusing a Nobel Prize for his work with synthetic blood. Are we sure this wasn’t written by the same guys who did the Amazing Spiderman 2? His colleague Martina Bancroft (Adjona) discovers he has captured dozens of vampire bats in Costa Rica in the hope of curing his condition. He then informs Nicholas and Milo of his illegal experiment before hiring a mercenary vessel to facilitate it in international waters. Can we just retire this plot point about international waters because that’s not how they work…
Anyway the experiment cures Morbius’s blood condition… by making him into a vampire. Long story short he then murders the crew, drinks their blood and erases the footage once his bloodlust subsides. Oh, he also contacts the authorities like a good little murderous vampire philanthropist.
Milo finds out about the cure
After returning to New York and going through the obligatory superhero power discovery phase Morbius subsists on synthetic blood until it no longer satisfies him. By this time FBI agents Simon Stroud (Gibson) and Al Rodriguez (Madrigal) deduce the victim’s links to Morbius. Around this time Milo realises that Morbius has been cured but is furious when he finds out Morbius won’t cure him too. Whilst visiting a hospitalised Bancroft, Morbius finds a nurse drained of her blood.
Like the good little vampire philanthropist he escapes but gets caught and arrested. Luckily, Milo offers to use his money and influence to free him. Then, Morbius realises Milo took the cure and killed the nurse so confronts him. However, Morbius doesn’t give into his bloodlust (like Milo) so unable to hurt his brother he flees.
The showdown between Morbius and Milo
Morbius then meets with Bancroft to work out what to do about Milo. He then acquires a new lab to develop an anticoagulant to kill Milo (and also himself like a good little vampire philanthropist) Stroud and Rodriguez then find footage of Morbius’s attacks and because the plot has to advance they release it to the media. Nicholas then gets involved as he recognizes Milo so pleads with him to stop which goes about as well as you’d expect. Because of his perceived preference for Morbius, Milo kills him after he calls Morbius.
Morbius then watches Nicholas die as Milo attacks Bancroft. Morbius makes it to Bancroft but she dies in his arms so he drinks her blood. Finally Morbius confronts Milo and uses a swarm of bats to inject the anticoagulant, killing Milo. Morbius flies off with his bats mourning the loss of his loved ones and embracing his life as a vampire. However, swerve! Bancroft wakes up with her new vampire powers.
Mid Credits Scene
In the mid credits scene, Adrian Toomes (Vulture) is transported to Morbius’s universe. Assuming his transportation has something to do with Spiderman, Toomes suggests they team up and work together.
Editing in Morbius
To begin my analysis of Morbius I’m going to discuss the editing (and at points the lack of it) Take as an example the opening 15 minutes of the film. The film jumps between the present and past about 3 times in 15 minutes. The main problem with this is it creates confusion over when and where any of the events are taking place. So when the film is jumping from the present day to 10 years previously to the present again. So how does this affect the audience? Well, to put it mildly it disorientates them badly.
This only serves to add to the confusion some of the audience might feel because of a lack of understanding about where the events of a film are taking place especially when a lot of the early film is flashbacks to provide context for a character’s actions in the second and third acts. Another bad side effect of Morbius’s editing is it makes following his journey from reluctant to kill vampire philanthropist to killing when necessary vampire philanthropist difficult to follow.
Morbius and the SCU
The next part of my Morbius analysis is how it links up with the rest of the Sony Cinematic Universe (SCU). Note I’m calling it that just for easy referencing or is it a thing? Anyway, the main link between Morbius and the rest of what is becoming the SCU is the mid credits scene. As mentioned above, the mid credits scene sees the Vulture fly over to the SCU where he meets everyone’s favourite vampire philanthropist. While some Marvel fans are complaining about how Vulture showed up with no prior connection other than to set up a potential big showdown with Spiderman in some capacity then let me remind you of Venom: Let There Be Carnage.
In that film’s end credits, Venom appears to set up a ‘showdown’ with Spiderman only for it to never happen. So, this point about Marvel getting lazy with introductions is a bit flawed and it only serves to reinforce how tedious multiverses in films can be.
Morbius and Milo in Morbius
For the final part of my Morbius analysis, I’m going to discuss the performances of the two vampires: Jared Leto and Matt Smith as Morbius and Milo respectively. So, let’s start with Matt Smith’s performance as Milo. Considering how long Smith held off joining a superhero franchise, this performance as Milo was just fine in a fairly meh film. While the performance of Milo is fine, the performance had plenty of unfulfilled potential because of how the script used Milo.
However, you can’t spell unfulfilled potential without Jared Leto’s character in Morbius having a lot of unfulfilled potential. Man, that was a wordy segue….. Anyway, the script manages to give Leto very little to work with yet he still gives a very decent performance. This potential could have been a nuanced performance about a man struggling with the implications of creating a cure that is also a curse. Instead we got a decent performance in a meh film. So much missed potential…..
To summarise Morbius, a meh film with some decent performances from Leto and Smith that fails to live up to the potential that it has. But it at least sets up the much teased Sinister Six in both the SCU and MCU.
Overall Rating: 5.5/10 – Above Average
Target Audience: 15+
Content Warning: Moderate Violence and Gore, Mild Profanity, Mild Alcohol and Drug References, Moderate Frightening Scenes