With the plethora of Marvel films that have been released and that are still slated to drop in the coming months, there is understandably a higher level of expectations that follow from both fans and movie critics alike. The most recent offering that just dropped in cinemas this past week is Sony’s Morbius which stars Jared Leto as the titular vampire antihero. The film’s performance in the box office sales wasn’t great and it may be due to the negative feedback from fans and the movie reviews that have trashed the film. We still took the time to watch the film, with all the negative reception aside, to review and critique Morbius for ourselves using our Hype Meter.
Morbius Review: Who Is Morbius?
Morbius centers on an iconic Marvel character who is primarily known as a villain in the comics — often dueling it out with Spider-Man. The character falls under the mythological and supernatural world that Marvel at times dives into with stories on werewolves and vampires. Morbius is, by all means, a blood-thirsty vampire who crosses paths with another Marvel character on several occasions: Blade. Morbius or also known in the comics as The Living Vampire went on to become a brooding, gritty, and tragically flawed protagonist in his own series back in the 1990s which is what the film somewhat touches on.
Morbius is a former award-winning biochemist named Michael Morbius, who unfortunately has a rare blood disease. Due to a failed biochemical experiment with the using of blood from vampire bats, Morbius is imbued with pseudo-vampiric superhuman abilities and physical traits. This shift in storytelling made for an interesting plot for Morbius as he gained such abilities from science rather than supernatural means. Morbius for the most part appears human but does at times morph into a scary vampire-like appearance which is a reflection of his struggles to satiate his appetite for human blood. In the comics, Dr. Morbius also struggles to find an eventual cure for his horrific condition which he eventually accepts for a certain time by being a nightmarish vigilante whose actions often blur the line of villainy.
Prior to his transformation, Dr. Morbius already exudes a very gifted intellect as a biologist, biochemist, and neurologist with a Ph.D. in biochemistry. He is also a Nobel laureate and attended medical school with a specialization in hematology. As a pseudo-vampire on the other hand, Morbius possesses a unique set of powers but not all that we have come to know with the stereotypical and supernatural vampires of pop culture. He possesses a variety of superhuman powers, some of which are similar to supernatural vampires within the Marvel Universe, such as superhuman strength and speed, as well as heightened senses through night vision and echolocation. Morbius is forced to ingest fresh blood on a regular basis to sustain his life and vitality but does not possess any of the mystical vulnerabilities that supernatural vampires are subject to, such as garlic, holy water, and crucifixes, or silver. Furthermore, Morbius has a strong aversion to sunlight, thanks to his photo-sensitive skin.
Morbius Review Spoiler Warning
Most of these abilities are seen in the film and are actually the subject of some slightly interesting comedic punchlines. For the most part, the quick background information given on Morbius is what is also seen on the screen as the film tries to unravel the origin stories of the character while somewhat pointing to the possible direction of becoming a villain in the MCU. Morbius is portrayed as the protagonist with some heroic gestures but it also seems to have been done so to build on the future of the character in other upcoming MCU storylines. While the majority of what occurs in the film are already known facts, especially for comic book fans, we do acknowledge that not everyone is a religious follower of the immense library of volumes on the subject matter. We will therefore limit this Morbius review by not giving away key plot points especially if you wish to see the film. We will however answer the most important question in regards to the film which is: Is Morbius a worthy addition to the long list of Marvel films that are available today?
An Origin Story Minus Substance
The story that the film depicts is pretty straightforward with the eventual and very much predictable transformation of Morbius. The tropes of vampire films are all there and despite having a few teaks here and there in the character’s limitations and abilities, the film doesn’t bring anything new to the table. There isn’t anything that is all too intriguing due to the simplicity of it all. There’s nothing wrong with simple but this is a case where nothing of greater value is added. It felt honestly like a very sloppy and lazy rendition of a vampire story that is overshadowed by the like of the subpar Underworld franchise which at least managed to create an engaging premise for some of its installments.
I honestly wanted to disagree with the negative feedback that the film has already received from critics but sadly the story was just bland. It is an ordinary vampire film and the same is said about its standing as a Marvel film. Morbius is an example of an attempt to ride on the hype of a hit film but it sadly fumbles and drowns in the attempt to achieve continuity. Admittedly it does achieve it towards the end but it also felt forced to be honest and in turn, the big reveal of the intertwined nature with Morbius and the MCU turned into a distraction as fans waited for the appearance of Michael Keaton as seen in the trailers.
The film also felt with romance which although is seen in the comics was also done in a very underwhelming manner. The integration of such elements didn’t really give justice to Morbius and his love interest — who portrayed a very underwhelming performance (more on this later). In totality, the story, despite being an adaptation of the comics, was poorly executed and even had several moments that were too predictable, plain, and at times, honestly, we’re just too boring to watch. I don’t think that it’s the source material’s fault primarily but the overall direction and execution of the movie were sub-par, to begin with.
Dependence on CGI
The shoddy special effects and editing didn’t help improve the film either. The use of Morbius’ transformation effects was all too distracting, to be honest, and was shown in a way that didn’t really celebrate the efforts done to make them. The awkward camera angles and even lighting gave off the feeling that the producers were either embarrassed with the final result or that it was just lazily done, to begin with. The parts that were made to look cool and exciting weren’t executed well enough which in turn just added a distracting element rather than one that produced any awe and grandeur. The makeup for Morbius’ pseudo-vampire look was also done poorly as if out of a low-budgeted horror flick. It honestly reminded me of the Sinister horror film’s demonic villain rather than a Marvel hero/villain that fans can actually root for.
The disappointing part about this film as mentioned is its lack of a substantial story as a backbone which also caused weak character developments to rise. There were some characters that had their moments such as Milo or more known in the comics of Lucien, but even these seemed rushed. The film is admittedly short, quick, and fast-paced but even then the duration of the film felt that it could’ve ended the agony sooner. It wasn’t a movie that really prompted me to stand up and leave as it had some moments that I was still looking forward to despite the disappointing execution and delivery. With weak character development, however, I was surprised however that Jared Leto and Matt Smith were still able to deliver stand-out performances that really showed their skill to shine despite the weak script and story. The same can’t be said however for the other cast members, especially Adria Arjona who played Martine Bancroft who simply faded into the background as the lackluster love interest of Morbius. Tyrese Gibson also delivered a very weak and monotoned performance which honestly is a far cry from his quick-witted portrayals of Roman Pearce in the Fast & Furious franchise.
Morbius Review Final Verdict
We have reached the end of our Morbius review and the question still stands: Is Morbius a worthy addition to the long list of Marvel films that are available today? The answer sadly is no. It doesn’t add much at all to the franchise based on this film alone. When taken as an individual film on its own as well, there are just so many elements that don’t work well for it. We honestly don’t recommend that you go and see it unless you are intrigued by how it fits into the bigger MCU storyline. There were moments that I hung on to the movie in the hopes of any glimmer of hope but to no avail. It may also however be due to the level of excellence that we have seen from Marvel so far which is why the expectations were still set pretty high for Morbius but I still stand firm that it is by far one of the worst Marvel films to date. That is why Morbius sadly gets an underwhelming score of 3 on our Hype Meter.
The glimmer of hope for Morbius, despite what our review says, may still be the future plans that producers have for the character so here’s to hoping for some much-needed redemption for the character, Leto, and the rest of the cast. This is because one thing stands from what I saw from this film — the stone-faced dedication from Marvel to expand the world of Morbius and in time probably the potential to face off with Spidey and other iconic characters.
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