\With Sony Pictures continuing their strategy of turning Spider-Man’s villains into solo movie stars, which began with Venom, they recently put the vampire known as Morbius into the spotlight. Morbius is far from one of Spidey’s primary antagonists, but he’s a comic book vampire, so how could that not be worth getting excited for, right? Does the Morbius film live up to Spider-Man’s rich Hollywood history, or should it be hidden in the darkness forever? Let’s explore the ins and outs of this twisted tale to find out.
There are a few actors who give excellent performances throughout the film. Matt Smith is just as eccentric as ever and clearly has fun with his role. Adria Arjona brings a lot of emotion to her character and portrays that emotion brilliantly. What is probably the best performance, though, comes from a more minor character. Al Madrigal as Agent Rodriguez brings a lot of personality to the character which makes him feel truly real. He’s honestly the only character who truly feels real and fleshed out, and a lot of that is thanks to the great performance.
The film does use some interesting ideas for a vampire movie. For instance, vampires share a connection to bats and can communicate with them to an extent. Because of the illness Morbius and Milo have, they become extremely weak, even on the verge of dying, if they don’t drink blood. The idea of a vampire being a crime fighter is also intriguing. None of the ideas are executed very well in the film, but they’re fun ideas nonetheless.
There is a dark and mysterious atmosphere that is captured quite well throughout the movie. It’s what would be expected from a vampire story that’s not meant to be a comedy like What We Do in the Shadows, but it’s still accomplished here. It adds a sense of “what could happen next” that lures the audience into this ominous tale. It’s very far from a terrifying film, but there’s a clear attempt at making a modern, scary vampire film in the same vein as Dracula. The tone is at least somewhat there.
The whole story of the movie is a bit of a mess. It starts on a scene that is extremely confusing without context. If someone attempted to watch this movie without knowing anything going into it, then the opening scene won’t help with anything. The scene immediately after that, though, flashbacks to a scene that actually sets up the film, as if it was how the movie was supposed to open. The rest of the film is a paint-by-numbers hero vs. villain tale that doesn’t capture the hero or the villain well. The stakes feel insanely low. Plus, it’s all incredibly boring. How does one make a movie about vampires fighting each other boring?
There’s an early scene that shows Morbius as a kid. He’s introduced to another kid named Lucien. Morbius doesn’t like that name so he just renames him without asking. That’s just plain weird.It’s not a joke either; he seriously meets a new character and tells him “your name is now this, end of story.” Nothing about that makes any sense.
It is vital to the story that Milo takes the serum to become a vampire. He does so, however, off-camera. The audience is just supposed to assume that he took it at a certain point. It’s a basic rule of story-telling, especially with a visual medium like movies, that if it’s important, show it. “Show don’t tell.” Neither were done in this case.
The special effects throughout the film are mostly terrible. They look like something out of an old video game, and it’s even laughable at times. What’s especially astounding about the visuals is that they try to disguise the bad CGI with more bad CGI by having random CGI lines swirl around the character whenever his powers are used. It’s genuinely hard to look at and completely breaks any immersion that the audience might have. This is something that can be understandable at times because major studios tend to rush visual effects artists to push blockbusters out quicker, but this one was delayed for two years. What’s the excuse there?
This is meant to be an action movie, but nothing stands out from the action at all. It’s all very generic and forgettable. Plus, the overuse of terrible CGI further prevents the fight sequences from being enjoyable. One would think claws, fangs, flight, bat-communication, and sonar would allow for cool and exciting action, but they’d be wrong in this case.
While there were three standout performances, the rest of the acting is pretty rough. There are films out there, like Requiem for a Dream, that showcase that Jared Leto can be a great actor. Here, however, his acting is extremely stiff, and he speaks as if he’s a child trying to make an adult-sounding voice. Tyrese Gibson, who has shown some carisma is previous films, absolutely phones it in this time around. He sort of just mumbles and whispers through his scenes without changing his facial expressions. Nothing stands out from many of the other performances as well.
Milo’s heel turn as the villain feels forced. Sure, there’s a reason for it, but he’s established to be a friendly guy. It would be one thing if he wanted to use his new powers to kill those who picked on the little guy, but instead he just sort of kills everyone he can get close to, which feels extremely out of character from when he’s first introduced.
The editing couldn’t be more sporadic. None of the film really flows together; it sort of jumps around instead. The film’s introduction scene is the biggest part that’s impacted by this, but it still feels choppy throughout.
The movie ends very abruptly and with little pay off. There aren’t cliffhangers outside of the post credits scenes, but it just sort of ends after the good guy wins. The stakes are so low for the final fight that it doesn’t feel like a finale. Things just sort of “happen” and then it ends on such a hugely unsatisfactory note.
The post credits scenes of films shouldn’t count toward the quality of the movies themselves, but they’re definitely worth talking about in this case. Michael Keaton’s Vulture from Spider-Man: Homecoming is teleported into the world of Venom and Morbius. First off, that doesn’t make any sense. Doctor Strange’s spell brought characters from outside of the MCU into that universe, then put them back where they were from. It wouldn’t have taken Vulture and put him somewhere randomly. Keaton’s character then wonders how the food is in his new universe, which makes it seem like he doesn’t care about potentially never seeing his wife or daughter ever again, which doesn’t fit him at all. We then see him with a new Vulture suit on. His original suit was made out of Chitauri tech from the invasion of New York in The Avengers, so how was he able to make this suit so suddenly? He asks Morbius to team up so they can fight Spider-Man. Since they made Morbius a hero, why would he want to fight Spider-Man? Also, Vulture respects Spider-Man and only fought him because he wanted money to support his family. Why would he suddenly want to go after him? None of this makes sense, and whoever wrote these scenes clearly didn’t understand the MCU films or didn’t watch them.
Morbius is incredibly bland and is an overall difficult movie to watch. It fails as a film, which is surprising for a modern blockbuster based on a comic book. It does offer some entertainment value by providing something to make fun of, not not quite as much as something like Mac and Me or The Star Wars Holiday Special do. This isn’t an enjoyable superhero film, action movie, or vampire movie. Sony Pictures should have used those two extra years to completely redo this movie to at least somewhat improve it. Thankfully it gave us an entertaining-enough meme for a little while.