Directed by Daniel Espinosa
Starring Jared Leto, Matt Smith and Adria Arjona
With the success of the Venom films, Sony decided to take Spider-Man adjacent comic book characters and give them a shot on the big screen. That makes sense, but with such a rich rogue’s gallery and supporting cast of options, why would they choose “living vampire” Morbius as the first after Venom? Felicia Hardy aka Black Cat, Jessica Drew aka Spider-Woman, Kraven the Hunter, Silver Sable, and Cardiac all seem like better choices. Or hell, give Rhino another shot! Why Morbius?
For the role, DC cast Jared Leto, a very good actor who delivered amazing performances in Requiem for a Dream and Dallas Buyers Club, but is most recognized from his role as the worst on screen Joker of all time in 2016’s Suicide Squad. So why did Marvel hire a guy who was the worst part of what some people think is the worst DC movie?
Instead of a full ensemble cast to work with, like he had in Suicide Squad, Leto only has two primary actors to play off of in Morbius. Matt Smith, best known as Dr. Who of BBC fame, plays childhood friend Mio, who’s stricken with the same rare blood disease as our young hero. As he grows older, Milo uses his money to help Mobrius search for a cure. Joining into help with scientific research is Dr. Martine Bancroft played by Adria Arjona, who helps with his genetic research. On paper, having these three actors hold our attention for one hour and 44 minutes should be an easy task… especially when you pepper in quality veteran character actor Jared Harris as Dr. Emil Nicholas. Instead, we have an acceptable although silly first act that sets up what could have been a decent horror film but quickly devolves into banal punch-em-up schlock. Morbius definitely isn’t worthy of other takes on the “I am a monster but I will resist” genre that features great films like Cronos (1986), Interview With The Vampire (1994) and yes the original Blade (1998). It falls more in line with terrible films like the Underworld trilogy (2003-2009), Van Hesling (2004) or even Twilight: New Moon (2009) where “the thirst” is a side story and characters hitting each other in the face is the film’s main focus.
Director Daniel Espinosa was new to me, so going in I had no visual expectations. If there is a glimmer of hope with Morbius it’s the interesting use of color and darkness. The film’s look gives off a “vaporwave” vibe with stark neon colors and city scenes set predominantly at night. This visual approach is interesting, but my attention dissolved quickly once the characters start delivering their poorly conceived lines of dialogue. Which makes sense with the film having a screenwriter with only four credits that include punch ’em up schlock like The Last Witch Hunter (2015) and Power Rangers (2017). What was I expecting? You might remind me that the two Venom films have a similar campy slugfest quality. To that I would say Jared Leto you are no Tom Hardy. Hardy put joy into the silliness, and it resonated on screen, whereas Leto took the same painstaking “method acting” approach” he used with his other films and came across as someone who is very out of a touch… he felt almost like a joke(r).
If Sony’s first two films (Venom and Venom: Let There Be Carnage) in this new shared universe where a B and a B+ then this the studio’s third film Morbius is an F+.