ShareAll sharing options for:Morbius (2022) review: Jared Leto’s new vampiric Marvel may not floor you but offers decent fanged fun
- Twitter (opens in new window)
- Facebook (opens in new window)
- Reddit (opens in new window)
- Pocket (opens in new window)
- Flipboard (opens in new window)
- Email (opens in new window)
We Need To Talk About Morbius…
Let’s be honest, critics and audiences had their fangs out ready to tear into this long gestating and much delayed latest addition to Sony’s divisive Marvel Universe. Jared Leto certainly seems to be the actor it’s fashionable to hate right now, taking that title from previous title holders like Johnny Depp and Nicolas Cage over the years. Mind you, some of his reported silly method acting antics may not help matters. That said, after all the pre-release hyperbole naming it the worst film ever (I’m sure we’ve been here before) and all that other extreme click baiting Film Twitter generation tripe (we’ve definitely been here before), Morbius is ultimately a flawed but fun enough way to spend an hour and a half. And that’s enough really.
The film sees Leto play Dr. Michael Morbius, a brilliant scientist who is afflicted with a rare blood disease and has battled the odds to survive, and find a cure. However his hopes for salvation lead to something far more ferocious, as his vampire bat serum has some thirst-induing side effects, and we don’t mean he’s craving a brew!
No doubt about it, Morbius works far better if you view it as a modern vampire blockbuster, and I can’t help but admire the fact we have one of those on screens for the first time in what seems like decades. However, as a comic book blockbuster it feels 15 years out of date, and as a Marvel Universe connecting point it is rather confused to say the least. If Morbius was intended to strike harder on those particular competitive fronts, it certainly needed more force behind its bite.
In fact Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless’ screenplay and it’s constant universe aspirations, if anything, really drags things down more after a quite good start. That said, I did enjoy the much-mocked end credits sequences even if, again, they seemed to be rushing a universe story together. This obsession with director’s needing a universe to be mapped out, can take away from the story they are telling right now in the moment, and such is the case with Morbius, because Daniel Espinosa’s film confuses most when it is taken as a continuation of Venom’s world or Spider-Man: Far From Home, and this serves as a studio-driven distraction and/or head scratcher.
It also does not help that Morbius should have been a full-on R-Rated film (despite its 15 rated UK release), and was clearly meant to be, with some hecticly shot action sequences purposely marring the bloodshed and avoiding some decent character traits/powers a, which in a vampire film is criminal surely?
However, the story manages to withstand these rough waters and dated edges when it is is allowed to be full-on gothic and dark, with a little bit of Stephen Sommers’ Van Helsing. In these bat-swirling, claw scraping and blood bag tearing moments, things work out far better. As do the horror infused man-turned-monster soul battles that thankfully occupy large chunks of the story, making this basically Marvel’s answer to a toothier Jeckyll and Hyde, and that classification is when things really work.
The VIP of the show may be Jared Leto, and for all the naysayers, I found his blood illness-battling scientist to be a good leading character and his performance was well matched with the role. Though, some might say Doctor Who star Matt Smith leaves a stronger impression, as he goes all in with the – admittedly a tad cliche – villain. Though for me the show stealer, other than the always reliable presence of that cameo post-credits star, was actually not on camera at all but behind it, in Jon Ekstrand’s work on the score.
His score is a pulsating gothic presence that drips drama and menace, and the film’s neon-like opening and closing credits absolutely leap out of the big screen thanks to Ekstrand’s phenomenal music, perfectly matching this intriguing visual quality. Which sadly is not allowed to takeover as much in the mid-section of the film, although there are breakouts.
Overall, Sony’s marketing really dropped a clanger when you see this film in its entirety, as they revealed some ridiculous things and actually fibbed somewhat. But my advice is cast aside all the loud shouty online voices and appreciate Morbius for some of the things it does do, rather than what it doesn’t. It’ll play better with a particular audience for sure, and while I enjoyed Venom (and its superior sequel) far more, there is still enough here to leave you entertained over the agreeable running time. Maybe I’m just a sucker for the underdog!!