The new film “Morbius” is exactly what you’ve come to expect from a Marvel film. A scientist, and an experiment gone wrong. In the comic book world, they will either become hero or villain. In the case of this film, it’s a bit of both.
All of this is followed by lots of underwhelming dialogue
Then comes the noise and headache-inducing CGI that renders everything even more phony than it already is, culminating on a final battle that is a CGI mess so ineptly crafted that it becomes a messy blur.
Comic book films all follow the same structure and design and “Morbius” exists as a mere fulfillment of the genre’s cliches.
Jared Leto stars as Dr. Michael Morbius. Born with a rare and fatal blood disease, the doctor blends his DNA with that of vampire bats.
The disease is never named or explained beyond its initial outcomes, nor is the deeper reasons for using the bat DNA. The audience is left to accept the fact that Morbius is bad blood and bats are the key. Sure.
Morbius is presented as one of the genius scientists in the world. He even wins the Nobel Prize but refuses it. Why does he do this? Again, no explanation.
Of course, in fusing his blood with bats, Dr. Morbius gets super strength and a need for blood. Being a good man (and for screenplay convenience), he creates a viable substitute to curb any need for murder.
Jared Leto has spent the last twenty years working as one of the best method-using character actors around.
Leto dives in physically, losing serious weight to portray the sickly Morbius then bulks up to show the character’s stronger vampire-esque transformation, but has absolutely nothing to work with regarding the screenplay.
Leto’s commitment is manifest, but he has no support from the film. To quote Neil Simon, six days does not a week make.
Matt Smith is “Milo” Morbius’s childhood best friend. It is no secret that he becomes the film’s villain (it’s in the trailer) but what a dull adversary he is.
Smith’s performance is too obvious, and the character is written with no originality. When Crown finally confronts Morbius, their conversation is a carbon copy of hundreds of villain/hero dialogues that have come down the pike for decades.
With their screenplay, Matt Sasana and Burt Sharpless set out to do a fun Horror/Superhero film blend but fail at both.
There is something dramatically and morally interesting to be mined from a story about a superhero-esque character who battles his will to kill people for his bloodlust. Unfortunately, the script and film would rather hit the normal, tired beats, walking in the footsteps of so many better films from the horror and comic book genres
Director Daniel Espinoza (as he did in his film “Life” and the inconsequential “Safe House”) shows no flair for making things authentic.
Espinoza comes to the film with his trusty bag of cliches and spills them out scene by scene. The director’s work here makes one wonder if his number one rule wasn’t to ban all originality from the set.
Even the moment where the film pays homage to the story of Dracula (where, on a ship named “Murnau,” Morbius rips through a crew of mercenaries) is bungled completely, offering up no tension or creepiness.
And to mention Morbius’s scientific partner and eventual love interest Dr. Martine Bancroft (Adria Arjona), is a waste of time. The film does nothing special with her, save for a moment at the end that will assure her appearance in the next film.
In the middle of this mess comes Tyrese Gibson and Al Madrigal as two cops investigating Dr. Morbius.
Gibson fails to register a heartbeat in a completely lifeless performance. The actor walks around looking puzzled and bored as if he were indeed one of the recently revived undead while Madrigal is the old standby wisecracking partner whose jokes fall as flat as his performance.
These two bumbling cops couldn’t solve a murder on “The Love Boat.”
Jared Harris shows up as Morbius’s mentor since childhood. I have always liked Harris and he has done some impressive work in good genre films (1994’s vampire film “Nadja,” among others). For this one, the actor had a car payment coming due, it looks like.
With its maddeningly inept structure (that the great Pietro Scalia was the film’s editor is mind-boggling), Espinoza makes a film that runs under two hours feel like four.
The characters are dull, the score (from John Ekstrand) is unmemorable, and the action sequences resemble what one would find in an unwashed bedpan.
“Morbius” may not be the worst Marvel film (or is it?), but it certainly looks like a waste of time.