In the early 70s the comic book industry’s self-censorship board, under the guise of the Comics Code Authority, was updated and the ban on stories dealing with vampires was lifted but instead of resurrecting Dracula editor-in-chief Stan Lee wanted a costumed villain and thus Morbius, the Living Vampire, was born, unfortunately, in 2022 this tragic and sympathetic antagonist became the latest victim of Sony Picture’s attempt to cash in on the success of Spider-Man over in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The character of Michael Morbius has quite the storied history, from his beginnings as an antagonist of Spider-Man to his joining the superhero group Midnight Sons alongside the likes of Ghost Rider and Doctor Strange, but a story about a man who would make the journey from monster to hero is not what we got in this movie from Sony Pictures, which could have led to an interesting and compelling movie, so instead of giving us the dark and complex character found in the pages of Marvel Comics we get a Morbius who is about as likable as a case of syphilis. Our story here deals with a 10-year-old orphan Michael Morbius, who suffers from a rare blood disease and is confined to a hospital in Greece, befriending a fellow patient and bonding over their shared illness, eventually, a grown-up Morbius (Jared Leto) will become a world-renowned scientist, having created synthetic blood that saves countless lives, but his true obsession is in finding a cure for himself and his old friend Milo (Matt Smith), which has something to due with splicing human genes with those of a vampire bat and involves him going down to Costa Rica to capture a swarm of vampire bats, I’m only surprised that the bats didn’t simply inspire him to don a cape and cowl to fight crime.
Due to the illegal nature of these genetic experiments, Morbius and his colleague Doctor Martine Bancroft (Adria Arjona) are forced to set up shop aboard a vessel in international waters, boat and equipment all funded by good ole Milo, and while the experiment does seem to work it has the unfortunate side effect of transforming Morbius into a vampire, granting him superhuman strength, speed, reflexes, and echolocation, but during this initial transformation, he kills and drains the crew of their blood after they attack him out of fear. This leads to the introduction of FBI agents Simon Stroud (Tyrese Gibson) and Al Rodriguez (Al Madrigal), who serve practically no purpose in this movie other than to wander around crime scenes and act as if they were auditioning for parts in Law and Order: Special Morons Unit.
Milo discovers that Morbius has cured himself but becomes furious when Morbius refuses to cure him as well, not wanting to curse his friend with vampirism, of course, Milo sneaks off with a vial of the formula and before you can say “Vampire in Brooklynn” the bodies are piling up and it’s up to Morbius and Martine to find a way to cure their erstwhile friend or see that he can never harm anyone ever again. Needless to say, things escalate from there, with Milo even murdering their surrogate father Dr. Emil Nicolas (Jared Harris) for no apparent reason, and what fails to work here is that we never get a true understanding as to why Milo goes evil after taking the formula. In an earlier flashback, we see a ten-year-old Milo going all “Tonya Harding” on a bully but there is a pretty wide gap between that and committing murder at the drop of a hat, and the only thing that saves this poorly written character is in how much fun Matt Smith seems to be having as if he realized that he’s in a terrible movie and decided not to give a fuck and let it all hang out.
What is quite disappointing is that the film is competently directed by Daniel Espinosa and Oliver Wood’s cinematography is top-notch, even the acting isn’t all that bad, so the blame for this dumpster fire of a movie falls on the shoulders of screenwriters Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless and the idiot execs over at Sony Pictures, who through a terribly deceitful marketing campaign tried their best to make the world believe this movie existed within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. On the plus side, the film does look good, as mentioned the cinematography is first-rate and stylistically speaking the action sequences were quite interesting, not that I quite understand why Morbius and Milo leave behind this blurred coloured wake when they move, but it did look cool and was one of the few elements in this film that at least had a spark of creativity.
• Ten-year-old Morbius is sent to New York so that he can attend a School for Gifted Youngsters, sadly, it’s not run by Professor Charles Xavier.
• In the comic, Michael Morbius was a highly respected and Nobel Prize-winning biologist, but in the movie, he publicly declines the award, going so far as to show up at the award ceremony just so he could turn it down in person, like a complete dick.
• Morbius has a little girl as a patient and he is forced to induce a coma to prevent her from having a stroke, yet we never find out what happens to her and we are left wondering if she is still in a coma or dead?
• Why does the crew of Morbius’s research vessel look to be manned solely by heavily armed mercenaries? And sure, he’s in international waters but it’s not like he’s off the coast of Africa and has to worry about Somalian pirates.
• Morbius overhears a couple of counterfeiters saying “We need to get back to the lab” but do counterfeiters have labs? And if they did, would they be equipped with what you’d need to synthesize a cure for vampirism?
• The powers that Morbius displays are never clearly defined, and we don’t know how he can hear one voice among countless other New Yorkers or why he can control bats and Milo can’t.
• During a post-credit scene, the Vulture sets up a meeting with Morbius and tells him that “I’ve been reading about you, I’m not sure how I got here, has to do with Spider-Man I think, I’m still figuring this place out, but I think a bunch of guys like us should team up, could do some good?” But exactly what did he read about Morbius that would lead him to believe a team-up would result in anything good? As far as the world is concerned Morbius is a mass-murdering vampire, not an ideal candidate for a team member.
• And where in the hell did Adrian Toomes get his Vulture gear? He appeared in a detention cell wearing a prison-issue jumpsuit and I doubt he’d have access to Chitauri technology in this world to build a new one.
Basically, Sony Pictures should not be allowed to get near a comic book property unless it’s a Spider-Verse sequel, and Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman have complete control because left to their own devices you end up with something like Morbius, a soulless entry that doesn’t have an original thought in its short 104-minute running time. From the stale trope of the “hero” having to face off against his dark opposite, in this case, a hilariously over-the-top Matt Smith, to its origin story that was so anemic it would starve a child vampire.
Movie Rank - 4/10
Overall, Morbius was an uninspired mess whose visuals were not enough to carry a dreary and nonsensical storyline that centered around two characters who fight for the title of being the most boring and uninteresting.