Movie review: Sony falls short in vampire hero attempt with ‘Morbius’

The Lantern
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Jared Leto attending the UK Fan Screening of “Morbius,” in Odeon Luxe, Leicester Square, London, UK March 24. Credit: Courtesy of Doug Peters via Empics/ABACA

Despite recent discourse, “Morbius” is not the worst movie of all time — but it’s not particularly good, either.

Sony’s latest feature film tells the story of Michael Morbius (Jared Leto), a doctor renowned for his accomplishments in the medical field who turns into a vampire through a last-ditch attempt at saving his own life. Morbius fuses his DNA with vampire bat DNA to cure a rare blood disease he and his best friend Milo (Matt Smith) have suffered from since childhood. The result of the experiment ultimately haunts Morbius throughout the rest of the movie.

It is difficult for any comic book movie to be released in this day and age, considering the pop culture phenomenon that comic-book-based movies have become. With fan craze surrounding movies such as “The Batman” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” comic book movies are prone to harsher judgment than ever before.

Considering “Morbius” is a dark hero spinoff film with a low budget and minimal marketing, this movie was by no means set up for success. For it to even exceed its $75 million budget in profit during its opening weekend should be considered an impressive feat.

The story of Michael Morbius had potential to be interesting on the big screen, and it’s clear fans were eager to see a solid comic book character come to life — the movie raked in nearly $85 million and dominated the box office over the weekend. Leto does as good of a job as anybody could in portraying the living vampire on screen, and there are flashes of potential throughout this movie. However, potential is all there is when it comes to “Morbius,” as the ideas presented supersede anything actually played out on the big screen.

That’s not to say dragging this movie out any longer than its 104-minute run time would have helped, but the pacing hardly does the movie any favors, as there is hardly any time to connect with characters, leaving their story arcs feeling insignificant and rushed.

Comic book movies containing origin stories can sometimes feel drawn out, but more often than not, that is where the payoff lies. With its quick runtime, “Morbius” fails to successfully establish the origins of the character in a meaningful way, posing the question of whether or not this story would work better as a short series until the character is given an adequate budget.

Unfortunately, it seems as though “Morbius” was not ready to be given superstar treatment by Sony, and there was very little the filmmakers could do in some areas with the $75 million they were given to work with. Some movies can still succeed despite poor CGI or bad sound mixing, but no movie can make it past bad writing. Unfortunately, this film suffers from all three to an extent.

There are interesting ideas within Morbius’ character, and the hero-doctor-turned-vampire makes for a unique internal character dilemma. There are even some noteworthy side characters, but the villain in the story is simply not scary, and it feels as though the creators were not in touch with their audience.

However, this is not entirely the fault of the creators, Leto or anyone else who worked on the movie. Companies such as Marvel have completely oversaturated the superhero genre, making it nearly impossible for directors to get a feature movie such as this one adequately financed. Until there is change in that regard, more and more hero feature films such as “Morbius” will continue to receive low budgets and poor critic reviews.

“Morbius” is not the worst comic book movie to be released in the last decade. To see Morbius’ character on the big screen is interesting, and the dark vampire hero element in today’s day and age feels unique, giving the movie a different tone that can be appreciated. However, there are too many instances where viewers will have their interest piqued and then be subsequently disappointed.

Unfortunately, that’s the nature of a movie that never really stood a chance in the first place.

Rating: 2.5/5

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