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morbius

★★

starring: jared leto, adria arjona, tyrese gibson, and matt smith

REVIEWER: lyall carter

Biochemist Michael Morbius tries to cure himself of a rare blood disease, but he inadvertently infects himself with a form of vampirism instead.

One of the strangest things about the big studios duking it out over superhero movies is Sony’s relationship with some of the characters from the Marvel canon. It’s interesting to say the least, and something that I don’t pretend to fully comprehend. Sony have released some of the best Marvel superhero movies in their different iterations of Spider-Man from Maguire, Garfield, and Holland to the utterly superb animated feature film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. But Venom, for me, didn’t reach the heights of the Spidey movies and unfortunately, neither does Morbius. With a truly original MCU character and a great cast, Morbius unfortunately doesn’t live up to that superb ambition with underdeveloped characters, a narrative that isn’t cohesive, and an over reliance on CGI.

One of the most compelling and conflicted characters in Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters comes to the big screen as Oscar winner Jared Leto transforms into the enigmatic antihero Michael Morbius. Dangerously ill with a rare blood disorder and determined to save others suffering his same fate, Dr. Morbius attempts a desperate gamble. While at first it seems to be a radical success, a darkness inside him is unleashed. Will good override evil – or will Morbius succumb to his mysterious new urges?

Morbius is a pretty cool character. Basically a guy who accidentally turns himself into a vampire, it’s a character concept that has a wealth of potential. But after a promising first act that sets up the character and a particular character arc, the last two acts, and the final one in particular, becoming both overly simplistic and slightly muddled. 

Characters reach moments of crisis skipping several beats to get to there, motivations for key character decisions are missing, and plot points that are begun in earnest come to an abrupt dead end with little to no explanation of why that is. 

While there are some great creative iterations in the visual expression of Morbius’ bat radar, superhuman speed and strength, this creative expression doesn’t extend to the final battle where it becomes an unfocussed CGI mess at times. 

But the cast is superb, doing great things with the material they have. Leto doesn’t overplay or exaggerate the role, which is a temptation he fell for in The House of Gucci. Here he reigns it in, bringing a real charismatic presence to the role. Adria Arjona is a great surprise and does a lot with the role, Matt Smith is particularly menacing, but unfortunately the superb Jared Harris is woefully underused.  

With a truly original MCU character and a great cast, Morbius unfortunately doesn’t live up to that superb ambition with underdeveloped characters, a narrative that isn’t cohesive, and an over reliance on CGI.

★★