‘Morbius’ Review: Not Awful, But That Don’t Make It Good

This movie straight-up feels like it was filmed in 2003 and sat in the Sony archives for 19 years.

“Morbius” is the third installment of the Sony Spider-Man Universe after the two “Venom” films, and follows the titular Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) as his quest for a cure to his disease which leads to him becoming a living vampire. Matt Smith, Adria Arjona, Jared Harris, Al Madrigal, and Tyrese Gibson also star, while Daniel Espinosa directs.

Originally due out in July 2020, this was delayed several times due to the pandemic (and likely reshoots/post-production tweaking). The trailer has played before most everything since January 2020, and thank God if nothing else I don’t have to hear “People Are Strange” for the dozenth time as I’m seated in a Regal. As far as the actual film goes, it’s similar to “Venom” in that it feels like a 2000s superhero film, a time where the genre was still trying to find its footing and wasn’t the well-oiled machine the MCU has become. However unlike “Venom,” “Morbius” suffers from clear edits in post as well as a sluggish pace despite (an appreciated) 104 minute runtime.

Jared Leto is pretty divisive as an actor, because while he was universally lauded for his Oscar-winning work in “Dallas Buyers Club,” his turns in recent years (namely “The Little Things” and “House of Gucci”) have been both praised and panned. This marks his first true leading role and foot in the superhero pool, and I think he does an ok job. Known for being a method actor and sometimes over-performing, he is actually pretty lowkey here, often whispering his lines. I think the film could have done for a more showy turn (Matt Smith as the villain chews scenery and knows what sort of film he’s in), but there’s a couple scenes where Leto shows Morbius’ conflicted nature of needing blood to survive but not wanting to take a human life.

Some of the action scenes are cool, having slow-mo followed by rapid speed-up, enough that you wonder if Zack Snyder or Guy Ritchie was a ghost director. The special effects are ok, I’ve seen worse in much more expensive productions (the budget on “Morbius” was $75 million, half what a typical Marvel movie costs), though at a couple of times they’re *rough*.

Part of the film’s problems lie in the marketing and how the world of superhero movies have changed since 2020. While Michael Keaton was shown in the trailers and is fifth-billed, he has been pushed to two post-credits scenes (which without spoiling make no sense), and it’s clear Sony wants to follow the likes of “No Way Home” and “The Flash” and set up its own multiverse where all its Sinister Six bad guys team up. “Morbius” ends very suddenly, almost as if the filmmakers realized the film wasn’t going to work midway through but had to finish production.

Also, and this isn’t a criticism so much as an observation, but there’s a scene where Leto steps into a case full of bats and I swear they started to play the theme music from “The Dark Knight,” I had to lean over to my friend to check.

“Morbius” isn’t as awful as Rotten Tomatoes (where it holds a 17% approval rating) would lead one to believe, it’s just pretty bland. Maybe down the road we’ll get a fun fan edit or the original cut (anything is possible in a Snyder Cut world), but as it stands now it’s another miss for Sony to create a decent superhero film without Disney holding their hand.

Critics Rating: 4/10

Sony Pictures

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