Morbius is a peculiar film, but it is not unlike anything you’ve seen before. The villain mirroring the powerset and motivation of the titular protagonist is a tried and true Marvel movie classic i.e. Iron Man, Logan, & Batman Begins, and Morbius makes sure to never stray far from the formula.
This is a new Marvel Legend we’re talking about, after all.
MORBIUS: A NEW MARVEL LEGEND ARRIVED IN APRIL 2022
Additionally, the tired trope of the one-dimensional love interest playing second fiddle to the male superhero returns. Moreover, Morbius nearly commits the cardinal storytelling sin of “fridging” (violently killing off the female love interest for the singular and express purpose of furthering the male hero’s story), but the film wisely dodges that damning decision at the last possible moment. And that’s not to say that Morbius should receive praise for allowing the tragically underdeveloped Dr. Martine Bancroft to survive, hopefully earning her a chance at character development in a Morbius sequel.
That would be ridiculous.
Should we also congratulate Morbius for the one or two jokes that did land, when the dialogue & humor often felt as if they were torn straight out of a George Lucas screenplay? Need we applaud director Daniel Espinosa and writers Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless for bringing this mediocre vampire/superhero movie to the masses, editorial warts and all?
Probably not. But for some strange reason(s), I want to do just that. (Hint: the reason is definitely “not” a fat check from Sony Pictures.)
As soon as I left the theater, still
incredibly drunk on fireball basking in the pure adrenaline of the absolute cinematic masterpiece I had just witnessed, I had an epiphany. The reason I love Morbius more than every MCU movie, more than V For Vendetta, Joker, War Dogs, Watchmen, Kick-Ass, and The Dark Knight combined is simple, really.
MORBIUS: “IT’S THE HEIGHT OF CINEMATIC ACHIEVEMENT” -QUENTIN SCORSESE
Morbius. Is. Art.
Because what is art, at the end of the day? Art is subjective, entirely dependent on the interpretation of whoever or whatever is viewing the so-called “art”. When Andy Warhol started making films about nothing (Blue Movie) and painting cans of tomato soup (Campbell’s, specifically. Yum!), and the art community collectively sighed “Yes, I suppose that counts”, the definition of the word was readjusted. And that was decades ago. Therefore, Morbius should get a pass on all of its flaws, right?
Morbius still has a lot of problems, or at the very least, notable shortcomings, and before diving into those, let me thank you for bearing through the whiplash of this review.
Neither the score nor the soundtrack feature any outstanding tracks, making this a relatively bland film in terms of audio. The sound design shows moments of intrigue when Morbius and Milo’s powers are first being explored, but that’s about it. On top of that, the film really struggles to develop anyone’s character or requires them to use logic and critical thinking. In fact, Morbius can hardly remember that these are supposed to be human beings onscreen, not merely chess pieces on a Marvel-branded chessboard. Yet things just sort of…keep happening without much rhyme or rhythm, propelling us to the shocking and unexpected conclusion.
MORBIUS: THE THIRD ACT LEAVES A LOT TO BE DESIRED
Surprise surprise, it’s a heavily CGI 3rd act battle in New York that ends abruptly with a deus-ex machina and disappointingly little emotional payoff. As Quicksilver would say, “You didn’t see that coming?” Considering that Morbius comes from the studio that brought you Spider-Man 3, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Venom: Let There Be Carnage, the probability of Morbius whimpering out with an empty conclusion was telegraphed to fans a long time ago.
For a vampire picture, the horror elements are half-assed, almost nonexistent. Don’t walk into this expecting a single scare.
And for a film whose marketing was heavily reliant upon Vulture and his connection to the MCU, neither are even referenced until the post-credits scenes arrive. Not even the director knows why there was a picture of Spider-Man on the wall with “murderer” sprawled across in the Morbius trailer, a shot that was conveniently missing from the theatrical cut. Being upset with Morbius, disappointed and even frustrated is more than understandable, it’s downright warranted.
But once again, I love this movie, and I want to see it succeed. That Morbius has earned almost $50,000,000 at the domestic box office and over $55,000,000 internationally on a budget of only $75 million puts a big, bloodsucking grin on my face. So what if this masterpiece suffered the worst second-week drop for a Marvel movie since Dark Phoenix? A sequel is still practically guaranteed, and to cut through all the sarcasm and tonal whiplash briefly, I truly believe that Morbius II could be something special.
MORBIUS II IS SET UP QUITE NICELY, SOMEHOW
Venom: Let There Be Carnage was a marked improvement over the already enjoyable original Venom film, proving that Sony’s Spider-Man Universe knows how to build off of its shortcomings. If Morbius II was to up the fright factor, ditch the artificial blood crutch, and actually give Adria Arjona’s newly vampiric Dr. Bancroft something to do, Sony could have a legitimately interesting superhero/horror hybrid on their hands.
Do I expect that to happen, and should you? I wouldn’t count on Sony Pictures cracking the Morbius code the second time around, but the potential is certainly there, and I’m willing to bet they’re going to give it a shot anyway.
And despite being well aware of the fact that I’m probably setting myself up for disappointment, once again, my excitement for Morbius II is already building. And though my fellow fans may not be the most vocal, they are out there. We are the few against the many, just like Michael and Milo.
Before wrapping this thing up, I have to shower Matt Smith’s performance with some praise. Though his backstory was underdeveloped and his motivation half-baked (absolute power corrupts absolutely, especially when given to the disenfranchised. Genius stuff, really.), Morbius’ brother Milo was easily the best part of the film, and that’s 110% thanks to Matt Smith’s energy and acting ability.
There’s a palpable excitement and joy that Milo exudes once powered up, an excitement that Smith is visibly feeling as he acts his ass off, and that dumb fun carried through the screen and right into my heart. So if nothing else, Morbius delivered one of the most entertaining and memorable villain performances in a Marvel movie since Josh Brolin’s Thanos.
And that’s not nothing.
To make a long story short, Morbius is a mediocre, messy movie with a lot of deeply rooted issues hardcore fans will struggle with. At the same time, Morbius is a rather enjoyable, albeit uninspired film elevated by a standout Matt Smith performance, and one that I would happily watch again.
What did you think of Morbius? Would you purchase tickets to a sequel someday? Did you purchase tickets to this one? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on our social media!