Morbius proves to be a Leto letdown
Morbius (M, 104min) Directed by Daniel Espinosa ★★
By the time you read this, I will have one less tooth in my head. And a couple of hundred fewer dollars in the bank account.
I mention this only to give some context to this review.
Because through a fug of painkillers, with nothing to look forward to except a visit to the dentist and a screening of Sonic The Hedgehog 2, it is possible that I wasn’t in the cheeriest of moods as I sat through Morbius on Wednesday night – and me and the other three people in the cinema were actually being treated to a decent film that I just wasn’t appreciating.
But I doubt it.
I think when 2022 draws to a close and Chris Rock is making notes on which auto-immune disease sufferer he wants to make jokes about at the upcoming Oscars, that the Golden Razzie of the year will already be a lock.
And Morbius shall be its name.
And yet, for the first 10 minutes or so, Morbius was off to a promising start.
We meet young Michael Morbius and his best friend Milo at some sort of infirmary for floppy-haired kids with incurable blood disorders. We know they are best friends, because they repeatedly tell each other that they are. We gather that Michael is some sort of genius at inventing and fixing things, while Milo will be inheriting some serious bank.
We jump forward 20 years or so, to find Michael declining a Nobel Prize for Medicine, while running a lab that Milo and his infinite pockets are paying for. Michael hits on the entirely insane idea of cutting vampire bat DNA into human blood.
After which, I guess the rest of
Morbius pretty much writes itself.
With Michael now infected with, err, bat-ism I guess, it’s only a matter of time before Milo decides to mix up a little bat cocktail of his own and soon enough it’s all on for young and old, as good Michael tries to stop bad Milo from doing, err, something.
After a while, the obligatory woman-who-both-men-like explains to us that Michael is subsisting on artificial blood, while Milo is killing people to drink. But the length of time that Morbius takes to make even that simple point is pretty much unforgivable.
Although it owes a debt to many films, the one movie Morbius reminded me of the most was the ill-fated and poorly received The Incredible Hulk from 2008. Apart from the glaring similarities in the plots, that film was also hampered by having the wrong actor in the lead.
I truly believe that there are roles Jared Leto was born to play. But here, inviting comparison to Tom Holland’s Spider-Man and Tom Hardy’s Venom, with whom Sony are hoping Morbius will one day share a screen, Leto lacks the charm to make us care about his fate. Even Matt Smith – cast as Milo and never even raising a sweat, still knocks Leto off the screen in every scene they share.
Characters played by Jared Harris, Adria Arjona and Tyrese Gibson, among others, just get lost in the edit, turning up only when Leto or Smith need to explain the plot to someone, so that we can pretend to care.
Director Daniel Espinosa (Life) has some moves, but Morbius feels like a film that has been designed and then completed entirely by a committee of bean-counters and marketing hacks. Whatever magic Espinosa and his cast were hoping to deliver has been lost in transit.
Veteran cinematographer Oliver Wood makes the film occasionally look wonderful, especially in the night-time exteriors, but the CGI thrown over the top of every action scene is muddy, mostly unnecessary and renders a few crucial scenes incomprehensible.
Morbius is a mostly unlikeable mess. The lowest bar any superhero movie has to clear, is that it should at least be fun to watch. Morbius falls at the first hurdle.
is now screening in cinemas nationwide.