Does it suck, or does it blow? Who cares, it’s bad either way!
The last thing I expected of a film with infamous madman Jared Leto playing a vampire within the Venomverse (that’s what I’m calling it and you can’t stop me) is tedium. Yes, disappointment is the name of the game when it comes to 2022’s Morbius.
I never really believed the film would be good, per se, I just hoped it would be bad in an entertaining way. I was thinking hammy performances, bad accents, Shakespearean monologues – you know, good schlocky fun. But it somehow managed to undercut my already low expectations and end up boring as all hell.
The script comes Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless, the writing duo that gave us Dracula Untold and that Power Rangers movie with the Krispy Kremes. It shows. Paper-thin characters, a plodding plot, and a complete dearth of momentum make this vampire-superhero film a total slog from start to finish.
Matt Smith as friend-turned-enemy Milo is really the only entertaining part of the film. He’s a real vampire’s vampire, and the fact he’s the only one on screen enjoying himself makes him incredibly infectious. Jared Leto is committed to the character like he always is, but when the character is a snooze it’s hard to feel that strongly about it.
Part of the problem is an issue with tone. It’s not that I think that it can never work, but the tropes of gothic horror and superhero fiction clash horribly in Morbius. The movie wants it both ways, for you to feel the tragedy of a good person turned monstrous and compelled to do harm, as well as the thrill of someone becoming a self-actualised badass.
Morbius is a real step backwards for the genre, containing all the worst aspects of the superhero films of the 2000s and 2010s, without any of their positives. Out of the 2000s comes relentless brooding, with nary a chuckle from the audience at the few jokes delivered. We see an unwelcome return to the 2010s’ ‘big grey villain’ with the same powers as the hero.
As a complete tangent, I swear they ripped off the two-note Dark Knight motif several times throughout the film, which is a bizarre choice given how there are so many unavoidable visual motifs the two characters share. At least one bat-based film this year was entertaining.
A big negative is the godawful CGI throughout, despite best efforts to mask it with plenty of night-time sequences. While I’m a fan of the vampire design for Milo, I’m less keen on Morbius himself, and both vampires’ constant mugging for the camera deflates the impact over time.
The mid-credits scenes are also far from promising. They’re non-specific about who is in what universe with which Spider-Man, which tells me Sony have no idea themselves, and they’re are building this shared narrative by the seat of their pants in a desperate bid to retain rights to their characters.
As much as I hate Disney’s gradual monopoly and homogenisation of the film industry, movies like Morbius are why everything ended up in the MCU in the first place.
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