Morbius, a Mundane 2003-Era Thriller

Morbius is an unfortunate throwback to a time when bad comic-book movies weren’t uncommon, when adaptations such as 2003’s Daredevil or 2005’s Fantastic Four were silly, glum, and seriously stupid, often riddled with talk of gifts, curses, and too many tonal disparities. They revolved around simple, mundane stories of good versus evil, even relative to those we see today, and featured rather incoherent climaxes, campy villains, and often missing information. Such problems describe Morbius to a tee, although it is more competently made than either Venom picture, the fortunate result of journeyman filmmaker Daniel Espinosa possessing more natural talent and experience than either Ruben Fleischer or Andy Serkis in the director’s chair. Visual effects are inconsistent, however, a few moments involving echo location and slow motion are riveting. More impressive are the makeup effects infrequently used to transform hero and villain. Jared Leto continues to prove he’s underrated as an actor, never mistepping a moment as diseased Michael Morbius, the scientist who cures himself via a questionable cocktail from a vampire bat, only to turn himself into a living vampire. The character is underwritten, but Leto does what he can to make him interesting amid a lackluster script and rudimentary tropes. That being said, Matt Smith steals the movie out from under him as lifelong friend Milo, another cripple in need of a cure, only without the conscience necessary when a thirst for blood comes calling. He’s immensely fun as the only person on screen embracing the sheer joy of superpower discovery. His Milo is yet another bad man born of childhood bullying, a character trait given lip service and the only explanation for his adulthood sociopathy. The rest of the cast, including Tyrese Gibson, Al Madrigal, Jared Harris, and Adria Arjona, barely register. Worst of all is boredom, between the aforementioned babbling about gifts versus curses and yet another baddie attempting to lure somebody to the dark side, it’s all far too familiar to care about much of it, or any of it for that matter.

Grade: C-

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