Director Daniel Espinoza
Screenplay Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless
Starring Jared Leto, Matt Smith, Adria Arjorna, Jared Harris, Al Madrigal, Tyrese Gibson

In the 3+ years since this movie has been completed and the pandemic occurred to push its release time back a couple of years, no film has garnered so much pre-release dread as Jared Leto’s entrance into the Marvel Spiderverse. Previewed or not, many just knew this film would be bad. It’s not what they say it is, even if Morbius is not a classic by any means.

The story, as pointed out by my friend Binage, is redundant in the super/anti-hero genre. Orphan child with a rich adoptive father does amazing things in the effort to cure his and his surrogate brother’s (Milo) illnesses. He becomes a doctor, declines a Nobel Prize for creating a synthetic blood, then finds a way to cure himself, which becomes the gateway to another, more sinister malady.

It’s not a secret that the cure comes from an extract in vampire bats, just as anyone who has seen this film’s numerous trailers that Morbius (Leto) unleashes some sort of vampirism within himself and..

As the titular character, Leto is just fine. He is way less annoying here than he usual. We don’t see him being weird for its own sake. As his colleague and love interest Martine Bancroft, Ajorna is ok too, if significantly under-developed. His brother Milo / Lucien (Smith) gets to turn a corner as a character.

The rest of the cast is there mainly for some exposition (Harris) and cleanup work (Madrigal and Gibson).

If there is a problem with the film, it’s not in the lead character and his abilities. I kept trying to figure out how exactly Spider-man could counter some of the many skills that Morbius develops through curiousity and necessity in the course of the story.

As is the case with this and the other most recent Spiderverse anti-hero film (Venom: Let There Be Carnage) this seems to be less a complete story than a holding place for an eventual stand-off event with the web-slinger hero. And if we learned anything in the past year, Spidey will not have too big a challenge converting some of these traditional bad guys into better guys. If anything is gleaned from the cut scenes of this film, it’s that it may not be Tom Holland’s Spider-Man that ends up facing these characters.

When one waits through an altogether stunted story just to get to the end-credits, you know the film makers really didn’t spend all that much time working on the film you just watched. They just made a trailer for some future film. This is the most obvious problem with Sony’s approach to world building: they are standing on the back of the MCU and it’s sometimes routine, but overall more interesting approach, and they are trying to consider it an accomplishment. This would be ok if they only gave each building block film more of a feeling of actual events then merely prelude to bigger stuff.,

If one is holding back on this film mainly because they don’t think Leto’s that good, well he’s actually the best part of this film. Smith and Arjorna are good too, for what we see of them. The effects of the creatures unleashed are actually quite interesting to experience and even ponder. The facial effects are not horrible, if a little redundant. Once you’ve seen one transformation to a vampire and back, it quickly wears off, especially when they do it several times during one exposition.

If you don’t see this film, that’s fine. The hints in the trailer are probably enough. If one does see the Morbius, they likely won’t love it, but they also will not hate it. It’s there to give you a rundown of what this living vampire can do, and for not much more.

(**1/2 out of *****)

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