After delay after delay after delay, Sony’s Morbius finally hit theaters this past weekend. Rumored to be the kickoff to Sony’s Sinister Six project and highly anticipated, Morbius follows the story of Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto), a scientist with a rare blood disorder whose desperation in finding a cure ends up unleashing a dark monster with a serious hunger for blood.
Morbius was to be Jared Leto’s redemption in the comic book movie world (we all know why; I don’t need to bring it up). Reactions to the film, however, have been less than stellar. Critics have been ripping the movie to shreds, their reviews giving it a whopping 17% (as of this writing) on the critic side of Rotten Tomatoes. “Abysmal,” “forgettable,” “dull,” and “incoherent” are just a few of the words critics have used to describe this movie. Variety film critic Owen Gleiberman called the plot “jarringly generic,” and even went so far as to ask himself, “This is what now passes for a new Marvel chapter?” Ouch. No love for The Living Vampire among the professionals, eh?
Luckily, I never listen to the professionals, and I went to see Morbius anyway, despite the horrible reviews. I’ve been waiting for this movie for a long time, and I still had high hopes for it.
I can happily report that these critics are salty. There aren’t any overtly over-the-top comedic moments in the movie (looking at you, Ragnarok), and the 70% audience score (again, as of this writing) of positivity on Rotten Tomatoes is a much better representation of the film.
I absolutely enjoyed the heck out of this movie.
Genuinely, I think the critics and I watched two different films. Yes, it was a basic “superhero movie” plot: guy gets superpowers, guy can’t control said superpowers, guy hurts people, guy has to save the day from other guy who goes power-hungry. However, there is nothing dull or incoherent about it. In fact, Morbius is a pretty dark movie despite its PG-13 rating. Morbius himself is a complicated character; he’s a genuinely good person caught up in evil, trying to cure an awful disease and those who suffer from it before he succumbs to that disease himself. You sympathize with both Morbius and his best friend Milo (Matt Smith), who suffers from the same blood disorder – their desperation to stay alive, to be healed, to be normal for once in their lives. The line between good and evil is blurred in this film quite a bit; Morbius’ actions in order to find a cure are absolutely illegal and borderline immoral, but you can understand his desperation for one last chance. Yes, Morbius’ horrible acts of violence are a direct result of his experiments, but at the same time, the animal inside the man is doing what it was meant to do, so does it make him a true villain? Or is it Milo’s bloodlust for a power his body has never known and his willingness to do whatever it takes to keep it that makes him the villain instead? It’s a very gray area that makes a hero into an anti-hero, and I think this film showcased it well.
Morbius is a superhero movie, but director Daniel Espinosa (Child 44, Safe House) brings a different vibe to it. Much like how David Sandberg did with Shazam!, Espinosa adds some horror elements to this film, and it was a good choice to do so. There’s a scene with a nurse in a dark hallway with lights that turn on and off automatically that could fit right in with the many terrifying ghost movies we’ve gotten over the years. Espinosa’s decision to film in a bit darker lighting enabled him to showcase how gruesome Morbius’ killings are without excessive gore; the point gets across without having to limit viewers.
Shout-out to the special effects team on this movie, by the way; the flawless transitions between when Morbius is his human self and his vampire self are well done. I can’t wait to see some behind-the-scenes stuff on how they did it all. The editing on Morbius is good; that much CGI can be distracting, but it’s integrated well in this movie.
The acting in this film is great. Jared Leto, Matt Smith, and Jared Harris are all actors I think most of us can agree are brilliant in anything they do. I really enjoyed Leto as Michael Morbius; it’s entirely possible he’s finally found his comic footing. He’s a method actor, as we all know, so he brings a different believability to Morbius’ disabilities because you know he’s done the research. Matt Smith and Leto’s chemistry is good as well, you can feel their brotherly love for each other, and I’d like to see them work together more in the future. Martine Bancroft, Morbius’ partner and lover, is played by Adria Arjona (Netflix’s Triple Frontier) also does well, bringing a bit of a twist to the comic book character’s traits and bouncing well off both Leto and Smith. If anyone is lacking in this movie, it’s Tyrese Gibson, who, while I adore him, has yet to master the skill of acting after all these years. He plays Agent Stroud and is completely outshined by Al Madrigal, who plays his partner, Agent Rodriguez. Luckily, Gibson’s role isn’t too big, and it doesn’t take away from the film.
One thing I hope Sony does soon is release Jon Ekstrand’s musical score for Morbius. The music is beautiful; it’s haunting while also having a typical superhero feel to it. It was my first time hearing anything Ekstrand has composed, and I’m definitely going to be looking into his stuff more after this. If you’re a score person like I am, definitely check it out when it releases.
FYI: No spoilers, but there are two credit scenes for Morbius, and they set up quite an interesting future, and I can’t wait to see what Sony does with it.
All in all, while Morbius is no masterpiece (like every other comic film; let’s be honest here), it definitely is not as bad as the critics are making it out to be, and I encourage you, once again, to make your own decision on the film.
Morbius is in theaters now.