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Written By:

Hayden Mears
Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) in Columbia Pictures' MORBIUS.

Morbius is half-baked superhero fare that can’t escape the trappings of other similarly forgettable comic book adaptations. Stacked against other live-action Sony/Marvel outings, it’s unremarkable. 2018’s Venom coasted on a bizarre Tom Hardy performance and a tonal departure that was better felt than described. Its follow-up, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, was just as weird, wild, and mindless. Morbius would be lucky to have that much personality. Director Daniel Espinosa does what he can to make Morbius likeable and compelling, but the bones of a great story just aren’t there. It’s briskly paced and action-packed yet perfunctory and vapid, with isolated highs keeping it watchable.

Leto turns in an earnest performance as Dr Michael Morbius, a world-renowned scientist with a rare blood disorder. After a lab accident transforms him into a vampire-adjacent creature with a monstrous appetite, he must fight to sate his bloodlust and keep the people he loves safe.

We’ve seen better (Dallas Buyers Club) and worse (Suicide Squad) from Leto, but his performance here – like most of the movie – is largely mid-tier. He’s clearly committed to the performance and wants to communicate the character’s pain and loneliness. To that end, he succeeds.

As stodgy and hackneyed as it often feels, Morbius does boast fleeting moments of inspiration. Matt Smith’s villainous Milo injects energy and enthusiasm into an overly serious and dull script. Smith’s comical indulgence makes him the perfect foil for Leto’s Morbius, whose intensity and self-seriousness sometimes push against the story’s more self-aware elements. From cockily swaying his hips over the corpses of freshly murdered cops to primping himself for late-night gallivanting, Smith’s supervillain is an unapologetic monster and a blast to watch. It’s a shame that nearly everything else falls apart around him.

It’s ultimately easier to think of Morbius as a campy, marginally entertaining one-off rather than the franchise-starter it so obviously tries to be.

Hayden Mears

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