One of the most frequently delayed films of the COVID era, Morbius has finally landed in cinemas with an unceremonious thud almost two years after its original July 2020 release date. That extra time has clearly been used for some reshoots and re-edits to help Morbius fit better into Sony’s updated plans for its Marvel properties (it was meant, originally, to follow up Far From Home, but now exists in a post-No Way Home world, multiverse and all), and the result is calamitous. Though I’m sure that there is no actually *good* cut of Morbius in existence, its rejigged story becomes so much more offensive in its corporate context – 104 minutes of janky nothing in order to set up years more of janky nothings down the line.
Jared Leto plays the eponymous Dr Michael Morbius, an expert in bloodborne diseases who himself suffers from a rare and vaguely terminal blood condition. In an attempt to cure the illness, for both himself and his wealthy childhood friend Milo (Matt Smith), Morbius splices their DNA with that of a vampire bat, turning each of them into bloodthirsty super-beings. Morbius tries to control his urges, but Milo, finally free of the shackles of his disease, has no such desire, launching into a killing spree that forces Morbius to become a sort of Venom-esque anti-hero to stop him.
There is not a single moment in Morbius’s awful script that doesn’t go for the laziest, most first-draft choice possible. Exposition is delivered in bored monotones, characters barely qualify as two-dimensional, and the whole thing feels like a feature-length version of one of the really bad late-season Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes – the CG vampire faces that Leto and Smith are given even look like the Buffy take on bloodsuckers. Packed with filler scenes as two detectives track Morbius and Milo in a side-story that goes nowhere, Morbius is the dullest superhero film since possibly 2016’s X-Men Apocalypse, not even fun bad like New Mutants as it lulls you to sleep.
Director Daniel Espinosa can’t even marshal any fun set-pieces or fights – Morbius and Milo leave these ugly trails of vapour whenever they turn their powers on, so all the vampire scenes are borderline incomprehensible, CG sludge flooding the already poorly-lit screen. Morbius never conjures up any interesting visuals, whilst there are plenty of moments so aesthetically unappealing you’re probably best off just closing your eyes.
Compounding this boredom is Leto in the lead. Given how willing and able he clearly is to run in a nonsensical direction – just look at his show-stealing performance in House of Gucci – it’s downright bizarre that he’d choose his super-vampire movie as the place to tamp down on his usual flamboyant instincts. He’s mopey and disinterested, bringing none of the goofy charm that Tom Hardy does to the Venom movies in this deeply forced shared universe. Smith is having more fun, but is still far from silly enough, while Jared Harris completely slums it as Morbius’s mentor and Adria Arjona makes zero impression whatsoever as Morbius’s colleague Martine, who becomes a pointless love interest at the very last minute. All this no-effort rubbish culminates in two clearly hurried post-credits scenes, whose teases for this universe’s future seem less like a promise than a threat.