On the heels of Sony’s Spider-Man: Now Way Home success story, you’d think they would be able to keep the moment going with its introduction of Marvel’s favourite vampire, Dr. Michael Morbius. But unfortunately, Morbius stops that success in its track with an awkward attempt at an origin story.
There’s not much that redeems the movie because its predictability renders the story too weak to carry through anything of substance. No real foreshadowing occurs in the film, as you can see the plot coming a mile away. It’s like being told a tale by a child relying on ‘and then this happened, and then this happens’ to keep the story going.
We’re introduced to a pallid Dr. Morbius (Jared Leto) using crutches to keep himself upright due to an incurable blood disease. And within seconds, we hear of his obsession with vampire bats, and he cuts open his palm with a dirty knife to lure them to him. Just like that, we know what’s to come. Next, we get a flashback of young Michael (Charlie Shotwell) in a hospital/boarding school, playing chess against himself, surrounded by kids with the same condition and about to meet his soon-to-be friend. The child actors who play young Moribus and his friend Milo are the most compelling characters in the film. Especially Joseph Esson, who plays young Milo, manages to deliver more emotion and depth in a couple of mins than the adults in Morbius.
That lack of depth is primarily due to the aggressively fast pacing of the story, which leaves you little time to become invested in the characters or their plights.
The in-story timeline of the movie’s events is a week that simultaneously feels like too much time and not enough since so much is happening to the characters. Still, they seem to take everything in stride and process it all immediately.
Even characters who have known each other for their entire lives seem to accept momentous and even monstrous changes radically.
In the trailer, we learned about the ship full of bodies that wash ashore. The police’s immediate conclusion that it must’ve been a vampire comes off as comedic and ridiculous. Milo (Matt Smith), upon coming face to face with a blood starved Michael, immediately leaps to embrace his friend. Even after having just watched him down a pint of blood. Despite being chased by allegations of murder, people seem indifferent, cracking holy water and Dracula jokes as if they aren’t fighting against a ticking clock counting down to a disastrous end.
And speaking of disastrous ends, the final boss battle severely underwhelms. Matt
Smith’s Milo as an antagonist lacks any gravitas or villainous presence; he comes off more as petulant and inconsistent. The excessive use of CGI to show off Morbius’ powers and affinity for bats also obscure what could’ve been phenomenal stunt work making the combat even less impactful.
All the less than favourable rumours circulating about Morbius made me apprehensive about attending the press screening, to begin with. But I went into it hoping for better. Unfortunately, the movie ended up being even worse than the rumours led me to believe. The saving grace is that both end credit scenes happen almost immediately after the movie ends, so you can leave immediately.