‘MORBIUS’ Review: Jared Leto: Vampire Hunter

For all of you wondering, “Morbius” is indeed a real movie; despite the numerous delays and April Fools’ release date. It’s been a long road for the “Buffy the Vampire” — er, wait — “Morbius” film, which for one reason or another moved out of its prime post-“No Way Home” release slot to April Fools’ Day. What did feel like an April Fools’ joke, however, was the fact that my screening accidentally sat everyone in the wrong auditorium, resulting in a switch and the workers having to restart the film. It may have been just five minutes, but you could grab a drink at this AMC’s bar with that much time. And believe me, in order to sit through “Morbius,” you need that drink. Was the final delay a secret effort to film a secret Andrew Garfield or Tobey Maguire cameo that would actually draw audiences to see this film? Well, if the director is allowed to spoil his own movie a week before its wide release, I think I can say no, it doesn’t. “Morbius” is more of a filler track on a somewhat rich — if you can really call any comic book movie franchise “rich” — album. It would never get radio play as a single a la “Kyoto,” but it’s also not a hidden gem like “Chinese Satellite.” If you’re not following, “Morbius” offers nothing to the Spider-Man “lore” — regardless of what universe it takes place in — and is that album track that somehow managed its way on to pad the runtime of the album.

Jared Leto, hot off his Razzie-nominated performance that broke your heart in “House of Gucci,” is Michael Morbius; a doctor determined to cure his blood disease. But would you believe it, his “cure” puts him in touch with his vampire side and begins to deteriorate his relationship with a longtime friend with the same disease, Milo (Matt Smith).

Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) in Columbia Pictures’ MORBIUS. Jay Maidment © 2022 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Does the plot sound familiar? Maybe that’s because “Morbius” derives from two other movies from Sony’s catalog, “The Amazing Spider-Man” and “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” They couldn’t even reach a branch further than the intertwined Spider-Man web. Michael Morbius is the Lizard from the first “Amazing Spider-Man” movie and Milo becomes Dane DeHaan’s Harry Osborn after seeing the physical changes that Michael goes through when taking his serum. Being that the two suffer from the same disease, of course, Milo wants in on this serum. But alas, as Michael says, the serum is “so experimental,” possibly “unethical,” and “so dangerous” that it must be tested overseas (yet they test it 13 miles offshore from Long Island).

While Jared Leto feels like he’s playing an extension of himself outside of his Oscar-nominated movies, Matt Smith is having a joyful time chewing up the scenery. Leto did the same in “House of Gucci” and gave up a turn to Smith in “Morbius.” Smith, coming off of a stellar performance in “Last Night in Soho,” decided to take on a comic book role after getting advice from Karen Gilan. No offense to Ms. Gilan, but maybe think twice about taking advice from someone who’s in one of the very few creative comic book franchises (“Guardians of the Galaxy”). She hasn’t seen the other end of the spectrum, and Smith got set up like Pesci in “Goodfellas.” That being said, he’s clearly having a blast in his hammy performance, but that should not be enough to make a fan of Smith see this film (and that’s coming from an Al Pacino fan that has seen “Jack and Jill”).

Milo (Matt Smith) in Columbia Pictures’ “Morbius.” Jay Maidment © 2022 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

And what is a comic book movie without thrilling action? The answer is “Morbius.” You know, in 2002, “Morbius” would be pretty rad. It’s full of sweeping aerial shots; POV shots; and slow-mo gunfire that “The Matrix” tackled nearly 30 years ago. And even despite decades of technological advancements, “Morbius” feels like a product of the past. The uninspiring action sequences offer very little outside of some growls and pretty colors and for a movie about vampires, the film backs off from any sort of horror. The one scene that can be applauded is when someone hunts down a nurse in the creepiest (and longest) hallway of all time. It’s a ripoff of “Lights Out,” which managed to use its PG-13 rating to create some thrills and scares, but at least there was some imagination in this scene.

Back to the action, the third act of “Morbius” makes you more thankful for the third acts of films like “Avengers: Endgame” and “Shang-Chi.” For as messy as they both are, they’re fun to a certain degree. No one will have the same sentiments walking out of “Morbius.” It’s a glorified game of tag that makes its way through the subway like it’s “Carlito’s Way.” When it ends, it just ends. There’s no surprise revival from the character that dies, and it’s surprising considering you’re dealing with vampires here. If “Morbius” was all about two mortal men, I get it. But you have two characters that drink blood like a fresh box of Capri-Suns and the best you could do was a CGI fight where the two float around like Casper the Ghost for 10 minutes?

Agent Stroud (Tyrese Gibson) and Agent Rodriguez (Al Madrigal) in Columbia Pictures’ “Morbius.” Jay Maidment © 2022 CTMG, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

“Morbius” is a swift death, if nothing else. It won’t bring physical pain to your eyes and brain-like “Eternals” and “Black Widow” did, but it’s so goddamn forgettable. Tyrese Gibson is in the film paired with Ben Affleck’s assistant coach in “The Way Back,” played by Al Madrigal, and yet, their presence is not felt at all. The former is as believable playing an FBI agent as he was surviving landmine explosions in “F9.” Let “Morbius” be a lesson to studios; please stop making spin-offs without a bigger picture in mind. The post-credits scene for “Morbius” is so goddamn stupid and nonsensical that it makes “The Lost City” spoiling the Brad Pitt cameo look genius. Like, the motivations in this movie never made much sense, but the character shift in the post-credits scene was so abrupt. Maybe I missed something during my much-needed pee/mental break halfway through but I thought the whole point of the film was to portray Michael as an “anti-hero,” dare I say “tweener.” The post-credits scene will confuse you if you thought the same thing.

I don’t like to crap on movies, but “Morbius” makes it very hard to do anything else but that. The character of Morbius is like the cousin who is always left out; “Morbius” is simply a comic book movie for the sake of filling checking another character off of the list. Rough week for comic book properties between “Moon Knight” and “Morbius.”

Grade: D-

Sony will release “Morbius” on April 1.

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