The output of movies based on comic book properties isn’t slowing down any time soon, which is why I appreciate filmmakers who take a different crack at the genre. While some of these anomalies are laughed off or forgotten by their demographics, I tend to stick up for these weird flicks (I got a kick out of the buddy comedy dynamic in Venom) . What I’m trying to say is that I wanted to be on Morbius’ side, but its mixed signals prevented me from firmly getting in its corner.
Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) has dedicated his career to find a cure for his persisting and worsening disease. He shares the debilitating circumstances with Lucian (Matt Smith), a victim of the same disease who met Morbius at a young age in long-term care. Michael and Lucian keep in touch, although a new discovery made by Morbius is kept quiet. He believes a cure has been found after some dicey experimentation, but Michael (being an eccentric renegade) wants to test it on himself. The results are horrific with slight hope. His former illness is tapered, but Michael is transformed into a vampiric creature who is beyond agile and craves fresh blood.
In this contemporary take on the Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde personality swap, Morbius wants to be a comic book origin story as badly as it wants to be a monster movie. However, filmmaker Daniel Espinosa (2017’s Life), along with Power Rangers screenwriters Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless, can’t commit to the tongue-in-cheek, freaky tone the film should be sporting. Instead, Morbius takes itself way too seriously. That said, to pull this trick off, the movie does have to be rooted to a character’s sincere desperation. Leto, while too sombre, does a good job being the movie’s anchor and Smith, while too whiny, compliments Leto’s leading performance well enough. Unfortunately, the movie is too sullen for its own good; caking on too much pasty make-up, laying on the dramatic dialogue too thick, and overdoing the flash special effects that resemble more of an app filter than anything remotely frightening.
It may be a disappointment, but I can still appreciate Morbius because I was consistently interested in it despite having generic qualities. But, like Michael Morbius’ erratic behaviour, this just isn’t tamed enough.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie