The signs point to total failure. But this is flawed MORBIUS far past. The film adaptation of the Marvel comics of the same name is by no means a highlight of the studio’s history, but it is a good basis for further adventures – which will hopefully be given a better story. We reveal more about this in our review.
OT: Morbius (USA 2022)
Ever since he was a small child, the brilliant scientist Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) suffers from a dangerous blood disease. His best friend Milo (Matt Smith) also shares this fate. And it’s not just for him that Morbius ventures into dangerous, scientific realms. Crossing human DNA with bat DNA initially promises success in the form of healing. But what initially appears to be a fundamental success soon unleashes a dark abyss within Morbius himself, which mutates more and more into a beast. And neither his warm colleague Martin Bancroft (Adria Arjona) nor Milo can free Morbius from the irrepressible desires that overcome him from then on…
Even before “Morbius” even entered the box office race as a new entry in the Marvel film universe led by Venom, the signs weren’t necessarily pointing to success. On the contrary: the first forecasts from the United States predicted that the film, which starred Jared Leto, would be a resounding failure. When the film was finally shown to the trade press, the colleagues were literally overwhelmed with shame for the film, which had already been made under bad auspices. In addition to various reshoots and reports of changes in the script, “Morbius” was one the Losers of the Corona crisis; has been postponed several times. Nevertheless, it can also be read as a leap of faith that the Sony studio believes the film will be such a success that they have always stuck to a theatrical release over the long period of time. Completely different productions have already found their way onto some streaming service instead of into the cinemas… Before this trust comes, one thing is clear: “Venom: Let there be Carnage” performed massively above expectations at the US box office and “Morbius” is not least an addition to – if you can call it that – the “’Venom’ universe. So it’s only logical that “Morbius” suffers the same fate as the films of its quasi-predecessor Tom Hardy. The negative signs don’t turn out to be as true as expected and yet all three films make the same mistakes.
Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) is researching a cure.
First of all, director Daniel Espinosa succeeds (“Life”) but one thing significantly better than “Venom 1” director Ruben Fleischer. The structure of the Dr. Morbius from the troubled foster child to the brilliant scientist to the “evil Batman”, who mutates into a monster after a daring experiment with bats, is portrayed in suitably dark images. The violence (and especially the blood) content is all too moderate, which is certainly due to the strive for a PG-13 rating. So you don’t even explicitly see how the contents of the blood reserves find their way into Morbius’ body. Nevertheless, Espinose relies on a massive reduction in humor. There are hardly any cheeky one-liners, the hallmark of the interaction between Eddie and Venom. In this atmospheric environment, the feeling for the birth of a maybe-maybe-not villain – but definitely an anti-hero – can be realized much more believably than in the very indecisive “Venom”. Beyond that is Jared Leto (“Blade Runner 2049”) an obvious choice for the crazy scientist, whose exuberant, sometimes eccentric performance is simply – in the truest sense of the word – in Leto’s blood. In this constellation of a believably torn main character and a dark tonality, “Morbius” generates all of its tension in the first half. Although of course you have to fully accept that a genetic experiment will once again go awry and turn a person into a monster. As if the characters in the film had never seen a genre film before. After all, the plans for a “Morbius” film adaptation have existed since 2005. And back then, people weren’t as fed up with this topic as they are today…
“Jared Leto is an obvious choice for the mad scientist, whose exuberant, sometimes eccentric performance is simply – in the truest sense of the word – in Leto’s blood. “Morbius” generates all its tension in the first half in this constellation of a believably torn main character and a dark tonality.”
What the screenwriters Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless (“Dracula Untold”) What fails in the meantime is the creation of an antagonist. And here too there are parallels to “Venom 1 and 2”, in which everything outside of the actual film conflict worked much better than the conflict itself. This is how a villainous figure emerges from Morbius’ past, whose motivation is so weak that that it is almost pleasant how succinctly (and quickly!) the fight between good and evil is dealt with here. The adversary’s emergence is particularly implausible because the script previously described the character as emotionally strong with Dr. Morbius’ sympathetic figure, whose fantasies change in such a sudden way that it robs the film’s narrative basis of credibility. This makes it difficult to get excited, especially in the last third, but it also ensures that the successful characterization of the actual main character lays a good foundation for further films. Also like with “Venom”, except that the makers didn’t use this potential for part two and instead made the same mistakes again…
Milo (Matt Smith) and Dr. Morbius have been best friends since childhood and have never lost sight of each other even as adults.
Visually, “Morbius” goes through some highs and lows over the course of its briskly told 100 minutes. Packed with computer effects, the entire film has a certain artificiality to it. Nevertheless, Daniel Espinosa uses some visual gimmicks, for which he is clearly based on “The Matrix”. Suddenly, lively action scenes almost stop in the middle, only to be continued in super slow motion (and just as suddenly resumed at normal speed). That’s exciting, but every now and then it also reveals that the CGI-distorted faces of the people fighting with each other aren’t that successful in terms of tricks, which the faster fight choreographies can easily disguise. The scenes in which Morbius orientates himself through the streets of New York City with sonar before he plunges himself into the depths at breakneck speed prove to be more successful. You don’t get a feeling for the radius in which the whole story takes place. The rapid changes between the individual set pieces also rob the audience of the overview, which is made worse by some continuity errors. After all, it has the advantage that “Morbius” has almost no lengths at all. The time gained could have been used to fine-tune a more plausible villain motivation…
“Packed with computer effects, the entire film has a certain artificiality to it. Nevertheless, Daniel Espinosa uses some visual gimmicks, for which he is clearly based on ‘The Matrix’.”
Meanwhile, there is no meeting with Venom. Only in one scene – which is ideal for the trailer – is Tom Hardy’s flagship figure verbally alluded to. Presumably to simply remind people that there could be another clash here soon. For it to get that far, “Morbius” would first have to perform at the box office. And despite the massive advertising measures, it doesn’t look like that at the moment. The film falls between two chairs: it’s not bloody and brutal enough to be a classic vampire story, the actual conflict only works to a limited extent on its own, and as a fast-paced comic book film, everything here is visually too monotonous. Meanwhile, Jared Leto alone makes you want more. And perhaps the makers will use this basis – unlike that of “Venom” – in a possible second part.
Conclusion: “Morbius”, like “Venom 1” and “Venom: Let there be Carnage”, does not deserve the massive hatred, but due to its weaknesses, which are 1:1 comparable to those films, it is still a long way from being a really good film . Thanks to Jared Leto and a believably depressing atmosphere, it’s easily enough for a “solid”. However, the script is too weak for more and the villain’s motivation is too absurd and unbelievable.
“Morbius” can be seen in USA cinemas from March 31, 2022.