Morbius (2022)

“Morbius, The Living Vampire” is one of those third tier Spider-Man villains who were never quite iconic, but also never someone you could write off as a lightweight. While he originated with Spider-Man he fit more in to the horror corner of the Marvel universe, and much like Marvel, his feature film debut doesn’t really know what to do with him, exactly. The movie audiences never seem to lose their appetites for stylish vampire movies, and “Morbius” had franchise written all over him to where could have served as an unofficial companion to the “Blade” movie series. It’s hard to believe that Sony could get “Morbius, the Living Vampire” so wrong from the gate.

Oscar winner Jared Leto transforms into the enigmatic antihero Michael Morbius. Dangerously ill, and born with a rare blood disorder that has held him back his entire life, and determined to save others suffering his same fate, Dr. Morbius attempts a desperate gamble at using bats’ blood to help cure the rare blood disease. While at first it seems to be a radical success, a vampiric darkness inside him is unleashed. With Morbius struggling to fight his blood thirst, he has to face the terrible repercussions of his experiment gone awry, especially after being framed for murdering a nurse.

Sony, like every other major studio, seems to have franchise aspirations for Morbius, even propping him up for entry in to the Spider-Man films. But they seem to lose all faith in the final hour, resulting in a dreadful film that has a vague connection to Spider-Man. I say vague because if you know he’s from Spider-Man, then the work is all done. “Morbius” is a painfully boring, listless, tedious (slightly ableist) horror action film that never quite knows where it wants to go. It aims for body horror, themes about god complex; then it’s a Frankenstein tale, a Gothic romance, and a man learning to embrace his vampiric urges.

There’s also a tale about two lifelong friends, both of whom have vastly different ideas about what they want to do with their newfound abilities and physical form. Jared Leto literally sleepwalks through “Morbius” offering a performance as the titular character that is so one dimensional and bland, it’ll be tough to root for him. Even at his most vulnerable. Compensating for the sheer lack of enthusiasm is Matt Smith who is very good in the role as a character that is… or may not be… the film’s central villain. The writers never decided, even in the final scenes. They also jump in and out of the quite obvious homoerotic overtones between Smith and Leto’s characters.

The writers work over time to push back on the obvious themes mid-way with a dull tacked on romantic sub-plot with Adria Arjona’s character. As for any other characters, you feel instantly bad for Tyreese and AJ Madrigal, both of whom play hard boiled detectives chasing down Morbius. They have no real purpose in the film, contribute nothing but the obligatory obstacle, and sadly only show up for three short scenes just to remind us that they’re there. “Morbius” is just down right awful from top to bottom. It feels like a movie plucked right out of 2004 (no soundtrack by Mudvayne or Godsmack), and oddly enough made me long for the “Underworld” movie series, which are also terrible, but at least charismatic and charming.