Morbius doesn’t wholly fall flat, but it would have accomplished far more with a firmer story direction.
All his life, Michael Morbius struggles to find a cure for his debilitating blood disease. While he succeeds in developing a blue, artificial blood, he remains enslaved by his condition; the same for his surrogate brother Milo. Desperate for a solution, Michael resorts to unorthodox, illegal experiments with vampire bat DNA. The results far exceed his wildest expectations. However, they also come with a hefty price. One that goes beyond transforming Michael physically and mentally.
So … after two decades of development indecision, and another two years of delay no thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, Morbius is finally out in the cinemas. Critics have since been absolutely bloody, no pun intended, with their comments.
Reception isn’t better with audiences too, with CinemaScore reporting a C+ score. This makes Morbius a rarer example in recent years in which viewers actually agree with professional critics. (Something worth discussing another time, perhaps)
For me, I think I’d summarise the movie as “it tries.” It tries to be atmospheric and thrilling, but ends up stumbling in every chapter over its indecision to be classic gothic horror or modern superhero action.
Simply put, the movie begins on a standard superhero note with Morbius’ decision to seek out vampire bats. Once his big cure is attained, however, the horror elements start drifting in. I say drift, because like fog, the dark ambience never settles. The story tone alternates too much between dark horror and meta-human action before the final showdown.
Without surprise, everything else then takes a beating because of this indecision of story tone, beginning with how you never get to know Michael Morbius beyond his intelligence and desperation for a cure. (Why was he so reluctant to accept the Nobel Prize?) This is such a waste considering Jared Leto both looks and feels perfect for the role of a suffering genius, one who’s torn apart by moral dilemma. To a large extent, I’d even say the supporting role of “Milo” was better fleshed out. At least viewers were introduced to the murderous fury nesting within Milo. An anger concealed by his decadent, rich-boy demeanour.
Yup. To repeat, the movie tries, but it ended up trying too much to be many things. And like all such attempts, not getting anywhere.
Come to the action and effects, I’m aware these are unpopular with many but I have to say they kept the show alive for me. Mainly because all that wispy black smoke and magical dashing reminded me of Alucard’s snazzy moves in that video game legend, Symphony of the Night. I’m pretty sure I’m lonely with this opinion.
The story, well, it’s as I wrote in my visual summary. It’s lazy with details but not necessarily awful. It’s just standard Sunday morning cartoon fare that’s been told a thousand times since the 70s. Blindingly vapid when compared to what we’ve been getting in the superhero genre.
And nope. The MCU-style cameo at the end DOES NOT help. Frankly, I felt it was absurd. It further gives the impression that the producers know they have stumbled big time, and are scrambling to make you forget.
Check out my other snappy movie reviews.