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Morbius

***
2022

‘…despite aspirations to Cronenbergian body-horror, Morbius’s bloody action amounts to a lengthy thin-off between Leto and Smith…’

‘You wouldn’t like me when I’m hungry,’ warns Michael Morbius the Living Vampire; to be honest, I wasn’t that keen about this guy when he was fully fed and watered. Daniel Espinosa’s horror/thriller feels like on off-shoot from an off-shoot (the model is to ape the success of Venom from the Spiderman metaverse) and that origin story suggests inessential viewing. But although I’d never heard of the character before, Morbius has enough adult content to make it a bloody snack for hungry MCU fans to enjoy between their regular super-sized super-hero meals.

As with Venom and Tom Hardy, Morbius sees a serious actor struggling for purchase in a comic-book world; Jared Leto at least carries some kind of broody mystique into his role as a NYC scientist with a rare blood disease searching for a cure by splicing his DNA with that supplied by lots of Costa Rican bats. This quest resolves itself in a conflict with surrogate brother and childhood friend Milo (yet another awful turn from Matt Smith), who gains the same bat-like powers as Morbius, putting them in direct competition for precious supplies of the anticoagulant serum that will allow them to harness their super-powers; there’s a nice shot of Morbius coasting the down-draft from a subway train like the bats he steals DNA from.

Plugs for Monster energy drinks tell you exactly what arrested development audience Morbius is aimed at; despite aspirations to Cronenbergian body-horror, Morbius’s bloody action amounts to a lengthy thin-off between Leto and Smith, two performers who love to let their skeletal physique do the heavy lifting. Also along for the ride are rando ingredients like Jared Harris, The Jam’s A Town Called Malice, jokes about The Notebook (yet again) and the usual mid-credits tie in to other movies in the form of a brief cameo from Michael Keaton’s Spiderman villain.

What Morbius resembles closely is the MCU’s more familiar blood-sucking character Blade with a transforming good vampire who fights bad vampires for synthetic blood to retain his less destructive form. As a film, the much delayed and reshot Morbius is too dark and dank in tone to ever have had strong appeal to the family audience that often turns out for super-hero extravaganzas, but it’s of-a-piece with the lightweight Venom movies, passable, forgettable entertainment for easily-pleased teenage boys. When Morbius is challenged about his changing physical appearance, he quips in confidence ‘pilates helps’, and a few bursts of that kind of self-deprecating humour just about keeps this silly ship afloat.

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  1. Morbius has just about doubled its budget at the box office … as eye-rolling as the concept of a cinematic universe made up of just “Spider-Man” villains is, Sony’s plan is working, though I do think the Kraven the Hunter film will be the make-or-break point of this weird offshoot of Marvel.

    Regardless, Venom movies will make money until Sony doesn’t want to make them anymore.

    • And there’ll be waves of nostalgia years from now when they bring back Morbius, whether he became a franchise or not, and have three different actors playing three different Morbius’s, just wake me up when it’s all over. If they tried making stand-alone movies with stand-alone characters, I’d be mroe interested…their plan may work, but I dodn’t have to go along with it!

  2. Sonic was a bust. The first one I enjoyed, a nice mixture of playful and unexpected and Jim Carrey a good villain. This was all over the shop, two new characters, a wedding (!) and I certainly felt uncomfortable at the appearance of comic Russians.

  3. Thought Morbius was okay. Interesting enough concept and well done in places. Surprised to hear it had terrible reviews. It’s not mainstream MCU but I thought that was the whole point. Leto had enough of the baleful to make the character work but i am getting fed up with the Matt Smith slouch and quiff. Had to remind myself who the hell Michael Keaton was in the MCU scheme of things.

    • Now that IS a double bill for the ages. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on these films.

  4. Yeah, I’m on the same boat as Fraggle. I was done with the MCU after the Infinity War duology. I did watch the second spiderman movie and at some point I’ll probably watch the third one, but that’s not a given like it used to be.
    So this is not something I’m even remotely interested in. I have a feeling audiences will agree with your sentiments….

  5. Infinity War ended things for me, I did a couple of the new Spider-Man movies and the first Venom and even The Eternals but none match the Avengers series for me and I can’t be arsed with any of them anymore. Nope.

    • I hear you, and that’s not far away from where I stand with it. If these films are so similar, what’s the point?

      • There was a little bit of magic in the Avengers ensemble and a script & cast that gave the characters some depth, it wasn’t all about the CGI,plus they were funny. Missed all that in the new stuff.

        • I never thought I’ve nostalgic for the MCU but I guess that’s where we are right now…

  6. I liked the comics. Thought this had the potential to be, not a gamechanger, but at least something a notch above the usual superhero dreck. But sounds like we’ve been here before many, many, many times.

    • Not au fait with the comics, but this just feels like Venom with a slightly different modus operandi. Watchable, but very derivative…

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