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Morbius Review

Following years of delays, Sony continues to expand their Spider-Man Universe with Morbius, following sequel Venom 2 and Spider-Man No Way Home. Based on the Marvel Comics character Morbius the Living Vampire, the horror-based rogue was originally a foe of Blade and Spider-Man, but throughout comic book history has been known to switch allegiances between tragically flawed antihero to a villain – which on paper, mirrors Tom Hardy’s Venom nicely. But, while the trailers teased a darker foray into brooding, gothic horror with exciting connections to the wider Spidey universe, the final cut leaves much to be desired – resulting in a surprisingly limp and formulaic origin flick.

Directed by Daniel Espinosa, Morbius follows the exploits of Nobel Prize winner biochemist Dr Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) as he attempts to cure a rare but crippling blood disease which threatens his, his childhood friend Milo (Matt Smith) and many other lives. As Morbius discovers a potentially life changing breakthrough after splicing DNA with that of a vampire bat, he takes a risky gamble and tests his new serum on himself, with the help of fellow scientist Martine Bancroft (Adria Arjona). While initially, the enhancement appears a radical success which could potentially save thousands of lives, the subsequent transformation results in an overpowering vampiric bloodlust which proves hard to control.

Following an intriguing cold opening which sees the doctor travelling to a dark and eerie cave full of bats in a Costa Rican rainforest – with his guides advising him he should not be traveling after sundown – the narrative jumps back in time to his childhood in an orphanage, shifting gears into a disappointingly familiar origins tale. What follows is an intensely bland and mostly bloodless tale which falls flat without the wider connections, as the majority of the much teased connective tissue with the wider Sony and Marvel Spider-Verse has been disappointingly cut. This results in an immensely disjointed narrative, leaving me wondering how many versions of the film were left on the cutting room floor.

While it certainly doesn’t live up to it’s teased horror roots, Leto and co. (excluding Matt Smith) play it surprisingly straight – resulting in a drearily dour instalment which is distinctly lacking in the fun nature and bonkers central chemistry of Tom Hardy’s Venom. The intently formulaic origin narrative from writers Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless hits all the recognisable story beats, harking back to early superhero outings such as Daredevil and Ghost Rider, resulting in a film which feels made by committee simply to continue building Sony’s Sinister Six for their larger cinematic universe.

Following his reportedly bizarre exploits going method as the unhinged, gangster-esque Joker, Leto has definitely restrained himself here, channeling a tortured and conflicted scientist with the best intentions at heart. But it’s Matt Smith’s flamboyant and hammy performance as rich kid Milo who steals the show, as it appears he was perhaps sent the wrong memo, mistaking this for the other Sony Spider-less outing Venom. The Doctor Who star revels in the ever increasing villainous turn, gleefully indulging his bloodlust in spite of his friend’s efforts to stop him. Unfortunately the rest of the cast serve as poorly underwritten supporting characters, including Adria Arjona as fellow doctor turned love interest Martine Bancroft, Tyrese Gibson’s agent Simon Stroud and even Jared Harris as long-term guardian Emil Nikols.

While many were quick to judge No Way Home’s over-reliance on CGI environments and backdrops, Morbius comparatively features much more digital effects which are undoubtedly lacking in quality. The film descends into the typical beat-um-up third act, as the doctor and Milo go head to head in a blurry of blows (and pixels) as they fly across a dingy and colourless New York skyline, with an occasional dynamic camera movement and intriguing echo-location flourish. Their vampiric transformations are a result of ghoulish visual effects, with equally questionable bloodsplatter effects often peppering the lens. On top of that, the baffling post-credits scenes will certainly raise plenty of eyebrows, defying motivations and previous spells to further continue the expanded universe.


For a darker, vampiric twist on the superhero origin, Morbius is all bark and no bite – resulting in a formulaic origins tale which descends into a CGI mess, relegating all of the more interesting connective tissue to the post-credit scenes. At least Venom is a relatively fun (but shlocky) outing thanks to Tom Hardy’s bonkers performance. Where Sony’s expanded cinematic universe goes from here is anyone’s guess.