Sony’s universe based on famous Spider-Man characters didn’t start very well. Both Venom movies have received strong reviews from critics, but maybe Morbius is just what the universe needs? Morbius is about Michael Morbius who was born with a rare blood disease for which there is no cure. However, Michael is an incredibly talented man and a successful scientist, who even won a Nobel Prize for his work. He has devoted his whole life to medical research and he will not give up hope of curing himself and all who live with this blood disease. Having, he believes, succeeded in finding a cure, he injects himself and becomes stronger than expected. However, except for the fact that he has now developed a bloodlust and has become a vampire.
The film is quick to jump straight to Michael’s transformation into a vampire, and it turns out to be no stroke of genius. At the beginning of the film, we are introduced to the boy Milo (Matt Smith), also suffering from the same disease, with whom he quickly becomes friends, and the doctor Emil Nikols (Jared Harris), who also wants to try to find a cure. However, the relationship with Milo and Nikols lacks an emotional basis, and all the characters in the film can be described as hollow. At no point is it possible to feel anything for the characters, and it’s not uncommon for the viewer to frown at their bizarre, to say the least, motives. Milo becomes, for some incomprehensible reason, mean and he wants to kill Michael at all costs.
Morbius feels extremely rushed and never accumulates emotional weight for any of the characters, and there’s fairly little substance for the rest of the story. It’s a huge shame because it’s so obvious that Jared Leto, Matt Smith, and Jared Harris are struggling to do what they can with this silly storyline. The film only delivers during the periods when director Daniel Espinosa experiments with the horror elements that create an eerie feeling, but those elements are very rare, however. Even the characters aren’t well-written, but luckily Morbius isn’t a complete character assassination like Venom. Although the script is poorly written, it at least feels like the writers tried to handle the character carefully and make it true to the comics.
The film’s special effects also leave a lot to be desired. As Morbius moves faster than the eye, Espinosa uses slow-motion effects a little too much when the Doctor is no longer in human form. All action sequences contain these effects and it becomes ridiculous the second time around. It’s not helped by the fact that the CGI is so horribly ugly that you’d rather not see the slow motion at all. Every time Michael gets angry, we viewers are also forced to watch his hideous, computer-animated vampire face, which quickly gets boring because it happens roughly every five minutes. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look scary either and it would have been great if the filmmakers had the guts to let us wait a while and not let us see the monster right away. Kind of like the start of The Incredible Hulk where we don’t fully see the green monster, a choice that leaves us a little scared of him.
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Unfortunately, Morbius isn’t what the newly created universe needs. It’s a bit better than the first Venom and considerably better than its sequel, but Sony still has a long way to go if it wants to convince moviegoers to want to invest their time in this universe. Without saying too much, the two scenes that follow the credits show that Sony has big plans for its villains but if they will manage to hold the landing, I am very skeptical.