by George Wolf
For a movie about a guy with a serious taste for blood, Morbius shows hardly any of it being spilled. That’s just one of the reasons the film feels hamstrung from what it wants to be.
What Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) wants to be is healthy. Born with a strange DNA abnormality that paired a genius mind with a broken body, Michael put “Dr.” in front of Morbius at age 19 on the way to becoming the foremost expert on blood borne diseases.
And now, his research with vampire bats from Costa Rica has yielded a breakthrough…with a catch. He gets super human, downright monstrous powers, but they wear off without more servings of blood. And while he’s getting by with the artificial variety for now, Morbius knows the time is coming when only human blood will do.
So the clock is ticking, and not just for Morbius. His colleague Martine (Adria Arjona) is feeling the heat, while Milo (Doctor Who‘s Matt Smith, who seems to enjoy hamming it up), Michael’s childhood friend who suffers from the same DNA abnormality, is eager for the cure – and fine with the consequences.
Director Daniel Espinosa (Life, Safe House) has plenty of fun with the CGI, and while the facial morphing is mighty impressive, the increased battle sequences end up trending more toward soulless, Van Helsing-style gymnastics.
Abrupt editing does Espinosa no favors, either, and the pace that initially feels nicely brisk leads to a narrative that just seems impatient. Many of the themes at work here are common to comic book adaptations, but just checking off the boxes is no substitute for development.
Screenwriters Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless (the duo behind Gods Of Egypt, The Last Witch Hunter and Dracula Untold – all dreadful) try to inject some humor via a pair of detectives (Tyrese Gibson and Al Madrigal) hunting the “vampire killer,” but what the script needs most of all is to take Milo’s advice.
Embrace what you are!
This Morbius seems too desperate to sit at the cool Spider-Man table right now, skirting the commitment to a more fully formed, standalone character that would only reap dividends down the road. And yes, sit tight during the credits for two extra peeks in that direction.
But come on, this is vampire stuff, right? Throw off those PG-13 shackles and really dig in! Go for the jugular, if you will. Man, that could have been a rush.