I’ve probably seen more trailers for Morbius than any other movie in my entire life. I definitely remember seeing a few before 2020 closes, but it’s not just about how well they come back.
No, I’ve seen them constantly since then, from theaters reopening in August 2020 to last week when I realized I was seeing one for the last time—the end of an era. The film kept being pushed back, far enough to be out of his reach, but that never justified taking the trailer out of turn.
Apparently someone wanted to ditch this movie on the proper off-weekend where it would be devoid of decent competition. To be fair, the strategy paid off, as the film opened to $39 million last weekend, but that success came at the cost of telling people the movie didn’t have confidence in the studio.
Having finally seen Morbius, I can say with confidence that the lack of confidence was fully justified.
Jared Leto plays Michael Morbius, a brilliant, eccentric doctor who is obsessed with treating his rare blood disease. He’s so cool that he won a Nobel Prize but so eccentric that he tells the committee in a scene that should have been the highlight of this movie, yet so bafflingly happening off-screen.
He knows that the solution involves attaching human DNA to him with a vampire bat, and will only require moral flexibility and an expensive trip to Costa Rica. Michael only has the ex, but fortunately wealthy childhood friend and injured co-worker Milo (Matt Smith) is more than happy to help with the latter, provided Michael shares whatever treatment he finds.
Michael’s experiments on himself yielded mixed results. On the one hand, it was cured. In fact, it’s better than healing, it develops super powers like bat wings and bat radar (unlike other bat-themed action hero who doesn’t have superpowers, like a bat or otherwise).
On the other hand, he becomes a killer vampire who needs to drink blood in ever-shrinking time intervals. He even nearly attacked his partner and girlfriend Martin (Adria Arjuna).
He’s totally fine with being locked away so he can’t hurt anyone, but Milo takes treatment and becomes a vampire with far fewer comments about killing people or torturing the audience with a misplaced dance. The only thing that can stop vampire Milo is vampire Michael, but with two vampires on the loose, the world is doubly in danger.
Of course, no one sees “Morbius” only for Morbius. The real attraction here is knowing how Spider-Man fits in. “The Living Vampire” is in the rogue gallery at the box office Juggernaut, and resides in the same universe as Venom. The trailers gave that some Dr. Strange’s universe manipulation allowed Vulture (Michael Keaton, speaking of another bat-themed action hero) to switch universes and propose a team up with Morbius.
And that’s all there is to it. You don’t see this movie expecting to see more than minimal Vulture, anything more than references to Venom, or anything at all with Spider-Man. You will be very disappointed.
In fact, you’ll probably be disappointed with Morbius no matter what you expect. The characters are unforgettable, the action scenes are incomprehensible, and the film’s color scheme is one of the best I’ve ever seen. I think someone wanted the movie to look like a vampire had been drained of all life.
It got the job done, I guess, but isn’t there a way to get a shocking tone without making the movie ugly and miserable? I mentioned earlier that I saw a trailer for “Moribius” in August of 2020 when theaters started opening. More than anything, this movie reminds me of “The New Mutants,” released at the time: lifeless, pathetic, and casually tied to the Marvel feature we really want to see.
“Morbius” is rated PG-13 for its intense sequences of violence, some frightening visuals, and strong, succinct language. Its running time is 104 minutes.
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