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Marvel’s ‘Morbius’ sufficiently succulent

Sometimes it feels that cinema audiences can be a little harsh on films. The thoughts on the latest Marvel movie to be released – ‘Morbius’ – seem scattered. There are the downright scathing through to the ho-hum. But is this an issue that Marvel have created themselves. 

By David Griffiths

Saturday 2 April 2022, 11:00AM

Jared Leto in Morbius (2022). Image: IMDb

Jared Leto in Morbius (2022). Image: IMDb

It feels like that whenever a new Marvel film hits cinemas everyone expects it to be epic, and let’s be honest Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home have been cinematic masterpieces, but should we expect that each time Marvel brings out a new film?

Morbius is not a bad film. It is what an origins film needs to be. In the tradition of films like Ironman and Wolverine it goes back to the very beginning of a character’s journey and starts them out small before they reach the epic heights of what Marvel can produce.

For those who haven’t read the comics this brand-new Marvel hero is Dr Michael Morbius (Jared Leto – Suicide Squad). Morbius has overcome huge odds to become a respected doctor at the forefront of his field – specialising in blood disorders and diseases. He himself suffers from a debilitating blood disorder that one day is going to take his life.

Spurred on by the doctor who saved his life, Emil Nikols (Jared Harris – Chernobyl), and his best friend (and fellow blood disorder sufferer) Milo (Matt Smith – Last Night in Soho), Morbius is determined to find a cure for as many people as he can possibly can.

Soon he finds his work with the talented Dr Martine Bancroft (Adria Arjona – Pacific Rim: Uprising) venturing into dangerous territory as the pair begin to conduct experiments mixing vampire bat and human DNA. The result has a deadly consequence and soon Morbius finds himself on the radar of Detective Simon Stroud (Tyrese Gibson – Transformers) after a spate of grizzly murders.

Directed by Daniel Espinosa (Life) Morbius has much more of a genre flick feel to it than a Marvel universe film and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Admittedly the plot is pretty light, which means there isn’t a lot of opportunity for character development. But while this certainly isn’t Joker that doesn’t mean that there are no redeeming qualities for the film.

The film itself is loaded with some pretty impressive special effects that seem to mirror what we have seen in The Matrix franchise over the years. The subject matter also allows for the film to delve into the horror genre with some pretty cool ‘vamp’ looks for both Leto and Smith. If you imagine a cross between the under-rated horror Bats and Anne Rice’s Queen of the Damned you are pretty close to what you are going to get from Morbius.

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Perhaps the most frustrating thing with Morbius though is not getting more out of the performance of Jared Leto. Leto is one of the best actors on the planet at the moment – he has proven that with films like Dallas Buyers Club and even his portrayal of The Joker in Suicide Squad had merit to it. But here Leto seems to be in cruise control, he delivers an okay performance but could have gone a fair bit deeper with a character struggling with his good and evil sides.

Likewise, neither Tyrese Gibson nor Adria Arjona are given much to work with. I fact the only actor that comes out of this film as a shining light is Matt Smith who, just as he did with Last Night in Soho, seems to enjoy getting to bring his ‘evil’ side to the surface. His performance is what most audience members will end up remembering from the film.

If you don’t go into Morbius expecting something epic then you will be just fine. It is a passable action film that once again touches on Marvel’s dark side. It follows in the footsteps of some of the other origin superhero films we have seen in the past and will be enjoyed by those who have enjoyed films like Venom. There is enough in the film to suggest that as a character Morbius is going to be something special in the Marvel universe, let’s just hope with the next film they give Leto a chance to show his award-winning acting skills.

Morbius is currently screening in Phuket and is rated 13.

3/5 Stars

David Griffiths has been working as a film and music reviewer for over 20 years. That time has seen him work in radio, television and in print. You can follow him at www.facebook.com/subcultureentertainmentaus

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