The Peanut Gallery Reviews Morbius
PG Score: 5/10
Morbius was released in theaters on 4/1/22
Following a string of delays, Morbius has finally seen the light of day. The long wait makes the mediocre result that much more disappointing. Saddled with a subpar screenplay, Director Daniel Espinosa (Safe House and Life) tries to conceal the glaring narrative blemishes with an excessive amount of CGI. While his efforts provide a few mildly entertaining action sequences, they are largely unsuccessful.
The newest Marvel comic book adaptation centers on Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto), a brilliant scientist afflicted with a rare blood disease. To escape his dire diagnosis, he attempts a risky operation. After seeming to be a success at first glance, something dark is unearthed and sparks an internal battle of good versus evil.
The core problems the film runs into lie within the writing and plotline. The dialogue is equal parts mind-numbingly foolish and unforgivably bland. It offers very little in the way of character development and makes for uninteresting conversations, even during (what are intended to be) climactic confrontations. Additionally, the interactions do nothing to strengthen the threadbare storyline, which is rather boring to begin with. It is also trite as the events unfold in a painfully predictable manner. Thankfully, the vampire combat extends a lifeline and provides the only excitement that Morbius has to offer.
Action and Horror
While the action is unabashedly CGI-heavy, that is not to say that the blood-sucking battles are without fun. Some of the rumbles do move the needle as the audience is treated to an anti-hero who is free of the code of conduct held by purer comic book figures like Spider-Man and Captain America. Michael does not merely incapacitate his enemies…he decimates them.
There are horror elements at play as the bloodthirsty biochemist stalks his prey, and these moments are firmly on top of a meager highlight reel. These instances are not scary, but they do create at least some suspense in a film that desperately needs tension. However, the vampiric violence also draws attention to the fact that Morbius needed an R rating. Very little aftermath of the slayings is shown, and the actual blows are frequently obscured, if the camera does not cut away altogether. People are ripped to shreds offscreen, and leaving so much up to the imagination feels like a disservice to both fans of the source material and newcomers alike.
Despite boasting a plethora of talent, the performances are surprisingly average. Jared Leto is a fine fit for the good doctor, but it never feels like he owns the role. He goes through the motions in a way that calls his commitment into question. Leto is an exceptional actor with remarkable versatility, so this halfhearted work is upsetting. Matt Smith plays Milo, longtime friend of Michael, and brings welcomed enthusiasm to the part. He injects complexity into the troubled individual, and his performance is the cast’s lone standout.
Adria Arjona dons the lab coat of Dr. Martine Bancroft and is seen alongside Leto’s Michael for most of her screen time. Her depiction is adequate but far from memorable. Jared Harris is Dr. Emil Nicholas, who functions as a guardian of sorts for Michael during his younger years and remains his friend thereafter. The Emmy nominee seems a bit bored, which is understandable to an extent given his character’s one-dimensional nature.
Highs and Lows (Mostly Lows)
Considering the gold standard of cinema that Marvel is known for, the movie is especially uninspiring. The occasionally decent fight scenes do help slightly cushion the blow, but the mitigation is minimal. Like the titular character himself, the silly script, unsatisfying performances, and Daniel Espinosa’s misguided direction drain Morbius of life.
PG Score: 5/10