Let’s talk about Morbius.
Because of the popularity of Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man in No Way Home (If the adverts for the DVD can have him in it, I’m ok to spoil it), a lot of people have been revisiting The Amazing Spider-Man films and the plans. The consensus hasn’t really changed. The first one is solid, the second one buckles under trying to set up a massive universe. After the second film flopped, the spin-offs were flopped and a deal was reached with Marvel to have Spider-Man in the MCU. But the idea of a Spider-Universe was never killed and with the success of the two Venom films, Sony saw a chance to really get things going. And so, here we are with Morbius.
Michael Morbius is a world famous scientist who suffers with a deadly blood disease. He believes he has come up with a curse using vampire bats but after an experiment goes wrong, he instead ends up becoming a vampire like monster.
Working out a script is bad and the entire problem with a movie can be tricky. After all, so many great scripts end up getting butchered when being turned into a movie, hence the amount of terrible films on the famous Black List. But this is one of those films that was dead on arrival due to how horribly it has been written. First off, let’s talk about the dialogue. When there have been deaths, seemingly at the hands of Morbius, the media get to come up with a nickname for him as they do for so many murderers. So what is the catchy and clever nickname they think of for a murderer who might be a vampire? The Vampire Murderer! There’s less imagination in porridge. Then, we have a line set to go down as a classic. Before the conclusion, Morbius is making a concoction that could defeat the villain. He says the line “to bats… it’s lethal. To humans, it’s deadly.”. It’s writing that would get you chucked out of a GCSE English clash, never mind a big flashy Hollywood blockbuster. Something this amateur should not make it into a film of this budget.
But the writing is also bad on a plotting level as well. Let’s take the start of the film. This is when Morbius is planning his experiment involving the vampire bats. He has Martine Bancroft by his side, who is very doubtful of the whole thing. She constantly asks him would it be worth it and he didn’t know what he was getting into. The reason she says this is because every film experiment needs a doubter, especially one the audience knows is going to go wrong in some way of form. Does she have any evidence or reason to think it will go horribly wrong? Not really, other than fact it’s illegal to do the type of experiment Morbius wants to do on US soil. But it’s also illegal to have a Kinder Egg in America and I doubt that’d get the tense tones Martine gives. Throughout the movie, these ‘Things that happen because it’s a movie and they need to happen’ keep happening and it’s the sign of a lazy plot. There’s a kidnapping in this film where they forget to show the kidnapping! That’s how bad this is!
And at this point, let’s just admit that while he deserved his Oscar, this Jared Leto actor experiment isn’t really working and he should probably go on tour with 30 Seconds to Mars again. Concert tickets are like £80 now so he’d make a mint. As a leading man, he is awful. He likes the charisma to be likable and he never gets to grip with this role. I’ll admit, he’s not exactly well served by the role. Leto is a bit of a weird actor and that’s probably why someone thought playing a vampire would be a good idea. But then the script asks he play it like any other superhero out there with quips and jokes. And while I’m sure there is a movie out there where Leto could excel as the main character, he’s definitely not the sort of actor who can do a quip in the middle of an action scene. Either you write a script which makes the most of Leto’s strengths or you hire an actor who can actually crack a joke.
I suppose it doesn’t really help that he is put across from Matt Smith. The former Doctor Who’s agent is absolutely terrible because he is consistently in terrible movies such as Terminator: Genisys and Pride, Prejudice and Zombies but there is something you can say about him. He really does try. While I feel like Leto gave up at some point in this movie when he realised it’s a load of rubbish that doesn’t deserve his time, which is arguable as I’d say this is his level, Smith is really working hard trying to make something out of this terrible script he’s been handed. He decides to go proper British villain on the thing and just be very over the top and exaggerate all of his vocal tones and hand movements. This is not a great performance and seriously Matt I like you so please fire your agent and maybe hire Karen Gillian’s, but it is at least entertaining which I will take.
The action scenes can be passable at times as well. I do like what they have tried to do with the purple and black wisps which show the various movements that Morbius is doing. It’s a nice bit of visual flair and one of the few ideas this film has that seems to work. For the most part the action scenes are also fairly well directed and they might raise a slight pulse at times. Well there is the moment it seems like someone dropped the camera down some stairs and they decided to use the footage, but that is a one off at least. I will also say the film’s pacing is good but that’s mostly because I am trying to be nice at this point and come up with any compliment I can.
Morbius is a vampire film with no bite. It has one of the most awful scripts that sometimes feels more like a fan wrote it as a side project while watching Spider-Man cartoons on Netflix. It’s the sort of script that you’d have been embarrassed handing in as a first draft, never mind the completed thing. Because of this, the film falls about. The terrible dialogue stops us having any engagement with the characters and then the plot is just broken and feels like it’s missing several crucial parts. Jared Leto then gives a limp leading performance which in fairness to him, is all the script deserves. By the end, you’d wish a stake had been driven through your heart to end the pain.