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‘Morbius’ is a hit on Netflix – but is it any good?

Editor’s Note: This Verification originally ran on April 1, 2022 as “Morbius” in the cinemas. It was edited and re-released in anticipation of the film’s recent premiere on Netflix, where it quickly entered the streamer’s top 10 list. Should you add it to your queue? Read on to find out.

It’s an accepted part of modern superhero filmmaking that the trailers are going to lie a bit. Saving CGI reveals or cutting down a major climactic fight is a sensible way to keep a sense of fun and surprise for later audiences. But the trailers for the Jared Leto-led superhero movie Morbius take it a step further. They imply that Michael Keaton’s Spider-Man: Homecoming character, Adrian Toomes, will play a major role throughout the film, when in reality he only appears in an entirely unrelated post-credits sequence.

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On its own, that’s just a hilariously brazen part of marketing manipulation. But it also reflects the general sense of desperation that hovers over the film, which from the off looks like it’s in full damage control mode. Whatever bit of originality may have originally motivated this project has been reduced to something vague (and vaguely tasty) designed to turn audiences on and off in under two hours.

Originally slated to premiere in July 2020 before the pandemic pushed it back, Morbius is reportedly Sony Pictures’ attempt to recapture the Spider-Man-bordering success of its gonzo franchise Venom. Instead, it feels as sloppy and formless as the symbiote itself.

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About ‘Morbius’: Interview with a Vampire

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dr Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) in MORBIUS from Columbia Pictures.

The catch with Morbius is that it mixes superhero and vampire tropes while Dr. Michael Morbius (Leto) sets out to cure his rare, debilitating blood disease, only to accidentally transform into a super-powered bat creature instead. Aside from the fact that the Wesley Snipes vehicle Blade offered that particular comic book combo back in the ’90s (as will Mahershala Ali’s forthcoming MCU reboot), Morbius has a steep hill to climb as it combines superheroes and vampires two of which are the most well-known genres of live-action pop culture.

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Whether your point of reference is Angel, Twilight, or The Vampire Diaries, Morbius’ crisis of conscience about drinking human blood will feel awfully familiar; just like its whole “reluctant hero” chick chick will feel like garden variety to anyone who’s ever seen a superhero movie. (Well everyone.) Because this is primarily a Hulk-style science tale gone wrong, “Morbius” misses some of the coolest parts of vampire history – like the idea of ​​living an immortal life across centuries of human history. Instead, we have just one man who decides to cure his blood disease by casually splicing human and bat DNA together; You know how to do it.

What’s left is a superhero origin story that never quite finds its center because it’s so choppy edited and narratively sluggish. There’s no driving plot or purposeful character study, just loads incident. The film clumsily rushes through its build to bring Morbius into his souped-up vampire state. But once it does, it seems to have no idea what to do with it.

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dr Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) in MORBIUS from Columbia Pictures.

It doesn’t help that, unlike Tom Hardy’s banana performance in Venom, Leto is a little boring as the film’s central antihero. After his larger-than-life supporting roles in 2016’s ‘Suicide Squad’ and 2021’s ‘House of Gucci’, Leto is trying hard to sell himself as a conventional, muscular movie star here. And while it’s not a bad performance per se (he instills an underlying sympathy with Morbius that’s must-see), the reluctance allows Leto to get a little lost in the jumble of all the vampire madness around him. It’s weird to see a character slurp up bags of blood and think, “Oh yeah, he seems like a nice, normal guy.”

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See ‘Morbius’ for: Matt Smith having fun

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Milo (Matt Smith) in Columbia Pictures’ MORBIUS.

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Instead, the standout twist comes from House of the Dragon star Matt Smith, who would love to remember he starred as Patrick Bateman in the West End musical version of American Psycho, thank you. Smith stylishly slips through the role of Milo, Morbius’ rich childhood best friend who suffers from the same blood disorder and has far fewer moral scruples when it comes to figuring out how to cure it.

As with Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise in Interview with the Vampire, there is an undercurrent of romantic longing in the brotherly bond between Milo and Morbius. And it feels like a better version of “Morbius” has brought its intricate dynamics even more to the fore. Unfortunately, “Morbius” is too tied to comic book film convention to become the overtly gay vampire superhero melodrama it probably should have been. Instead, Adria Arjona is there because Morbius needs a (female) love interest. Jared Harris is there because he needs a father figure. and Tyrese Gibson and Al Madrigal are there because these kinds of movies usually have cops in them, right?

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“Morbius” occasionally exhibits a dash of visual panache; those moments are useful enough, if hardly a reason to watch the film. Random bursts of stylized slow-motion are reminiscent of a The Matrix sequel or a Zack Snyder film, while Morbius’ vampire abilities are highlighted with plumes of colored smoke reminiscent of Nightcrawlers in the X-Men films.

In fact, Morbius often conjures up those forgotten X-Men movies of the last few days like Dark Phoenix or The New Mutants – movies that hardly seem to have existed. Harmless at best and ridiculous at worst, “Morbius” has no legs – or wings – to stand on. No wonder the followers had to fib.

Grade: C

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dr Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) in MORBIUS from Columbia Pictures.

Rated PG-13. 108 minutes. D: Daniel Espinosa. With: Jared Leto, MattSmithAdria Arjona, JaredHarris, Tyrese Gibson, Al Madrigal, Michael Keaton.

Make it a double feature with “The Venomous Avenger,” stream for free on Tubi

The Venomous Avenger (1984): This cult classic from genre titans Troma Entertainment follows a mild-mannered caretaker (“98 lbs. of solid nerd”) who becomes the all-powerful defender of his town after falling into a vat of toxic waste. A must for horror fans, movie buffs and toxic waste fans. Rated R. 82 minutes. To you: Michael heart and Lloyd Kaufman. Featuring: Andree Maranda, Mitch Cohen, Jennifer Babtist, Cindy Manion, Robert Prichard.

The Toxic Avenger streams free on Tubi Get the app

How to Watch Morbius

Morbius is streaming on Netflix for a limited time. Plans start at $9.99 per month; Higher tiers include better video quality and the ability to stream to multiple devices simultaneously. Morbius is also available to rent through places like Redbox, Apple TV, Vudu, and Amazon Prime Video.

About the author: Caroline Siede is a film and television critic in Chicago, where she doesn’t mind the cold anyway. A member of the Chicago Film Critics Association, she lovingly dissects the romantic comedy genre film by film in her ongoing column, When Romance Met Comedy at The AV Club. She is also the co-host of the film podcast, role calland shares her opinions on pop culture on Twitter (@carolinesiede).

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