The Movie Waffler New to Netflix - MORBIUS | The Movie Waffler

New to Netflix - MORBIUS

New to Netflix - MORBIUS
A scientist inadvertently becomes a vampire.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Daniel Espinosa

Starring: Jared Leto, Matt Smith, Adria Arjona, Jared Harris, Al Madrigal, Tyrese Gibson

morbius poster

Much like Liberal Arts students, vampires are known for sleeping all day. Morbius gives the viewer an insight into life as a vampire, by which I mean I came very close to nodding off during my afternoon screening. 50 years ago vampire movies gave us lesbians who looked like Ingrid Pitt sinking their teeth into the throats of baron's daughters and upsetting conservative mores. Now we get Jared Leto moping around in a hoody as Hollywood attempts to drain every last drop of plasma out of Marvel's roster of characters.

In the comics, Morbius first appeared as one of Spider-Man's foes, but in the post-Anne Rice '90s he became a troubled anti-hero. In other words, he stopped being fun. He doesn't have much fun in director Daniel Espinosa's film either. This Morbius is very much a throwback to all those brooding vampire movies of the '90s – The Addiction, The Prophecy et al – but with an aesthetic heavily borrowed from Ted Nicolau's Subspecies series, sans the work of some talented Romanian cinematographers.

morbius review

In a prologue we see young Michael Morbius and young Milo become friends as they're stuck in a clinic with a rare affliction that leaves them partially paralysed. Michael is a scientific whiz, and is taken away to a special school in New York, growing up to become a Nobel winning scientist who improbably looks like Jared Leto with a bad fever. Milo grows up to be Matt Smith.

During experiments held in international waters aboard a cargo ship named the Murnau (that's as far as this movie comes to evoking German Expressionism), Morbius only goes and turns himself into a vampire after fiddling around with bats. Every few hours he needs to drink artificial blood to stop himself from turning into a bloodsucker and going after the real stuff, and so he sets about sciencing a solution while evading the authorities (which amounts to walking around in a hoody, a famous way of not attracting the attention of the police).

morbius review

Meanwhile his old mate Milo turns himself into a vampire too, leading the pair on a collision course. The big difference between the pair is that Milo enjoys being a vampire, prancing around in his powerful new body like Eddie Murphy in The Nutty Professor and hitting on other blokes' girlfriends.

These movies always have a female scientist love interest. Here she's played by Adria Arjona, who gets about as much to do as any of her 1950s predecessors. Such characters are always telling the stubborn hero not to mess around with bats, but they never listen. Didn't they learn anything from the Covid pandemic?

morbius review

Even those of us who are bored to tears by the never-ending superhero cavalcade can notice a distinct difference in work ethic between the Disney and Sony offerings. When Sony don’t have Mickey and Donald looking over their shoulder, as in the Tom Holland Spider-Man films, the resulting movies have a distinct whiff of "fuck it, it's five o'clock, it'll do" about them. Both the Venom movies felt like nobody bothered advancing beyond a first draft, and that's the same feeling we get here. Everything about Morbius is half-assed, from the thinly sketched characters (I honestly couldn't figure out why we were supposed to view Milo as more villainous than Morbius) to CG sequences that resemble Playstation 2 era cut-scenes. Even Leto, who famously immerses himself in roles in a manner that would make Hoffman and De Niro feel lazy, doesn't seem all that bothered here.

Morbius links into the Sony slice of the MCU, the one that houses Spider-Man, which means we get the obligatory hint at things to come courtesy of an end credits cameo by an actor that the movie could have really used throughout to liven things up. Maybe Spidey and Morbius are set for a smackdown in the near future. When that bout occurs, I'll have to watch it for professional reasons. What will your excuse be?

 is on Netflix UK/ROI now.