In an open-minded sense, it was tricky to watch Morbius after the unavoidable unenthusiastic response to its cinematic release. However, and stick with me, it’s been a while since then and much like Jurassic World Dominion, I waited for a bit and let that anti-hype die down and enjoyed the escapism for what it was. Sure, it’s lacking a wider depth, and it finishes all a bit too suddenly (much like the first Venom), but there’s snippets of interesting work between the layers of the soundwaves that deserves mentioning.
In Morbius, Jared Leto plays Dr Michael Morbius, who’s supersmart but suffers with a rare blood disorder which impacts his life in various troublesome ways, including his ability to walk and a general breakdown of his body over the years of suffering with it. He’s not alone in his pain though, as there’s also Milo, played by Matt Smith (having a wonderful time throughout), who also needs the clever work of Morbius to survive, due to his own blood disorder issues.
One day, our lead Doctor takes a gamble, that of merging vampire bat blood with human blood, because this specific bat contains a coagulant that would help them solve their problem. After testing it on a mouse, it works and so Morbius tests it out himself. It does do something positive but it also turns him into a super-fast, super-powered man-o-vampire-bat who likes to quickly kill people and suck all the blood from their body. As they do. So while this solves his illness, it also turns him into a slightly wild killing machine BUT Leto’s character learns to control it a little, through various old-school Casio stopwatch use, and during this time his mate Milo (Smith) steals it for himself as well, but decides that he’ll just kill people, create chaos in the dark and live however he wants to.
Now, the more I delve in, the more I’m disappointed by the huge lack of character development outside of our lead Leto. Not only does Morbius feel like a perfect idea for a longer TV series, but the film version also feels hacked to death in the editing suite. Because of this, we get early half stories of friendship but as the movie moves on, we don’t really know why Milo is always angry, or wanting to kill any love in the life of mate; we don’t learn the proper place of Jared Harris’ Dr. Emil Nicholas in both the boys lives (but he’s excellent when onscreen); nor do we know much about the deeper bond between Adria Arjona’s Martine Bancroft and Morbius, even though she’s actually pretty decent as well.
Currently, and after the influence of the likes of Christopher Nolan and Marvel, most audiences want more depth in their characters. I feel like this could have worked on a slower, more down-to-earth level, especially as the key fight throughout the film is between two old friends with a whole lot of history. In a ‘superhero’ 90s era, they could have got away with this but today we want more balance in the storytelling and here, through either editing or just a lack of a wider idea, it’s a bit surface-level.
However, there were things I really liked. Matt Smith brings certain scenes to alive, he’s full of energy and his initial adult relationship with Morbius feels real, but the film throws it away a bit too quickly. Also, when we have an early flashback, the kid playing Dr Michael looks like Paul Dano – so I wanted him and Smith really. I don’t always feel the impact of Jared Leto, he’s prone to over-dramatizing, but he’s good enough here with a true sense of confliction and eagerness to make right from what went wrong.
I thought the visual representation of speed, echolocation and the movement of light within fight and chase sequences was absolutely excellent thought. They offer us a wonderful ripple effect, and so Visual Effects Supervisor, Matthew E. Butler and his team, did a fascinating job of animating and bringing something innovative to those moments but, a tip for all filmmakers, don’t do the cheesy slow-mo and make it so obvious, just slow it down in a more inventive way. I’d also have welcomed more practical effects for Batmorbiusvampireman!
Keep an eye and ear out for a whole host of The Lost Boys borrowing, and it’s difficult to hear someone whisper ‘Miiichael’ in the wind and not hear Kiefer Sutherland, and then it all concludes a little quickly, much like Sony’s Venom did as well but that film certainly trumps this one. Go in, don’t expect too much but enjoy the good moments for what they are: escapism without too much depth.
The Extras lack but maybe that reflects the filmmaking process. Rightfully, no-one is cruel here but when all the featurettes are ‘they’re a proper actors’ director’ or similar, you wonder if it wasn’t quite what they’d thought it would be.
You get outtakes, head behind the scenes to an obvious London Underground location – which was supposed to be NYC – and hear from Stunt Director, Gary Powell, who tries his absolute best to make the fight sequences as fun as they can be. We do see that Matt Smith gets involved here, but not so much of Leto, and the commitment that Smith gave to the production.
Overall, the extras aren’t that thrilling, the Easter Eggs one is an empty box, and there’s nothing too deep to explore. I’m also not a fan of them repeatedly saying ‘we’re making this feel as ‘real’ as we can’, because it’s just not necessary in this context. I also struggled not seeing Fred Armisen in the director Daniel Espinosa, which was oddly distracted, but in an amusing way!