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Michael Morbius is anything but mild-mannered. He is a biochemist and Nobel Prize worthy egomaniac determined to achieve greatness no matter the cost. He is also plagued with a rare blood disease that cripples his every move, every thought, and every action. It’s this disease that ends up shaping the way Dr. Morbius sees the world and clouds his judgment when he finally discovers a cure for what ails him.

“Morbius” is the newest addition to what audiences have started calling the Sony Spider-Man Universe. It is an introduction to a character that breeds life into an antihero, much like the SSMU’s 2021 film, “Venom: Let There Be Carnage.” However, in this newest Marvel journey, we have a main character who completely lacks charisma, common sense, and ethics.

We meet Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) early on in Costa Rica, where the cane-wielding protagonist cuts his hand to bleed open, attracting bats from a cave like Marvel’s version of Bruce Wayne. Yet, we quickly discover, this man is no Dark Knight. He is experimenting with new treatments in an attempt to cure his disease, as well as the blood disease of his childhood friend, Milo (Matt Smith). They have always had a pact between them: “Like the original Spartans, we are the few against the many.” This is a quote often repeated throughout the film, although it strikes many meanings towards the climax.

After many failed trials, Dr. Morbius finally finds a way to cure himself, leading to side effects of vampiric proportions. During an experiment on a ship in international waters, an incident occurs that leaves several men dead and Dr. Morbius on the run. After becoming a living vampire, Morbius feeds off of synthetic blood in an effort to delay the inevitable: having to feed off of human blood for survival. His disease may be cured now, but his urge for human blood grows stronger by the minute, as he goes from barely walking to superhuman strength and powers beyond his control. He feels a kinship with bats and perfects his echolocation, otherwise known as bat radar. When he is finally detained and questioned by detectives about the ill-fated ship, Morbius exclaims, “I’m starting to get hungry, you wouldn’t like me when I’m hungry.” This is an obvious nod to Marvel’s Hulk, but it falls flat in this film.

While Morbius comes to the realization that his new existence will prove to be tumultuous in the end, Milo suddenly discovers a new lease on life by injecting the same serum to cure his disease. Angry and confused as to why Morbius would have kept this “cure” all to himself, Milo becomes his ultimate competitor in a world that would have been better off if neither of them existed. In this instance, Milo is almost literally biting the hand that feeds him.

It’s not that “Morbius” is bad, but that it is SO bad that it’s almost unwatchable. Matt Smith is a waste of great talent in a role that sees him go from practically paralyzed to supervillain in a matter of seconds. You would’ve thought that Jared Leto learned his lesson from the negative reviews his Joker received from “Suicide Squad,” yet here he is again hamming it up for cameras where not even his shirtless scenes can deflect from bad writing. There is a severe lack of female performers, so much so that actress Adria Arjona playing Martine (aka Morbius’s girlfriend?) has to pick up the slack for all female representation in a big budget film that claims to be a bridge between Spider-Man and the multiverse. We have two post-credit scenes that help to build that bridge for audiences, but they have absolutely nothing to do with the 1 hour and 44 minutes of dreck that came before it.

In the end, we witness a mediocre duel between Morbius and Milo, where bats are summoned and Martine gets caught in the mix. It’s anticlimactic at best. It would have been much better if the filmmakers made a 7-minute version of the post-credit scenes, uploaded them to Disney+, and called it a day.

The SSMU would have been saved.

Ticket rating: 🎟1/2


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