Sony’s morbius is ostensibly a spin-off of Spider-Man, but in many ways the Marvel movie has more in common with DC’s solemn the batter† Michael Morbius is a moody, Byronic scientist living in New York, with wealthy sponsors to fund his research into the rare blood disease from which he suffers. The answer may be lurking in the DNA of which animal? You guessed it, the bat.
After mixing bat DNA with human DNA, Morbius essentially becomes a man-made vampire and must struggle with his newfound bloodlust while protecting his loved ones. It’s a fairly simple setup, drawn from the pages of the comic books, which in turn were clearly influenced by everything from Dracula to Jekyll and Hyde, with the usual references to addiction in it. Leto brings enough intensity and humanity to the role to get involved, but he’s not helped by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless’s script that favors exposition over character development.
Adria Arjona is particularly badly served by her character Dr. Martine Bancroft – all we know is she’s smart and has a cat: a superhero movie that’s conveniently single. Her main task seems to be to have Morbius explain his science in a language that the public can understand. Tyrese Gibson plays a dutiful detective role, while as his colleague Al Madrigal provides the film’s first laugh – about 50 minutes into it.
The most fun you can have here is with Matt Smith’s Milo, Michael’s best friend who has the same ailment and has amassed considerable wealth and a taste for the good life. Smith throws himself into this enjoyable role. It’s good to see characters with chronic illnesses at the center of the story, and an opening flashback to their childhood portrays the scene well enough. But you can imagine a possible reaction from the disability community about the way their storylines are developing.
This movie isn’t terrible. Leto is good, the VFX work is slick and there is modest entertainment here and there. But it seems unlikely that it will please crowds like Spider-Man: No Way Home — and the mid-credits scenes are more mind-boggling than exciting.