Its rare to see a big budget studio funded superhero film be universally reviled and mocked upon release but Sonys latest Spider Man adjacent mess Morbius has proved to be a special case. Sitting at an abysmal 16% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes and a Metacritic score of 35 the film has served as a punching bag for critics who are growing impatient toward bland and derivative superhero films. However there is a segment of viewers who seem to feel differently as the film also sports a 70% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes and a 6.4 user average on Metacritic. Clearly there is an audience for Morbius one that is getting something of value out of it.
Whatever that something is they must be looking really really hard to find it. Directed by Daniel Espinosa Morbius is the embodiment of everything wrong with modern Hollywood blockbuster film making a boring and predictable plot one dimensional characters lame dialogue and poorly implemented special effects. Its enough to turn anyone who sees it into a vampire thirsting for the blood of the Sony higher ups that green lit it. Outside a few well executed shots Espinosa is mostly a non factor as a director. Or in the case of the nonsensical action scenes he actively damages the film.
Considering that action is the primary source of entertainment in these kinds of films its shocking that a film of this budget would be released with fights this poorly choreographed shot and edited. The terrible CGI does not help either. A weird mist follows the characters when theyre in vampire mode adding to the clutter of already way too busy frames. The vampires themselves are terribly designed and look awful bordering on bad Snap chat filters. The effects team were clearly aiming for edgy or scary but they just came out silly and not in an endearing way.
Also not endearing is Jared Letos Dr. Michael Morbius one of the least interesting protagonists in any superhero film of the past decade. Leto has given some memorable performances in the past but none of his talents shine through here. He plays everything so straight that any attempts at humor fall flat and kill the potential for relatability sympathy or moral ambiguity. While the equally cringy Venom films also sport some bad humor at least those films do not take themselves too seriously or try to earn any kind of emotional potency. By contrast Morbius attempts to force romance between Leto and Adria Arjonas Martine Bancroft and the lack of chemistry is palpable. While Arjona is responsible for the films few sparks of warmth it makes no sense for her character to couple up with Leto even if the film insists that it does.
A similar misuse occurs with Matt Smith playing the films primary antagonist Milo Morbius. Like Leto Smith has proven himself capable in the past but he just isnt an intimidating enough presence to work as a villain and his motivations as a character border on nonsensical. Smith is actually able to tease out a few laughs most of them accidental if his demented screams of Michael! during what are supposed to be tense moments dont elicit a chuckle nothing will. Even with all that said the films greatest failure is being dreadfully boring. Nothing of interest happens and by the time the credits are rolling it feels like a long elaborate trailer playing before a hopefully worthwhile film begins.
Being released in such close proximity to The Batman a film that managed its tonal juggling act much better while staying engaging for nearly twice the length certainly makes Morbius flaws stick out more but also highlights just how derivative it is. In the past years films The Suicide Squad has better humor ShangChi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has better action and SpiderMan No Way Home has stronger emotional stakes. By contrast Morbius fails to be good at anything in particular while not even amounting to more than the sum of its parts. Compared to some of the best films in its genre to have released in the past few years Morbius seems determined to stick out as little as possible reducing its potentially interesting material to borderline Bmovie levels. If this character and film indicates the future of Sonys Spider Man cinematic universe it could be a rough few years.