Directed by: Daniel Espinosa
Distributed by: Sony Pictures
Written by Alexander Reams
The art of cinema is divisive, it always has been, but there are a select few films that cinema culture universally agrees are staples in the pantheons of great cinema, from the classics like “Citizen Kane” and “The Godfather” to more modern fare like “Parasite” and “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”, these films are universally acclaimed, or as close as a film can come. Then there is the wall of shame, a wall that holds films that have a notorious reputation for one reason or another, in the marketing for “Morbius”, or as I call it “Jared Leto’s latest excuse to find a new level of weird”, it looked like we would have a new film joining the wall of shame, so expectations going into it were mixed, excitement to see a personal favorite comic book character, and dread that this could kill the character’s future chances to be in films. Unfortunately, the lattermost fears came to pass in this fledgling and neutralized adaptation of a character that is truly “cool” in the comics but is watered down to a visually interesting yet disappointing adaptation.
Stuck in development hell for almost 20 years, then all of a sudden Jared Leto of all people became interested, unlike most actors who win an Oscar, he cashed in with a string of misfires and is now notorious for being a “method actor” but instead of it yielding good films, they’ve been on a sliding scale of meh to horrendous. In the last decade, he’s turned his gaze to comic book films and has now bastardized those. I will give credit where credit is due, and Leto is not at fault for how his character was written, he is trying and delivers a serviceable performance, but it doesn’t negate the writing that is even more nonsensical than “Venom”. Even if he shouldn’t be blamed he will be. The highest praise I can give this film is the aforementioned visually interesting action sequences, and you can tell that director Daniel Espinosa had control over those sequences, but everything else reeks of studio interference, and this shouldn’t be surprising. When Amy Pascal is involved say goodbye to creative freedom.
It’s perhaps most notable during the scenes with Matt Smith as “Milo Morbius”, who was originally supposed to be “Hunger” but for some reason, his character was changed (i.e. “Some Reason” means studio interference). Smith is clearly trying to chew the scenery as much as he could but his writing is borderline meme-worthy. Along with Smith and Leto is Adra Arjona as the bland and forgettable Martine Bancroft. Tyrese Gibson has a role that he actually seems to care for, FBI Agent Simon Stroud, who has a hi-tech arm, but we would never know, because it is never said, or used. “Morbius” is a film that is constantly fighting, not on screen but a fight for Espinosa’s film, not Sony’s, and unfortunately leads to an uneven mess that not only disappointed me but consistently frustrated me.
“Morbius” is in wide theatrical release.