• Jeff Beck

Morbius: A Toothless Vampire Flick with Poor Execution (Blu-ray)


The Film:


For quite a while now, Sony Pictures has been enjoying raking in quite a lot of money through the "Spider-Man" franchise, especially when it comes to the more recent films that are officially a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In an effort to expand on that foothold, they've also ventured into making films featuring the popular character "Venom," both of which also made a tidy sum, despite rather poor reviews. Now they look to expand again by exploring a lesser-known character known as "Morbius," aka "The Living Vampire," a noted enemy of Spider-Man and vampire hunter Blade. Would this further building of their "Spider-Man Universe" result in another smash hit, or would it prove to be the one that finally takes it too far?


Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) and Lucien (aka Milo) (Matt Smith) first met as boys at a hospital in Greece, under the care of Dr. Emil Nicholas (Jared Harris). Years later, Morbius becomes a doctor and devotes his life to finding a cure for the rare blood disease that both he and Lucien suffer from. His latest attempt involves splicing the genes of vampire bats into his own, and while the cure does end up being successful, even giving him superhuman powers in the process, it has the nasty side effect of turning him into a vampire with a lust for blood. With two FBI agents on his trail for the deaths he caused during the experiment, and a growing need to feed on real blood (as opposed to his own synthetic creation), Morbius' problems only become worse when his old friend Lucien takes the cure himself, leading to a radical change in his personality.


"Morbius" is one of those ideas that sounds like it should've worked pretty well, but obviously that would depend entirely upon the writers' ability to execute the idea in a manner that would be both compelling and entertaining. Unfortunately for this adaptation, it would appear that screenwriters Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless were simply not up to the task of bringing this intriguing character to the big screen. From early on, the film struggles to find an engaging plot, depending on Morbius' transformation and subsequent lust for blood to carry the weight. Then, when they finally add a somewhat interesting plot element in the middle, it oddly ends up getting ignored until almost the very end of the film, ultimately turning it into a kind of waiting game as you patiently anticipate further development.


Not helping the situation are the special effects that were clearly done by the lowest bidder, leading to rather silly-looking superpowers, fights, and creature designs. This is only compounded by curiously flat characters, and an unfortunately subdued lead performance from Oscar winner Jared Leto. Not that he had a whole lot to work with here, but even "Doctor Who" alumnus Matt Smith and the great Jared Harris were able to imbue their characters with a little personality with what little they were given.


Again, this was certainly an idea that had some potential. It's just a shame that nearly every element that the filmmakers threw into it didn't work. Because of this, it feels as though the film simply never comes to life, settling for being an oddball collection of bland characters adrift in a film that's desperately in search of a more compelling plot. Given the film's mid-credit scenes, it seems clear that the original plan was to make a sequel, but now that future remains cloudy. One thing's for sure, if Sony should gamble on a sequel, it will need to be under far better quality control than this initial outing was, or else it seems inevitable that it will succumb to the exact same problems, and sadly leave the character's potential untapped.


Video/Audio:


"Morbius" comes to Blu-ray in a 2.39:1, 1080p High Definition transfer of outstanding quality. This is another one of those films that's extremely dark during most of its runtime, but the image remains perfectly sharp and clear throughout. Likewise, the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track presents the dialogue, sound effects, and score in excellent quality, ultimately giving you the best possible experience in both areas.


Special Features:


Outtakes & Bloopers (3 Minutes)

Light, Camera, Action (5 Minutes)

Defining the Anti-Hero (5 Minutes)

Doing the Stuntwork (5 Minutes)

The Good, Bad & Ugly - Supporting Cast (4 Minutes)

Nocturnal Easter Eggs (2 Minutes)

From Human to Vampire: Visual Effects (5 Minutes)


The extras include a selection of brief featurettes that mainly focus on the making of the film, including the stuntwork, visual effects, and a general look behind the scenes.


Conclusion:


"Morbius" had the potential to be a rather exciting entry in Sony's expanding "Spider-Man Universe," but sadly just about every element of the film ends up dragging it down, including a screenplay in search of a more compelling plot, a multitude of bland characters, cheap-looking special effects, and a very subdued lead performance from Jared Leto. The film's execution was simply mismanaged, ultimately leading to a film where the nicest thing that can be said is that at least its runtime is relatively brief.


Score: 2/5


Available on Blu-ray starting Tuesday.


Follow me on Twitter @BeckFilmCritic.


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