When you run out of heroes, why not try the villain instead? This seems to be the big new strategy from Marvel and its associates – which have made millions out of Tom Hardy’s creepy Venom, and nice-but-nasty Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston. This time around, Jared Leto plays Sony’s MCU-adjacent super-vampire Michael Morbius, but fails to make the same impression.
Morbius is a brilliant doctor living in New York who is struggling with a terminal blood disorder. He finds it difficult to walk, but has dedicated his life to finding a remedy for the disease. Early on in the film, he is awarded a Nobel Prize but is so damn humble that he turns it down. His backstory reveals he grew up in a child sanatorium and was bullied by local kids before saving the life of young Milo (Matt Smith) who becomes his best pal and surrogate brother.
Eventually, Morbius conducts an illegal experiment on a ship off Long Island. He’s joined there by fellow doctor Martine Bancroft (Adria Arjona) who is notionally his love interest, though this relationship is barely developed. Together they use the blood of vampire bats to create a cure for his illness, but it has the happy side effect of turning him into a musclebound, powerful superhero – albeit one with an unslakeable thirst for human blood. In a rage, he kills a bunch of mercenaries on board the ship and word gets out that Morbius has broken bad.
If the plot sounds slight, that’s because it is. None of the characters have meaningful motives – and they’re so thinly drawn that they’re almost transparent. Astoundingly, for a film about a mad doctor who turns into a vampire, it’s also very boring. Horror fans attracted by the sinister promo campaign will be disappointed. You’ll see more claret in your local off-licence. All this could be excused if there were a few jokes to pass the time or some stylishly shot sequences. Instead, what we end up with is drab, flat and humourless. Leto was unfairly maligned for his exuberant, ridiculous performance as Paolo in House of Gucci but that at least had life and energy. Morbius is dead on arrival.
- Director: Daniel Espinosa
- Starring: Jared Leto, Matt Smith, Adria Arjona
- Release date: March 31