Although Morbius starts out as an interesting combination of the superhero and horror genres, it quickly turns into a lackluster basic film.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Morbius, which is currently playing in theaters.
Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) is presented as a ridiculously large human being, with the film making him increasingly monstrous. But while the film ultimately uses this as an excuse to give him over-the-top superpowers, the beginning of the film actually tackled the concept in an interesting way.
Morbius had the potential to be a genuinely engaging horror-tinged take on the superhero genre, with the first act setting up an interesting idea behind Morbius’ transformation into a monster. But the final direction of the film makes for a scrappy finished product.
The first act of Morbius effectively sets up the perfect but tragic Michael Morbius – a brilliant and empathetic doctor who races against time to discover a cure for the disease that is killing him, his best friend Milo (Matt Smith) and others around the world. This leads him to try an experimental serum that saves his life and even gives him incredible abilities, at the cost of turning him into a monstrous vampiric form. The first time his powers activate, Morbius proceeds to slaughter eight people in a single rampage. The sequence is filmed like a horror movie, with the eight men growing increasingly terrified as they get caught. It’s a brutal sequence and – complete with a moment of a mutated Milo stalking a nurse – hints at the film genre. Morbius could have been.
There’s something inherently creepy about Morbius as a character. He is the ultimate example of the devastation wrought by science, killing by necessity. Morbius himself often treats his new abilities as a curse and openly notes his intentions to eventually destroy himself by administering a deadly serum cure. If the film had explored more of the moral ambiguity of Morbius – a good man becoming a monster – it might have been an interesting take on the superhero formula. Instead of becoming a hero, Morbius turning into a regrettable killer instead of a straight anti-hero or villain would at least have been interesting, and Daniel Espinosa’s direction is the most exciting in these times – views somewhat grounded in how horrifying someone like Morbius could be. to be.
But the film’s script goes all over the place, trying to erase Morbius’ crimes in the second act. The eight men he kills in his first rampage are dismissed as “mercenaries” that even the authorities don’t care enough to press charges against Morbius. It’s a bizarre incongruity, especially since Morbius himself admits his own guilt over the deaths while everyone else ignores them and instead focuses on a single “innocent” death seemingly at the hands of Morbius. As Morbius goes on the run, the clashing morality is replaced by flippant jokes that seemed more befitting of a Spider-Man movie, all reaching an almost incomprehensible climax. Indeed, the part of the film that was really interesting disappears after the halfway point.
Morbius had real potential as a horror-tinged take on the superhero genre. Superhero tales are full of characters transformed by science, using their powers for good – with Matt Smith’s increasingly unhinged yet emotionally invested Milo potentially even giving the film added depth as a subversion of characters. who embrace their newfound powers. But focusing on someone who quickly and genuinely loses control of those powers would have made for a particularly tragic take on the concept’s tropes. In place, Morbius painfully shifts gears into a much more standard and ultimately lackluster action flick. It’s a waste, because Morbius could have been something interesting had it remained a dark exploration of morality and humanity.
Directed by Daniel Espinosa, Morbius is currently in theaters.
KEEP READING: CBR’s Morbius Guide: News, Easter Eggs, Reviews, Theories & Rumors
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