Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Jared Leto, Matt Smith, Adria Arjona, Jared Harris, Al Madrigal, Tyrese Gibson, Michael Keaton
Written by: Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless
Directed by: Daniel Espinosa
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, some frightening images, and brief strong language
Running Time: 104
Date: 04/01/2022
IMDB

Morbius (2022)

1 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Bloody Dud

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

As flat and as uninspired as the Venom movies were, they at least tried to be humorous; this by-the-numbers comic book action movie — the latest in Sony's low-rent attempts at Marvel superhero movies — seems to be operating entirely on auto-pilot, ticking off plot boxes as it goes.

Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) suffers from a rare blood disease, and has spent his life looking for a cure. In the meantime, he has invented artificial blood that has saved countless lives. For a new experiment, he incorporates vampire bat blood. When he tests it on himself, the result is superhuman strength, speed, and other powers, but also an unquenchable thirst for blood. The artificial blood slows the cravings, but won't work forever.

Meanwhile, Michael's childhood friend Milo (Matt Smith), who has the same disease, wants to take the cure despite Michael's warnings. Then, a spate of killings sweeps the city, the victims drained of blood, and Michael is blamed. Can he set things right?

Even the actors seem to be sleeping through their lines in Morbius — not that there's anything worth hearing, anyway. What might have been deep discussions about life and death, good and evil, or power and weakness, are kept strictly on the surface, and solved without much bother or meaning. Moral implications are simply ignored. Action scenes are complicated by the strange decision to show vapor-trails following the characters as they leap, or are thrown, across buildings, alleys, and subways.

The choice makes everything smeary, like a cover-up for potentially underwhelming FX. (Occasionally the movie pauses for a nifty Matrix-like slo-mo shot, which helps clarify things.) While Leto and Smith have the lion's share of chunky-sounding dialogue, and while they try to keep hysterics to a minimum, it all comes off sounding more like reading than speaking.

The rest of the cast has so little to do that they're barely worth mentioning, even though Morbius has at least tried for a measure of diversity. (A patient of Morbius's, a young Black girl, is put into a life-saving coma, and then forgotten for the rest of the movie.) A "surprise" that comes at the end is hardly that, given that the actor in question was featured in trailers and in the film's credits. Its promise of more "Morbius" to come is less of a promise more of a warning.

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