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Morbius Brings Simplicity Back to CBM Storytelling

Director: Daniel Espinosa
Screenwriters: Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless
Starring: Jared Leto, Adria Arjona, Emil Nikols, Matt Smith, and Tyrese Gibson
Cinematographer: Oliver Wood

After Spider-Man: No Way Home, the possibilities for side stories, else-world spinoffs, and crossovers are endless. Michael Morbius, who made his debut in Marvel Comics over 50 years ago has now joined those conversations. Sony’s new shared universe of films will debut the “Living Vampire” Morbius in theaters April 1, 2022.

The story follows Dr. Michael Morbius, a biologist and biochemist who suffers from a rare blood disorder. Determined to save himself and others with the same terminal fate, he undertakes extreme measures to create a miracle that would make him worthy of his Nobel Prize nomination. An uncommon success at first glance, Dr. Morbius is ready to show the world his findings. But when the darkness inside him makes an abruptly gruesome appearance, Michael must fight his new urges to maintain his oath of saving lives instead of taking them.

Courtesy of Sony Pictures

Daniel Espinosa’s Morbius is the kind of comic book film I’ve been waiting to resurface for quite some time. In the age of multiverses and reality alterations, simplicity has never looked so bright. There’s no flamboyance or overcomplication to Sharpless and Sazama’s script. Instead, the fine pacing, effortless narrative, and well-calculated action sequences make for a fun watch that isn’t too tiresome or overbearing. As a result, the feature feels like a refreshing revival of the comic book movie genre.

There are several moments in Espinosa’s husky dark feature in which the strong-willed Dr. Morbius forces himself to fight his blood-thirsty impulses. Wanting to hold steady on his pledge to save lives, Michael does everything he can to commit to his promises. Even if that means temporarily surrendering to the will of his transgenic vampirism, Michael’s humanity wills him through his dark desires to set things right again. This inner turmoil is a straightforward narrative we’ve all seen before, but it works—especially due to Leto’s restrained yet refined commitment towards inner turmoil that is manifested by his physical performance. It’s like this character was created for him to play.

This concept of willing himself back to humanity is just one of the many things I enjoyed about Morbius. But the team behind this anti-hero’s origin story achieved some great storytelling with respect to the creation of the “living vampire” as well. Without tapping into spoiler territory, I’ll just say the “scientific explanations” and showcase of experimentations were perfect. It’s often annoying [as a viewer and a scientist] for films to give me the “just because” explanation. So, this was certainly a welcomed addition.

Courtesy of Sony Pictures

There are many things to be excited about walking into Morbius, but the film is not without its problems. Often suffering from lighting issues—presumably because of CGI weak points—it’s hard to see what would typically excite me as a horror fan: gore. I would have loved to see them push the boundaries on this, especially with the story centering on vampirism. But the PG-13 rating could certainly be the culprit for this, though.

Ultimately, Morbius was a fun time for me. The film won’t be for a lot of people considering how certain comic book movies have conditioned us to conceptualize the genre as viewers. But for me, Espinosa created an enjoyable watching experience with a simple and compelling narrative that I will always get behind.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Check out the trailer for Sony Pictures’ Morbius — in theaters April 1, 2022

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