Sony pictures released Morbius on April 1 for some unintended irony, holding the film for almost two years past its original release date in the hopes for a big box office result.  Academy Award winner Jared Leto was somehow convinced that a superhero vampire film was the right palate cleanser after his unfavorably reviewed performance as the Joker in David Ayer’s Suicide Squad.

Jared Leto plays Dr. Michael Morbius, a man who is suffering from a rare disease and finds a solution via a serum that contains a very specific sequence of vampire bat DNA. Morbius gains super powers such as strength, speed, and echolocation along with a need to feast on blood every six hours.  Morbius uses synthetic blood to satiate his hunger, but he’s dreading the point where he may not be able to resist feeding on humans.

Like Marvel’s Incredible Hulk, the Jekyll and Hyde concept in Morbius could be an engaging theme to explore, however director Daniel Espinosa fails to capitalize on it.  Screenwriters Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless hold a mirror up to Leto’s Dr. Morbius, having his child hood friend (Matt Smith) riddled with the same rare disease and funding most of Morbius’ research in the hopes of a normal, healthy life. Once Smith’s character finds out about Morbius’ successful treatment, he undergoes the treatment himself against Morbius’ wishes and without his knowledge.

Of course, it turns out that Smith’s character lacks any moral dilemma about feeding on humans, and he’s more than happy to terrorize the city. This sets up a vampire vs. vampire battle is set for the climax. It’s unfortunate that the action sequences are erratic and overcooked, and the finale is far from engaging.  Director Daniel Espinosa perhaps made those choices purposefully because the film’s CGI looks like something out of the early 2000s superhero fanfare.

Sony’s Morbius crowning achievement is that it serves as the first interconnected film between Disney Marvel (AKA The MCU) and Sony Marvel. Michael Keaton’s Adrian Toomes, established in the MCU, arrive in a jail cell in Morbius’ universe. However, Keaton’s cameo and post credit scene teasing a version of the Sinister Six isn’t enough to pull this film up to repeat viewing status.

Sony would be far better off relaunching both the Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire Spider-Man franchises and saving their villains for Web-fodder…. not full length feature spinoffs.

Letter Grade: D-

About The Author

Founder, Awards Editor

Byron Burton is the Awards Editor and Chief Critic at Awards Focus and a National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Award winning journalist for his work at The Hollywood Reporter.

Byron is a voting member of the Television Academy, Critics Choice Association, and the Society of Composers & Lyricists (the SCL) for his work on Marvel's X-Men Apocalypse (2016). Working as a journalist and moderator, Byron hosts Emmy and Oscar panels for the major studios, featuring their Below The Line and Above The Line nominees (in partnership with their respective guilds).

Moderating highlights include Ingle Dodd's "Behind the Slate" Screening Series and their "Spotlight Live" event at the American Legion in Hollywood. Byron covered the six person panel for Universal's "NOPE" as well as panels for Hulu's "Pam & Tommy Lee" and "Welcome to Chippendales" and HBO Max's "Barry" and "Euphoria."

For songwriters and composers, Byron is a frequent moderator for panels with the Society of Composers and Lyricists (SCL) as well as The ArcLight's Hitting the High Note Oscar series.

Byron's panels range from FX's Fargo to Netflix's The Crown, The Queen's Gambit, The Witcher & Bridgerton; HBO Max's The Flight Attendant, Hacks, Succession, Insecure, & Lovecraft Country; Amazon Studios' The Legend of Vox Machina, Wild Cat, & Annette; and Apple TV+s Ted Lasso, Bad Sisters, and 5 Days at Memorial.

In February of 2020, Byron organized and hosted the Aiding Australia Initiative; launched to assist in the restoration and rehabilitation of Australia's wildlife (an estimated 3 billion animals killed or maimed and a landmass the size of Syria decimated).

Participating talent for Aiding Australia includes Robert Downey Jr., Michael Keaton, Jeremy Renner, Harrison Ford, Jim Carrey, Josh Brolin, Bryan Cranston, Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, JK Simmons, Tobey Maguire, Alfred Molina, James Franco, Danny Elfman, Tim Burton, Kim Basinger, Robert Wuhl, Tim Allen, Colin Hay, Drew Struzan, and Michael Rosenbaum.

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