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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim, Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

CineHawk: “Morbius”

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GRAPHIC: SADIE HENZES ’24/THE HAWK

The latest of Sony’s flailing attempts to create a superhero cinematic universe, “Morbius” brings the iconic Spider-Man villain to the big screen with negligible references to the Web-Slinger himself. Directed by Daniel Espinosa and written by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless, the film stars Jared Leto, Matt Smith, Adria Arjona, Jared Harris, Al Madrigal and Tyrese Gibson. “Morbius” is playing exclusively in theaters.

The film revolves around Michael Morbius, played by Leto, a Nobel Prize-winning scientist who is dying of a rare blood disease. Desperate for a cure, the good doctor creates a serum from the DNA of vampire bats and uses himself as the first test subject. 

Not only does it finally cleanse his sickness, but the serum also grants Dr. Morbius an array of superhuman abilities. Unfortunately, he is also cursed with an irresistible lust for blood. 

As Morbius struggles to cure his condition, he is aided by his fiancée, Martine Bancroft, played by Arjona, and pursued by FBI agents Simon Stroud and Alberto Rodriguez, played by Gibson and Madrigal, respectively. 

Much like the “Venom” films, with which this film shares a continuity, “Morbius” seems to eschew the more complex storytelling seen in contemporary superhero cinematic works such as “The Batman” and “Eternals” in favor of offering audiences mindless, disposable action schlock. If that was director Espinosa’s intention, then this bloodless vampire flick succeeded with flying colors. 

Leto’s performance aside, the only thing worth recommending about “Morbius” is the action sequences. The titular character’s vampiric powers are masterfully brought to life, especially when he goes up against his brother Milo, played by Smith. Morbius’ super-speed and agility are represented with a stylish trail of red smoke, explained to be a result of his echolocation abilities. 

Not only does this give the action scenes a unique visual flair, but it also gives the Living Vampire a supernatural aura that links him to previous cinematic nightwalkers. 

However, these impressive visuals are wasted on a 104-minute exercise in mediocrity. It is nothing short of a travesty that a film based on the mythology of “Spider-Man,” a comic book superhero with 60 years of history, could be so relentless in its insistence on offering even less than the bare minimum in terms of imagination. Whatever story the film may have had at the script stage was cut apart and haphazardly pieced together by amateurish studio-mandated editing. 

There is nothing interesting to say or to learn. The characters are simple tools, going through the same motions seen in a thousand other comic book movies. Any “arcs” present are just to get them in place for more mindless action scenes. 

While the cynical pursuit of profit is the undeniable driving force behind the current superhero craze, many of these are nonetheless able to at least offer a compelling experience that demonstrates the creative passion for these characters. 

It is gut-wrenchingly transparent that “Morbius” exists solely to sell another brand in an increasingly crowded genre — and based on its box office receipts, it could not even do that right.

RATING: 2/10

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