Morbius First Reviews: Jared Leto Does His Best to Lift a Story That Never Takes Flight

Critics say Sony's latest Spidey-adjacent flick attempts to blend horror with superhero thrills but feels too familiar and takes itself too seriously.

by | March 31, 2022 | Comments

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Following the blockbuster success of Venom and its sequel, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, the Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters continues with Morbius, based on the popular comic book character. Jared Leto stars as the titular character, a scientist who becomes a “living vampire” with superhuman abilities. Similar to the first two installments of the Spider-Man-adjacent franchise, this movie is receiving mostly negative reviews, but among them are acknowledgements that fans will find something to enjoy here as well.

Here’s what critics are saying about Morbius:

What does Morbius get right about superhero movies?

This genuine sense of entertainment has been missing from the superhero genre and it is refreshing to see a franchise so accepting of it. – Carson Timar, Buttered Popcorn

It’s how the new film handles the superhero cliches that makes it a success…[director Daniel Espinosa] can’t be praised enough for the result. – Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

But does it still feel too familiar?

Morbius isn’t doing anything you haven’t already seen executed better. – Spencer Perry,

Morbius recycles so many familiar vampire clichés and action battle scenes, viewers will feel like they’ve already seen the movie before it even ends. – Carla Hay, Culture Mix

A Hot Topic variation on a movie we’ve already seen done better and, maybe, worse. – David Crow, Den of Geek

Espinosa’s adaptation of the Marvel comic is heavily weighed down by exposition, logistical nonsense and generic conflicts that barely allow anything original to rise to the surface. – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

[It’s] a surprisingly limp and formulaic origin flick. – Nicola Austin, We Have a Hulk

Jared Leto in Morbius (2022)

(Photo by ©Sony Pictures Releasing)

Will fans of Venom enjoy it?

Morbius is similar to the Venom films. More modest in scale than anything in the MCU, this is light, fast-paced superhero action. – Chris Bumbray, JoBlo’s Movie Network

Morbius might be marginally better than that lot, including Venom 2, if only for not being quite so visually garish. – David Crow, Den of Geek

There is none of Venom’s creaky snark here. Morbius has a seriousness of intent, and is all the more engaging for it. – Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

It’s fair to draw similarities with Venom. However, Morbius lacks all charm and devotion to its main character. – Emma Kiely, Collider

[It] often seems a lot like a boilerplate Venom installment, without the humor. – David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

[It’s] Venom without Venom. – Jesse Hassenger, Paste Magazine

Is it any better if you’re not a diehard Marvel fan?

You don’t have to be a Marvel maven to understand and enjoy Morbius — in fact, it’s probably better if you aren’t. – Staci Layne Wilson, Women in Horror

Perhaps the biggest thing the movie has going for it are its MCU connections… However, these connections are rather minimal and quite puzzling. – Molly Freeman, Screen Rant

Does it feel like counter-programming to The Batman?

Instead of making a bloated, self-important atrocity like the nearly three-hour-long The Batman, [Espinosa] actually chose to make a good movie. – Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

The cinematography gives this a bright, colorful look that’s a far cry from the more noirish approach of something like The Batman. – Chris Bumbray, JoBlo’s Movie Network

It’s jarring to watch the digital effects-heavy Morbius so soon after Greig Fraser’s stunning cinematography in The Batman since the former becomes another blurry post-production eyesore. – Matt Donato, IGN Movies

Jared Leto in Morbius (2022)

(Photo by ©Sony Pictures Releasing)

Will it satisfy horror fans?

Morbius works better as a horror movie than as a vampire superhero origin story. – Carla Hay, Culture Mix

This horror-action picture offers modest genre pleasures and a consistently spooky vibe… Morbius revels in its scary, suspenseful atmosphere. – Tim Grierson, Screen International

There is something strangely sophisticated about the milieu of Morbius, its sad fancy boys pouring their resources into a mad bid to gain mastery over their fate. It’s almost Mary Shelley. – Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

There’s a moment where Morbius slashes someone’s throat open and blood spatters on the camera lens that elicited a sensible chuckle from yours truly. – Spencer Perry,

Espinosa approaches this bat-man’s beginnings with horror flourishes… but they’re never pronounced enough that they’ll satisfy horror audiences. – Matt Donato, IGN Movies

Morbius is unfortunately too concerned with remaining a superhero movie to go full-on horror. – Molly Freeman, Screen Rant

How is the action?

The action sequences in Morbius liven up an otherwise dull storyline that lacks originality. – Carla Hay, Culture Mix

The final battle is a sight to behold. – Josh Wilding,

Cinematographer Oliver Wood certainly is trying something with the action, but nothing about the visuals clicks. – Joey Magidson, Awards Radar

If the action sequences feel numbingly generic, at least they’re not noisy or assaultive. – Stephanie Zacharek, TIME

Action is at a minimum, especially unforgivable when you consider Tyrese Gibson co-stars as a cop with a friggin’ hi-tech arm. – Travis Hopson, Punch Drunk Critics

Action set pieces fall flat and fail to set Morbius apart from the host of other superhero movies that already exist. – Molly Freeman, Screen Rant

Jared Leto in Morbius (2022)

(Photo by ©Sony Pictures Releasing)

What about Jared Leto’s performance?

Leto’s portrayal as the blood-sucking antihero holds the film together. – John Nguyen, Nerd Reactor

[He] hits the right notes of fear and longing in a surprisingly restrained performance. – Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly

By his quirky standards, Morbius represents a relatively restrained turn. That said, the actor clearly savors Michael’s eccentric sense of humor and gloomy temperament. – Tim Grierson, Screen International

Leto is a divisive figure, but I think he’ll win over a lot of people here. At times he’s even low-key. – Chris Bumbray, JoBlo’s Movie Network

The great appeal of Leto’s performance is that he doesn’t play Morbius as the usual solipsistic superhero. – Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

Both entertaining and moving… One of his stronger recent efforts. – Carson Timar, Buttered Popcorn

He’s barely even trying. For all the faults you can pin on something like House of Gucci or Suicide Squad, at least Leto was doing something with those roles. – Spencer Perry,

How is Matt Smith as the villain?

A better villain than we often get from the CGI content factories; he gives Morbius something like literary stakes. – Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

Smith does so bloody good playing bad, to the point where everything almost becomes one notch above bearable. – Matt Donato, IGN Movies

Smith… has a perfectly evil dance number that comes out of nowhere and is the film’s one actual highlight. – Travis Hopson, Punch Drunk Critics

Smith becomes the standout in Morbius, though that isn’t saying much since Milo is still a run-of-the-mill villain. – Molly Freeman, Screen Rant

With echoes of the worst cinematic version of the Green Goblin… [he’s] a poor little rich kid caricature who just does things so there can be a paper villain to knock down in Act Three. – David Crow, Den of Geek

Not only is his villain awful… but there’s really nothing good to say about his performance in Morbius. – Josh Wilding,

Matt Smith in Morbius (2022)

(Photo by Jay Maidment /©Sony Pictures Releasing)

Does Morbius have a script problem?

The central problem of Morbius is a lazy and uninspiring script. No weight or depth is given to any character. – Emma Kiely, Collider

Morbius is a movie in which it’s clear that no one ever sent the script back for a rewrite with the instructions, ‘Please add a script.’ – Owen Gleiberman, Variety

Screenwriters Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless task the audience with too much hoop jumping when it comes to its multitude of weak spots and confusing logistical applications. – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

Where Sazama and Sharpless’s script struggles is in the character development. – Molly Freeman, Screen Rant

Burk Sharpless and Matt Sazama’s script… is a skillful mix of elements from The Fly, Dracula and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. – Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

What if audiences just want a good time at the movies?

At its best, Morbius keeps the audience riveted, wondering what will happen next. – Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

The best thing one can say about Morbius is simply how fun it is… immensely watchable and entertaining. – Carson Timar, ButteredPopcorn

The movie, with its canny mix of whiz-bang violence, goth atmosphere, and high camp, feels pleasingly pulpy and urgent up until its last minutes. – Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly

The curious fun of Daniel Espinosa’s film is in how it embraces the gothic mythology that inspired it. Morbius… is a stylish, intriguingly toned story of a man trying to thwart mortality. – Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

[It] promotes Morbius’ moral conundrum as a self-conscious vampire over anything considered ‘superhero cinema fun,’ taking everything deathly serious to an ultimate detriment. – Matt Donato, IGN Movies

Jared Leto in Morbius (2022)

(Photo by ©Sony Pictures Releasing)

Will we want more Morbius in the end?

I would, much to my shock, head back into the murk with the doctor and friends again. – Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

Morbius is so focused on building Sony’s Spider-Man Universe and hopeful sequels — which could very well be better now that the foundation exists. – Matt Donato, IGN Movies

If we see a sequel, there’s at least the kernel of something here to build on, but it’s impossible to leave this movie feeling optimistic. – Joey Magidson, Awards Radar

While we certainly wouldn’t be against seeing more of Morbius, it’s never good when a post-credits scene feels more like a threat than a tease. – Josh Wilding,

Morbius has the worst sequel-bait for a movie in years… The best possibility here is for none of us to ever find out what would happen next. – Spencer Perry,

Everyone will be better off if Morbius doesn’t make a return appearance. – Luke Y. Thompson, SuperHeroHype

Morbius opens in theaters on April 1, 2022.

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