Countless delays and loads of confusing advertisements later, we can rejoice as we’ve all survived to see the day that Sony’s Morbius was released in theaters. I feel like I can confidently say that I was the MOST (and maybe only) excited person to see Morbius that I know, and now I have finally seen it. I’ve been out of the theater probably about 30 minutes as of writing this and let me just say this – Morbius is really, really, complicated and confusing. And it didn’t have to be this way.
Conceptually, Morbius is one of the coolest things to be released with Marvel attached to it since Nicholas Cage’s magnum opus Ghost Rider. The movie has some incredible foundation to build a film on top of: a scientist with a disease that will soon kill him finds a cure, only to realize that cure has released an unrelenting blood-hungry vampire inside of him…
WHAT?! Nothing could ever be as cool as that sentence right there. Throw in an NYC setting, some interesting moral conflicts, and some incredibly appealing visual choices and that sounds right up my alley.
But somehow they seem to have butchered it.
Now when I say they, I’m not exactly sure to which “they” I am referring. Consider “they” to be whoever was responsible for editing this monstrosity. I never thought we’d be living in a world where both major Jared Leto comic book film outings had deep-rooted editing issues that would drive me up a wall, but here we are. The editing in Morbius may be the worst that I’ve ever seen, and could possibly be the worst editing to come out of major studio production.
There’s no more frustrating feeling than when I try my hardest to enjoy a movie and the movie gets in the way of its own success. Morbius is a victim of itself.
Sometimes, entire scenes will go by and you’ll realize that you don’t think you saw a single word come out of someone’s mouth. Instead, the only words spoken are while you stared at the back of their heads. Other times, the words audibly coming out of one’s mouth won’t match the words that they are clearly making with their mouth.
Mistakes like these make me wonder if there’s some studio meddling and the film was forced to change things due to outside circumstances. But then there are moments that make no sense and wouldn’t be solved with that explanation.
[Warning: spoilers for Morbius in the paragraph below. I’m going to refer to the opening 10 or so minutes so it will only be minor, but if you’d like to go into the film as blind as a bat, I’d suggest you avoid the next section.]
Morbius opens right in the middle of the action. Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) gets off of a helicopter in the jungle where he gets the attention of a ton of bats in a cave. Then the film suddenly cuts to years ago when Morbius was a boy. We get quite a short scene here, but it feels like 15 minutes of flashbacks cut into 3 or so minutes.
The film then cuts back to the present day where Morbius is on stage about to accept a Nobel prize for the experiment we saw him conducting at the very beginning of the film. Just as Morbius takes the stage to say something, we cut to him in some lab taking care of a young girl who mentions that he just refused to accept the prize.
To say this all happens in 10 minutes would be generous. The movie flies through scene after scene, swiftly changing the setting by decades and giving the audience no time to adjust before dragging us back into the modern-day and giving us two scenes that feel redundant and unnecessary. The editing is just as jarring throughout the entire runtime.
The most frustrating part about Morbius is something I mentioned at the beginning: it had a lot of promise. Beyond just an incredibly cool and interesting premise, it had some of the most interesting visual choices I’ve seen in a comic book film in a long time.
The way Morbius’s echolocation causes this dust to fall from the edges of everything it reveals is really incredible. Or the way that a trail of color follows him while he jumps through the skies.
Morbius is also one of the few movies that I actually enjoyed seeing slow-motion utilized in, because the rest of the action sequences were so fast-paced it felt necessary to slow down and get a good grasp of what’s going on.
This film surprisingly introduces a great complex conflict, but weirdly doesn’t spend any time developing it into something that would leave a lasting impact. For one tiny little scene with maybe 10 lines of dialogue back and forth, the movie tackles a concept of ethics and morality: if you could save the life of the one you love, that might cost the lives of others, would you do it?
Everything in the movie that led up to this moment was done quite well and I was excited to see them tackle something so bold but it was tossed away so quick, I was really just left wishing that was the entire movie.
While Morbius is a movie I really think I enjoyed to some extent, it’s hard to digest and discuss. The editing is so detrimental to the rest of the film that it makes the content hard to sift through.
I thought I had issues with the writing, but on second glance, it seems like the writing is only a victim of poor editing and later added ADR. Besides the small glimpses of promise in the cast or in the visual choices, there’s not a lot more there that’s praiseworthy.
Morbius is a movie that won’t let itself succeed, and I wish it would get out of its own way.
My rating for this film:
★ / ♥♥½
Morbius is now available in theaters. Have you seen this movie? What did you think? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @MyCosmicCircus.