After drunkenly agreeing to review Morbius (2022) for bad apple, I reluctantly sat down with my partner the next day, both of us hungover, to spend 104 minutes of our short lives watching the hopefully-short-lived meme of a film, Morbius. It stars Jared Leto, a truly unhinged celebrity, and not in the hot way like Andrew Garfield or Robert Pattinson. Maybe it’ll actually be good, I thought to myself. Or maybe it’ll at least be so bad it’s entertaining. I was wrong. Dear reader, it’s Morbin’ time …
We begin in media res, with a scene that so desperately wants to be dark and mysterious but comes across only as confusing. We then are taken to the backstory of Dr Michael Morbius as a 10-year-old growing up in a hospital, and we are introduced to Lucien, his new surrogate brother who has a blood disease like Michael. Michael’s first surrogate brother was called Milo, and so he has called every other arrival since Milo too, and so for the rest of the film Lucien is called Milo, and this isn’t questioned at all.
After a despondent conversation between Michael and Milo, Milo just straight up karks it, slumping over into his bed. Michael gets up and Instead of calling for help, this 10-year-old kid starts playing with Milo’s medical equipment until he fixes it with the spring of a ballpoint pen, saving Milo. And so begins Michael’s meteoric rise to medical genius, as we see him awarded a Nobel Prize, which he refuses, for developing artificial blood.
We are then introduced to his lab partner and presumed love interest, Martine Bancroft, and are treated to some moral waffling about the purpose and limits of science and medicine from Dr Morbius. It’s not relevant to the plot at all, but Morbius then saves some girl’s life in a hospital bed next to the lab.
After we are introduced to Matt Smith as adult Milo, we find out Morbius and Martine are working on a cure for the disease Morbius and Milo have. The rats they are testing it on keep dying, but as soon as one rat doesn’t die Morbius decides to test this stuff out on himself, which in case you weren’t aware, is not what they teach you to do in medical school.
Morbius and Martine go on a ship offshore to do the tests, which as I’m sure you can guess, don’t go quite as expected. Morbius turns into a little freak, and I genuinely cackled because he looked like Voldemort, if Voldemort was a drummer in a grunge band.
After a fight scene with some random baddies, which culminates in a matrix slow-mo moment and Morbius draining the baddies of all their blood, he eventually loses what I am calling his Morb-face and returns to human form, except now he is buff. Martine is left unconscious after being thrown to the ground by the baddies. The cops later show up and find an origami bat next to their bodies.
In what I can only guess was meant to be for the girls and the gays, we get a shot of Morbius doing up his shirt, and the camera lingers on his new abs for what feels like too long. It doesn’t work though, I’m sorry but Marvel simply cannot make me swoon for the lead singer of 30 Seconds to Mars. The later scenes with a shirtless Matt Smith, on the other hand, did not go unappreciated.
The plot for the next portion of the film is told entirely through Morbius recording his research notes. It is entirely uninteresting, although there is something so funny about the movie referring to real blood (as opposed to the artificial stuff) as “the red”. “Drink the red or die” is an iconic line, and something I might expect to hear at a raucous BYO too.
While I can’t say the film gets scary, it does become darker and more horror-themed after a nurse is straight-up murked in the hallway of the hospital, drained of her blood by someone we are led to believe is Morbius. When the body is found, Morbius is with the girl from earlier for some reason but tries to leave the building, only to be arrested by cops.
In jail, they question him about the death of the nurse, which he denies being responsible for. He starts twitching and signs of his Morb-face start showing. He then snarls a one-liner birthed from the unholy union of a Hulk movie and a Snickers ad.
“I’m starting to get hungry, and you don’t wanna see me when I’m hungry.”
I had to stop the film here, it was simply too much. I turned to my partner to see their reaction to what can only be described as the greatest line in cinematic history, but they were already fast asleep and honestly, I was envious of them. I moved my mouse to see how far through we were and to my horror we had barely made it halfway.
I don’t want to spoil the rest of this masterpiece for you or put you through reading the rest of the so-called plot, so I’ve very briefly summarised the remaining highlights.
Lots of grunting and snarling, and lots of slow-mo. Morbius flying through a subway in a manner far too reminiscent of the music video for Ed Sheeran’s Bad Habits. A predictable romantic kiss that instantly raised questions about the logistics of Morbius sex. Is it more kinky? Is it dangerous for Morbius to eat someone out with his Morbface? And most importantly, what that Morbussy do?
Here are some selected quotes that show how this movie is somehow both unoriginal and absurd:
“You have a gift.”
“I wouldn’t go in there if I were you.”
“You shouldn’t be down here.”
“The Pretty Little Stinky Pinky.”
“Who the hell are you, man?”
“Me? I. Am. Venom.”
(Note: While they apparently are in the same universe, Morbius is not Venom. He is Morbius.)
“Here, kitty kitty kitty *shakes litterbox*”
*obnoxious cop banter*
I love bats. I voted for pekapeka for Bird of the Year last year, and that’s a big deal. But there are so many things you could base superpowers on, we probably don’t need two superhero franchises based on bats, right? Why isn’t there a cuttlefish superhero? Or a mountain goat superhero? I would watch those movies in a heartbeat.
This movie is bad. Not bad in a bonkers entertaining way like Hard Ticket to Hawaii or Fateful Findings. Just bad. There are essentially two main characters and two side characters, and none of them have any depth. There were too many incomprehensible action sequences, and far too many grunts and snarls from the two main characters. And not once did I hear the phrase “It’s Morbin’ Time”. A total rip off, tbh.
The ending was incredibly anti-climactic, and followed by a vague cliffhanger, teasing the possibility of a sequel. And there very well might be, given the attention the film has seen — mostly in the form of memes. I only have myself and anyone else joking about Morbin’ Time, to blame. I’m sorry.
Featured image courtesy of Know Your Meme.