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‘Morbius’ review: Jared Leto tries bringing Marvel’s vampire to life in another Spider-Man villain origin story

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CNN
 — 

As Marvel films go, “Morbius” is extra a sip than a gulp, a comparatively small-boned Jekyll-and-Hyde story that strikes one other Spider-Man villain into the highlight. Considerably higher than “Venom” however nonetheless considerably missing in chew, this origin story maybe inevitably grows extra pallid towards the tip however till then proves simply tasty sufficient to benefit the giving it a shot.

Having sat on the shelf for 21 months since its originally scheduled release, the timing of the movie’s arrival merely underscores Jared Leto’s vary, from this dwelling vampire to an entrepreneurial vampire in “WeCrashed” entrepreneurial vampire to his scenery-chewing vampire in “House of Gucci.”

The character’s core, nonetheless, is a traditional literary one, with Dr. Michael Morbius having grown up hobbled by a uncommon blood dysfunction, successful a Nobel prize for his improvement of synthetic blood earlier than in search of to show his scientific genius unfastened on a remedy for his situation.

Working with one other scientist, Martine (Adria Arjona), Morbius has concocted a serum that pulls upon the blood of vampire bats. However whereas the human trial provides him extraordinary energy and vitality, it additionally creates an unquenchable thirst for blood, one which his synthetic creation solely goes thus far in satisfying.

“It’s a curse,” Morbius says soberly, however it doesn’t look that technique to his childhood pal Milo (“The Crown’s” Matt Smith), who suffers from the identical affliction and covets the serum, unwanted side effects be damned.

Directed by Daniel Espinosa (whose credit embody the sci-fi thriller “Life”) from a screenplay by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless, “Morbius” has ample firm on this planet of tortured antiheroes and villains whose well-intentioned scientific targets go terribly improper. (One other Spider-Man foe, the Lizard, shares nearly the very same again story.)

Whereas the modest scale really works to the movie’s benefit, taking part in extra like an old school monster film than a superhero yarn, the plot is so simplistic and skinny that the filmmakers labor to extend the narrative till its climactic battle.

The particular results equally alternate between slow-motion and lightning velocity in demonstrating these vampiric attributes, though the central visible is perhaps the way in which Morbius shifts from a mortal guise to his vampire one, which, dad and mom ought to be forewarned, would possibly induce sleepless nights amongst youthful youngsters.

The intriguing query is how a lot traction one thing like “Morbius” will obtain in theaters, touchdown because it does in a hazy realm between Forties-style horror and action-packed blockbusters, after the commercial heroics of “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” Whereas the end-credit sequences conduct a good quantity of enterprise, that is a type of tales that might have benefited from being self-contained and fewer involved about its place inside Sony’s bigger cinematic universe.

In that context, “Morbius” clears the admittedly low bar for these solo tales. However the materials is simply too anemic, frankly, to ponder spreading its wings a lot past that.

“Morbius” premieres in US theaters on April 1. It’s rated PG-13.