One of the obscure villains of the Spyder-Man series of the Marvel Comics from the early seventies gets the big-screen treatment from Daniel Espinosa (Safe House). Another origin story following Venom: Let There Be Carnage for a brooding anti-hero known as “The Living Vampire.” The actual bat man, given a self-inflicted curse that isn’t recommended for impressionable younger viewers.
Morbius stars Jared Lento as the pallid, conflicted central character in a fairly whittled-down narrative from Matt Sazama and Back Sharpless. The scripters of The Last Witch Hunter injected a Jekyll/Hyde tale with much flair that often leaves it in a foolish frenzy. The studio knows what they have with this deviation from the old-fashioned coupled with the superhero endowed with lurid simplicity.
Lento’s titular science genius doctor, Michael (Nobel Prize winner from a blood invention), copes with a crippling rare disease with close colleague Martine Bancroft (Adria Arjona, a rote romantic interest). An antidote turns out to include his DNA with a vampire bat that is impetuously used on himself. Though it reverses the symptoms, the driven scientist becomes blood lusting and ghastly with enormous power and agility.
The mayhem that is displayed isn’t pleasing to him, yet his well-to-do reclusive friend Milo (Matt Smith from childhood with the same disorder (connected to a clinic operated by Jared Harris’ Dr Nicholas) is more responsive to this serum (with its side effects). Allowing Smith in gleeful, sickening fashion to open up with biting malevolence.
A competition of sorts ensues (as Milo shares a resentment about Dr. Nicholas) with FBI investigators (played by Tyrese Gibson and Al Madrigal as an attempt at levity) that is part of the crude inefficiency. It must culminate in a wild battle (with streaming light and smoke) that fits what is less splashy but dank and sloppy.
Luckily, this uninspired fare isn’t really pronged thanks to Pietro Scalia’s editing through countered by ‘teasers’ in the crawling credits (which posits a future presence in Adrian Toomes/Vulture from Spider-man: Homecoming by Birdman Michael Keaton).
In contrast to Smith, Lento dials back his performance in a way to let the effects personnel light it up when needed as relief from lugubrious anguish. Given the lengthy delays in getting Morbius released you might have thought it could have maneuvered a turn or two less trite. Alas another beginning of woeful franchise is a low-class Marvel affiliation into the Spider-Man into the Spider-Verse relished by unimpressive vampiric tedium that may have folks longing for the likes of Underworld or Blade.