TUCSON, Ariz. — Humorless, sullen, and brooding, "Morbius" ratchets up the emo factor to ludicrous levels.
Jared Leto stars as the title character, an anti-hero so obsessed with curing his chronic blood disease that he accidentally becomes a superhuman vampire.
Hey, these things tend to happen when you spend too much time in a top-secret basement lab tinkering with vampire bat blood.
Credit goes to Leto for managing to take the role seriously, even as his face monster-morphs via cheesy CGI and a humdrum script gives him little to do but sit around and be sad that he's a superhuman antihero vampire. Sure, he would do good, but men got to eat and ketchup isn't going to cut it.
Mixing elements of the recent cinematic origin stories of Dr. Strange, Venom, and Batman, director Daniel Espinosa's drama takes on the thankless task of telling a lackadaisical origin story to crank out another misunderstood villain for Spider-Man to sling webs at.
The movie shows promise in its first half, which eschews the comic book flick convention of a clear-cut enemy. Instead, the film is all about Morbius's lamenting introspection. Eventually, though, the clunky plot mechanics kick into gear, and the film's momentum drains away like blood from the neck of a hapless anti-hero superhuman vampire victim.
Supporting characters include Matt Smith as Milo — Morbius's bestie who also craves healing from a similar blood syndrome — and Adria Arjona as Martine, a doctor who aids Morbius in his research. All the real character development, though, falls to Morbius himself. Everyone around him is just gloomy window dressing.
As disappointing as the movie may be, its post-credit sequence is even worse. Two bizarre, out-of-place teases to future films involving Venom, Spider-Man and Morbius are clunky and forced, inspiring more dread than anticipation.
That's life as Morbius, all right. No wonder he's so sad.
Viewed Thursday at Harkins Arizona Pavilions.
RATING: 2 stars out of 4.
Phil Villarreal is the senior real-time editor for KGUN 9. He is also a digital producer and host of "Phil on Film" seen weekly on Good Morning Tucson, Phil moved to KGUN after 17 years with the Arizona Daily Star, where he was a movie critic, columnist, and reporter. He has penned three books: Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel, Stormin' Mormon and Zeta Male. A University of Arizona business graduate, he has four children. Share your story ideas and important issues with Phil by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.