NEW YORK (CNS) — Fans of the “Twilight” franchise know that, according to its particular lore, vampires are lustrous and shiny. “Morbius” (Columbia), a Marvel Comics-based adventure with a bloodsucker at the heart of its story is, by contrast, downright drab.
Jared Leto plays the gifted physician from whose last name director Daniel Espinosa’s adaptation takes its title.
In attempting to cure the blood disease from which he has suffered since childhood, Morbius mixes human DNA with that of vampire bats. The resulting concoction gives him temporary relief but comes with a rather alarming side effect: to wit, he frequently transforms into a rampaging vein-drainer.
This double-edged breakthrough has significant implications for Morbius’ lifelong best friend Lucien (Matt Smith), aka Milo, who is afflicted with the same illness. It also affects Morbius’ relationship with his closest collaborator and potential love interest, Martine Bancroft (Adria Arjona).
Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless’ script features debates about whether the superpowers Morbius gains along with his thirst for plasma are a gift or a curse. But these are secondary to the depiction of his ability to zoom around and wreak destruction, especially after a similar creature to himself appears on the scene to serve as an equally mighty opponent.
Having invented artificial blood, Morbius resolves to get along by drinking it instead of the real thing. But the ersatz liquid is of diminishing potency. While the doctor’s determination not to cross this “red line” (the fake stuff is blue) can be applauded, his preparation to commit suicide rather than do so is far less straightforward.
The picture’s portrayal of mayhem is predominantly restrained, and the dialogue only goes off-color occasionally. So some parents may feel comfortable allowing older teens to patronize the movie. If so, however, like other viewers, they’ll be in for a grinding experience.
The film contains mostly stylized violence with some gore, a scene of torture, brief irreverence, at least one rough term, about a half-dozen crude expressions and fleeting crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
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Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.