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Review: Oscar-winner bares his fangs for Spider-Man’s ‘Morbius’

“Morbius” is an anti-hero in the “Spider-verse,” the universe of heroes, villains centered around everyone’s favorite comic book superhero, Spider-Man. The scientist-turned-living-vampire gets his own big-screen treatment in a recent release starring Jared Leto as the titular character.

"Morbius" movie poster
"Morbius" is playing again at the Lakes 12 Theatre in Baxter. The sci-fi horror movie is the feature film adaptation of the Spider-Man comic book character Dr. Michael Morbius, a vampiric antihero.
Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch
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BAXTER — The Lakes 12 Theatre in Baxter recently brought back a sci-fi horror movie. And given the immense popularity of “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” it’s easy to see why.

“Morbius” stars Academy Award-winner Jared Leto as Dr. Michael Morbius, a Nobel-winning scientist with a blood disease who is traditionally a villain in Spider-Man’s comic book world.

The feature film portrays the chameleon character actor with a leading man’s good looks as an antihero of sorts — someone who does the wrong thing for the right reasons.

In the motion picture, Morbius tries an unproven treatment he pioneered to cure himself and others with blood-related diseases, a drug that was derived from exotic bats.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist — or even a hematologist — to predict how quickly his desperate plan for salvation goes quickly off the rails with unexpected results.

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The “living vampire,” as he’s often referred to, has an unquenchable thirst for human blood. But he’s embued with superhuman abilities associated with bats: sonar, flight, etc.

Much like the comic book hero Blade, an African American vampire slayer who was the result of an unholy union between a vampire and a human, Morbius is also a daywalker.

Morbius is embodied with much of a traditional vampire’s strength and unhindered for the most part by most of the blood-sucking creatures’ conventional weaknesses, such as sunlight.

Morbius manages to keep his appearances human for the most part, unless he’s low on blood, so to speak, in which case his baser instincts emerge and he makes a meal out of passers-by.

For the motion picture, Leto undergoes a physical transformation to embody Morbius, starting off the film as a sickly, skeleton of a man who needs crutches to move around to becoming a buff believable superhero of sorts who has left behind his frailties. … but at what cost?

MORE MOVIE COLUMNS BY FRANK LEE:
“Vengeance” was written by its star B.J. Novak (from the NBC sitcom “The Office”) in his directorial debut. The dark comedy is about a journalist for The New Yorker capitalizing on a casual hookup’s death for a new story or podcast but her family believes he is her boyfriend.

The Oscar winner is no stranger to physical transformation for his on-screen portrayals of flawed or complex characters, from his award-winning role in “Dallas Buyers Club” about AIDS to his more recent and buffoonish depiction of a wannabe-designer in “House of Gucci.”

In “Morbius,” his character comes to realize much like Spider-Man that with great power comes great responsibility and, despite the horrific nature of his transformation, he can use his newfound talents for either good or evil.

Frank Lee
Frank Lee

“Morbius” is just the latest attempt by Sony Pictures to spin off the moviemaker’s cinematic rights to the Marvel comic book character into a Spider-Man-centered film franchise.

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Those efforts began with the surprise hit “Venom,” a motion picture about an alien symbiote that takes over the body of a tabloid journalist played by Tom Hardy. That unexpected blockbuster was followed up by a recent sequel.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson will portray the comic book character Kraven the Hunter in Sony’s major motion picture of the same name that comes out next year. Taylor-Johnson played another Marvel comic book character by the name of Quicksilver in Marvel Cinematic Universe.

And there’s a good chance that the feature film adaptation “Kraven the Hunter,” just like the feature films “Mobius” and “Venom” that came before it, will have characters that are neither all good or all bad because the truth of most people is that we behave somewhere in between.

FRANK LEE may be reached at 218-855-5863 or at frank.lee@brainerddispatch.com . Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bdfilmforum .

Related Topics: MOVIESTHINGS TO DO BRAINERD
I cover arts and entertainment, and write feature stories, for the Brainerd Dispatch newspaper. As a professional journalist with years of experience, I have won awards for my fact-based reporting. And my articles have also appeared in other publications, including USA Today. 📰
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