August 15th, 2023
MOVIE: BLUE BEETLE
STARRING: XOLO MARIDUENA, BRUNA MARQUEZINE, SUSAN SARANDON
DIRECTED BY: ANGEL MANUEL SOTO
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
A funny fact about superhero movies is that there have been so many of them that we have now circled back around and now new comic book movies remind us of the old ones. I’m also at the age where the heroes are characters I’ve never heard of or at least never read a single comic book about. The newest DC Universe venture- Blue Beetle benefits from being both of those things. Here’s a character that is part Iron Man, part Spider-Man, and finds a way to also be its entirely own thing. From director Angel Manuel Soto, Blue Beetle is part origin and part celebration of family heritage. Because of those things, and some other stuff, Blue Beetle succeeds at being a comic book movie that did not bug me.
The central theme is about family (take that Fast X!) and the main character is Jamie Reyes (Xolo Mariduena), a recent college grad, heading back to his home in Palerma City, with a warm welcome from mother Rocio (Elpidia Carrillo), father Alberto (Damian Alcazar), sister Milagro (Belissa Escobedo), uncle Rudy (George Lopez), and his Abuella (Adriana Barraza). They are a tight-knit family, but Jaimie is returning at a tough time. His dad recently had a heart attack and has been out of work, and now Kord Industries- the big tech company taking over the city- wants to move them out for new condos. Jaimie vows to do all he can to save the family home, now all he has to do is find a job.
Outside of Jaimie’s worries is the mysterious evil company of Kord. It’s run by Victoria Kord (Susan Sarandon doing her best evil billionaire), a technology billionaire looking for a device known as the scarab. It holds great power and she hopes to use it for weapons production. Her niece Jenny Kord (Bruna Marquezine) would like to use the family company for the greater good and when she steals the mysterious object, it winds up in Jaimie’s hands, choosing him, attaching to him, and giving him powers to become the next Blue Beetle.
From a narrative structure, there’s not a new approach to telling an origin story, but what elevates that standard style is a great energy from the cast. Soto’s direction creates great family chemistry, having his finger directly on the pulse of introducing a superhero steeped in Hispanic culture. The screenplay written by Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer, is a sweet mix of humor, action, and family connections. The laughs are often earned for Lopez, playing a long-bearded uncle that can’t trust the government and loves his car. But it also arrives in various moments for each other member of the family as well. It’s not just that Blue Beetle is a movie with a great sense of humor, it’s also unafraid to depict a family that loves one another, unafraid to make fun of someone one minute and pick them up the next. It won me over with its kindheartedness and charm.
Oddly enough, it is the action parts that work the best in Blue Beetle. He is an extremely cool character. A mix of flying ability with the insect-like quickness, and the fighting skills of a Power Ranger. It starts with Jaimie having no clue how to operate his power. He crashes into walls and windows as he flies. The weapons coming from his arms have unlimited power, but as he stays connected with the scarab, he becomes greater, and more in tune with the machine hero. The action becomes highlighted in multiple scenes where the Beetle must fight Victoria’s evil henchmen Carapax (Raoul Max Trujillo) and it hammers home the excitement when we see the Blue Beetle-mobile, a flying, walking, climbing bug machine that is super cool.
The complaint of this just being an origin story is valid and it becomes impossible to see that this superhero is not much different than many we have seen in the past. Yet, it still will absolutely win audiences over. This is an exciting superhero introduction, for those familiar with it and for those just learning who this Blue Beetle is. It is undeniably a great tribute to the Hispanic heritage as well, with easter eggs about Telenovelas, comedies, and the culture in general. And it’s not excluding audiences either. It’s an introduction to the Blue Beetle and this is one superhero family that I would like to be a part of.
BLUE BEETLE IS IN THEATERS EVERYWHERE FRIDAY AUGUST 18TH, 2023.
Written by: Leo Brady