From Warner Bros. Pictures comes the feature film “Blue Beetle,” marking the DC Super Hero’s first time on the big screen. The film, directed by Angel Manuel Soto, stars Xolo Maridueña in the title role as well as his alter ego, Jaime Reyes. Recent college grad Jaime Reyes returns home full of aspirations for his future, only to find that home is not quite as he left it. As he searches to find his purpose in the world, fate intervenes when Jaime unexpectedly finds himself in possession of an ancient relic of alien biotechnology: the Scarab. When the Scarab suddenly chooses Jaime to be its symbiotic host, he is bestowed with an incredible suit of armor capable of extraordinary and unpredictable powers, forever changing his destiny as he becomes the Super Hero BLUE BEETLE.
Blue Beetle Trailer:
Blue Beetle Video Review:
Blue Beetle kicked off a nice introduction for the character of Jaime Reyes. Xolo Maridueña was not only perfectly cast for the role, but he also gave a really solid performance. I thought he was incredibly relatable, especially with how his approach to gaining these new powers and the love he had for his family. The film made his journey of becoming a hero feel more realistic, especially with the technology involved. Kudos to the costume department because Blue Beetle’s suit looks amazing. One of my favorite moments with Jaime was his initial transformation as the Blue Beetle. While there have been plenty of hero transformations in other films, this one managed to feel unique enough to stand on its own. The VFX used during these scenes was also pretty spot on.
I thought the theme of the family worked well specifically for Jaime Reyes’ character. There’s a pretty emotional scene that happens (you’ll know it when you see it) that was essential in shaping Blue Beetle’s identity. What made this scene so effective was all of the build-up in the previous scenes of how essential family is to Reyes. With that build-up, I thought it led to a satisfying dramatic scene that helped this film grow right before our eyes. On another note, I really liked the action scenes too. My initial concern was that many of the scenes would look too similar to other superhero movies. However, director Angel Manuel Soto managed to pay homage to other films (e.g. Man of Steel) without making the fight scenes look like a direct rip-off.
Probably the best element of Blue Beetle was the authentic Latino culture that was portrayed. While I’m not of the Latino culture, my assessment of this comes mainly from the reactions of other Latino viewers who were in my screening. When certain Spanish phrases would be said, or cultural references made, I heard the hollers and cheers from those members of the audience. That’s all I needed to know that this film spoke to its intended audience. At the same time, I didn’t feel left out or out in the cold despite not understanding all of the references. Either way, I was happy that those represented in the film felt happy. So that’s a plus in my book.
Blue Beetle, unfortunately, couldn’t escape the formulaic curse that’s plagued superhero films. The story felt overly familiar and easily predictable at almost every turn. It also didn’t help that the ending of the movie felt pretty corny. There were a couple of good moments of comedic relief. I thought “Nana” was a delight in what she brought to the table. However, what didn’t work for me was the over-inclusion of the family. Don’t get me wrong, the Reyes family is fun, charming, and delightful for the most part. Yet, this film spent way too much time with them at the expense of the main character. I was disappointed with how little of Blue Beetle we actually got in a Blue Beetle movie. It would be like watching a Spider-Man origin film and having viewers spend time with Aunt May, Uncle Ben, and Mary Jane for over 30 minutes.
While it did make sense that the theme of family was a prominent component of the story, it was completely overused in different ways. From the dialogue constantly reminding people how important family is, to the excessive use of the supporting family characters, this family theme had the same energy as a Fast and Furious movie. The issue is that after the first act of the film, the family aspect got so repetitive that it almost became annoying. I found myself saying in my head, “Ok, I get it. Family is important”. The film simply could’ve benefited from more subtext with the family stuff.
Finally, to be a bit more specific about the heavy-handed family usage, George Lopez’s presence in this film was overbearing, to say the least. For a supporting character, it felt like he wanted to take over the movie, but not in a good, complimentary way. His character, “Uncle Rudy” was funny for the most part, but he definitely needed to be scaled back in the film. There were moments when his character didn’t even make sense as to why or how he was involved with things. For instance, there are moments in the film that other characters could have fulfilled but Rudy conveniently knows how to do everything needed. Again, Lopez is a fine actor, but his inclusion in this film went overboard and took away the shine from other characters that would’ve made more sense in the plot.
Blue Beetle is a wonderful introduction for DC’s first Latino superhero on the big screen, but it’s just a shame that the movie couldn’t be more than average. The hope going into this film was that it would have a similar social impact that Black Panther had when it debuted. Black Panther was able to speak to Black culture and be a great movie, while Blue Beetle spoke to Latino culture without being mind-blowing. I don’t see this film, in particular, pushing the needle in terms of the comic book movie genre, but the representation it carries is undeniable. I can’t say that a sequel for Blue Bettle is necessary either. Although, I’d love to see what the character has to offer in the future of the DCU based on what this movie started. If a sequel were to happen, hopefully, they tone down the family volume (Specifically George Lopez) and focus more on Jaime Reyes. If Blue Beetle debuted on streaming, I think this movie would be a much bigger hit. As for the theaters, I think it will be a fine watch with expectations tampered down a bit. There are two post-credit scenes after the film. The first one is ok but rather predictable. The second one was all in Spanish without subtitles. So if you don’t understand Spanish, it may not be worth your time waiting around to see. Feel free to check out Blue Beetle in theaters.
Director: Angel Manuel Soto
Writer(s): Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer
Stars: Xolo Maridueña, Adriana Barraza, Damían Alcázar, Elpidia Carrillo, Bruna Marquezine, Raoul Max Trujillo, Susan Sarandon, and George Lopez
Blue Beetle hits theaters August 18, 2023. Be sure to follow E-Man’s Movie Reviews on Facebook, Subscribe on YouTube, or follow me on Twitter/IG @EmansReviews for even more movie news and reviews!
Blue Beetle Review: Good For the Culture, Mediocre For the Movies
- Acting - 7/107/10
- Cinematography/Visual Effects - 8/108/10
- Plot/Screenplay - 6/106/10
- Setting/Theme - 6/106/10
- Watchability - 8/108/10
- Rewatchability - 7/107/10