“Blue Beetle,” the latest installment to the DC Extended Universe, follows Jaime Reyes, a recent college graduate, and his family as their lives become entangled with the Blue Beetle scarab.
The film stars Xolo Maridueña as the titular lead, while George Lopez stars as Uncle Rudy.
The biggest strength of “Blue Beetle” is its hilarious cast of characters and the endearing relationships they share with each other. The film breaks genre by focusing on our protagonist’s family, making them the heroes of the film.
Soto’s direction is rather daring for a superhero film with the narrative taking its time to get the audience well-versed with the Reyes family. It does, however, come at the cost of underdeveloping some other characters.
The film is supported by some hilarious writing by Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer, who fills the screenplay with witty one liners and some occasional situational comedy.
The movie unfortunately falters when it ventures into typical superhero film cliches. It loses out on the poignancy of an incredibly powerful and important emotional moment when it switches to comedy in the next few scenes. Had the emotion been allowed to breathe and linger, a later related sequence could have left the audience teary-eyed, but the imposition of comedy robs the narrative of any heavy emotional impact.
Action sequences are an important part of any superhero film–they’re responsible for creating and maintaining tension while keeping you on the edge of your seat and cheering for the lead. “Blue Beetle” doesn’t feature any remarkable action sequences–most are simply forgettable but they do their job for the most part.
The editing of the fight sequences is filled with lots of jump cuts and takes that aren’t long enough to actually rouse the audience. It also lacks an exciting theme score, which leaves most fight sequences to land flatly. The CGI on the suit is passable, but the VFX and CGI everywhere else might remind you of movies from the 80s. It makes certain shots glaringly unmissable and stand out like an eyesore.
That being said, “Blue Beetle” does break the genre by showing a different perspective of the superhero experience. Here comes a hero that isn’t rich or white but is from a struggling family trying to survive gentrification at the hands of a rich corporation. Every single one of his actions has severe consequences–some of them hitting harder than you’d expect–as the film doesn’t hesitate to display the glaring differences of the experience when your main lead is the son of undocumented Mexican immigrants. It also incorporates some references to Latin culture, with the TV series “El Chapulín Colorado” getting a shoutout.
The film makes it a point to acknowledge the immigrant experience–microaggressions, questions on endurance and strength and strong views on who benefits from war and who are disproportionately affected are made clear. It doesn’t hesitate to point fingers where they should have been pointed a long time ago.
I only wish this was incorporated with better writing and treated better in the narrative. However, this is a superhero film and burdening it with making important political statements just because it features a Latino hero isn’t the way to go about it either.
The predictable writing doesn’t particularly give the movie a chance to surprise or enthrall you. It simply reminds you of a mashup of some other films of the genre. It leaves you feeling a bit confused because you can see what it could’ve been had it taken some risks, but it crushes itself under the weight of the genre’s stale cliches.
The film is still rather entertaining with a cast that tries their absolute best and a giant leap above some of DC’s other recent outings, but if you went in with some superhero fatigue, as most of us did thanks to certain previous releases, you’ll leave a bit disappointed.