• Wed. Apr 17th, 2024

BLUE BEETLE – This Bug is Ready to Rock, Roll, and Fight Evil!

ByTaylor T Carlson

Aug 27, 2023

BLUE BEETLE is directed by Angel Manuel Soto. The film stars, Xolo Mariduena, Adriana Barraza, Damian Alcazar, Raoul Max Trujillo, Susan Sarandon, and George Lopez.

Jaime Reyes returns to his family in Palmera City after having graduated from Gotham’s School of Law, a city where the divide between the wealthy and the destitute is wider than ever. He arrives to the news his family will be losing their house to corporate developers. Given a promising lead, he attempts to seek employment to help his loved ones, but instead films himself fused, through a series of odd events, to a mysterious scarab, gaining strange powers and abilities he doesn’t understand. When corporate villains bent on using this tech for their own means set out to get it for themselves, it’s up to Jaime to become the Blue Beetle, and fight back to help his family.

I think we’re finally arriving at that point where DC Comics is making better movies than Marvel Comics, though the vision for DC’s cinematic future remains a bit clouded at this point with something of a reboot going on (apparently, according to Wikipedia, this is part of older DCEU of films and not the newer rebooted DCU, but we won’t get into that here). BLUE BEETLE’s corporate villains and superhero origin stories are nothing new or original, but it’s the things I didn’t expect that made me fall in love with this movie, including a diverse and ethnic cast and atmosphere, a great family dynamic, and a solid execution of even the more formulaic elements.

A family story doesn’t work is the actors playing the family don’t have chemistry. In the lead role in the film we have young Jaime, portrayed by Xolo Mariduena (probably best known for portraying the character Miguel on Cobra Kai). Ever the optimist and wanting to help his family, no matter how over-the-top and ridiculous they may be at times, the young actor fits the role perfectly. Superhero origin stories are difficult to pull off, but BLUE BEETLE chooses it leading man well, I truly hope Mariduena will be retained for future DC films. Seeing him teaming up with characters like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman would certainly be a lot of fun.

And how about the rest of the family? The movie has a largely Hispanic/Latino cast, and the chemistry between all these persons makes them feel like a real family. From a wisecracking sister who isn’t afraid to speak her mind no matter how disgusting it may be to a grandma with a hidden past, and even an eccentric uncle played by comedian George Lopez, you’ll laugh and cry alike, whether it’s a hilarious familial squabble or a true tragedy faced by the clan. The movie even takes its time to flesh out the human characters before we get down to the superhero business, and that’s a welcomed change from fast and flashy tales with no substance that are all too common on the big screen these days. The soundtrack is even largely Hispanic/Latino/Spanish language, although the movie does still make room to squeeze in some Motley Crue, much to this headbanger’s delight.

I’m pleased to say BLUE BEETLE looks great too. The settings feel believable, including a gap between the rich and poor areas of Palmera City. It’s a relatable tale in more ways than one with its world building, with rundown ghettos and neon-lined skyscrapers alike. Of all of the locales the DCEU has given audiences so far, this may be the most lived-in and authentic one. The special effects work looks equally fantastic, giving the action scenes the edge a tale like this requires.

While it is certainly one of the better offerings from the House of DC as of late, the movie doesn’t quite succeed in every area. Susan Sarandon’s talents are wasted as a one-dimensional corporate villain; it’s sad when the “muscle” she has working for her who serves as the movie’s “supervillain” of sorts feels more fleshed out and interesting. You’re going to have a feeling of deja vu as you watch this one, with plot points and elements that feel like they could’ve been lifted from countless other superhero tales. The running time of just over two hours (including credits) is a bit excessive; a good 15-20 minutes or so and some secondary and tertiary characters probably could’ve been trimmed with no real harm to the final product.

BLUE BEETLE is formulaic and doesn’t bring much new to the superhero mythos. But what it does bring is a great, diverse cast with excellent chemistry and a strong message of family; I certainly liked this film more than I thought I would, and it’ll hopefully give DC the hit they need to gain dominance at the cinema. Highly recommended!

By Taylor T Carlson

Taylor T Carlson Assistant Editor/Senior Staff Writer Taylor T. Carlson was born August 17, 1984, and has called the Vegas Valley home his entire life. A die-hard fan of classic rock and metal music, Taylor has been writing album and concert reviews since he was 16 years old, and continues to do so, having done well over 1,000 reviews. He is also a fan of video gaming and cinema, and has reviewed a number of games and films as well, old and new alike. His thorough and honest (some would say brutally honest) reviewing style has won him the respect of hundreds of music fans and musicians alike, both local and abroad, and the ire of just as many others. Despite being one of the youngest attendees at classic hard rock/metal shows around Vegas, he is also one of the most knowledgeable, having gained the unofficial nickname of “The Eddie Trunk of Las Vegas.” In addition to reviews, Taylor has written and self-published three books on classic hard rock bands, and is a regular participant in rock and roll trivia contests. Taylor also holds a masters degree in special education from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), and has appeared on the hit History Channel television series Pawn Stars. His dream is to be able to one day make a living from writing music books and reviews.

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