Cast: Xolo Mairdueña, Bruna Marquezine, Susan Sarandon, Harvey Guillén, Becky G, Yuli Zorrilla, Raoul Max Trujillo, Elpidia Carrillo
Director: Angel Manuel Soto
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Thriller
In Cinemas: August 18, 2023
Recent college graduate Jamie Reyes (Xolo Mairdueña) returns home to his family in Palmera City when he is selected to become a symbiotic host to the Scarab. This ancient alien biotechnological relic grants him a powerful exoskeleton armour, turning him into the superhero Blue Beetle.
Walking into the screening, I did not know much about the DC character Blue Beetle nor was I familiar with most of the entire cast, except for George Lopez and the villain Susan Sarandon. So, it would be a thoroughly refreshing experience knowing very little about what I was about to watch, and I intend to do it more often. It has everything you would hope a superhero would have and comes at a perfect balance. The cast is incredible, works very well when interacting with each other, and collectively artistically complements each individual’s performance almost flawlessly. Uncle Rudy (George Lopez) emerges as the fan-favourite contender, as the paranoid conspiracist that hilariously dominates the screen every time he is on it. He brings incredible humour and devilment when faced with complex situations that make you laugh; he also has surprising beliefs that Batman is a fascist. All the other main cast have individual characteristics and qualities that are also likeable and unique, including Nana (Adriana Barraza), an expert in using machine guns, which probably seemed funnier on paper. But the theme around solid family bonds is the main thing that works emotionally and is quite different to other DC and Marvel movies. It powerfully explores the theme of emigration and belonging among the Mexican community and culture and the American treatment and ideology towards it.
The plot can sometimes be flat with that feeling of déjà vu compared to other storylines from similar superhero movies; the first twenty minutes seemed generic and lacked that audience interaction. The jokes were not landing, and I wasn’t sure what direction the film was going, as the pacing was slow and not appealing. But again, the charm of the Reyes family overshines and carries the narrative when it can begin to run out of steam on rare occasions. There are moments when we spend time with just the family and without Jamie, so the family are the core of this movie. The film comes to life and erupts with excitement and energy when Jamie Reyes (Xolo Mairdueña) starts becoming and transforming into Blue Beetle, which instantaneously becomes more fun to watch. So much work in this that the faults come and go because the enjoyment causes the distraction when it gets bumpy and weighs out the problems. I wasn’t oversold on the vilians, Victoria Kord (Susan Sarandon) had this emotionless, cold typical attitude that we have seen countless other times, and Carapax (Raoul Max Trujillo) had an intriguing back story that is very briefly touched on; I wanted to learn more about him.
Blue Beetle is a very predictable movie, and it is nothing original. Still, using a family as the ensemble’s main character and not just having one stand-alone superhero is refreshing. The whole family around our central character is crucial to the whole experience, elevating every scene together. I had lots of fun with it and found it entertaining, and I can’t wait to see what potentially happens next with the character.