Starring: Xolo Maridueña, Bruna Marquezine, Adriana Barraza, Damián Alcázar, Raoul Max Trujillo, Susan Sarandon, and George Lopez
Director: Ángel Manuel Soto
Blue Beetle has a mustache-twirling, corporate evildoer problem, but not so much so that it sabotages the heart that director Ángel Manuel Soto infuses into the rest of the film. Combining dynamic action with vibrant humor, Soto keeps Latino culture and strong familial values at the story’s core to make Jamie Reyes (Xolo Maridueña) and his family indispensable components of the DCU’s future. Maridueña is a star, but it’s his endearing relationship with La Familia Reyes (VAMOS NANA!!!) that holds the movie’s appeal. That, plus a seamless integration of the superhero’s comic history, allows Blue Beetle to overcome the failings of the villain aspect.
My expectations for Blue Beetle were low because the trailers didn’t excite me and I haven’t been impressed with DC recently. So, I suppose it’s a win that I found this movie to be, at worst, watchable. As a superhero movie, I’ve seen it before. It’s predictable to the point that it feels like there was no effort given to make it otherwise. However, the family aspect is where the film’s strengths lie. Between its genuine heart and a great lead performance from Xolo Maridueña, you have the best DC movie to come out this year… but only by default.
While Blue Beetle isn’t likely to revive the superhero genre or DC’s bottom line, it’s still one of their more successful projects from a character perspective. Xolo Maridueña shines as the titular protagonist, and when the film is focusing on him, his family dynamic, and their Latino heritage, it’s really singing (Belissa Escobedo also is a standout). Where the film falls short is with its villain. Simply put, Victoria Kord (Susan Sarandon) is essentially a racist caricature with a mostly cartoon henchman. That said, these problems are largely overcome by surprising emotion and solid action.
I had high hopes for Blue Beetle to be a champion for the Latinx community in the superhero arena, but DC dropped the ball again. The acting feels stiff and unpracticed, with Xolo Maridueña as the exception, and everything from the set design to the editing feels careless, haphazard, and often unrealistic. But I am mostly disappointed by the missed opportunity to shine as something unique in an otherwise overdone genre. The loving family dynamic is heartfelt, but it suffers in the backdrop of the film’s overarching missteps. I hope the sequel can take advantage of a recipe that is primed for something special.
While Blue Beetle isn’t perfect by any means, it shimmers by having lots of heart. There also is plenty of fun to be had throughout this popcorn flick, especially with the Reyes family. With that said, those are the only aspects of the film that truly excel. Susan Sarandon’s mustache-twirling villainess takes you out of the film completely, and just does not work at all. Overall, this latest DC entry is your run-of-the-mill origin story, with no new attributes to make it stand out from the other superhero movies we have gotten over the years.
Blue Beetle is another entry in the increasingly tiresome genre of superhero cinema. Though the stakes are refreshingly smaller than many recent superhero films, it unfortunately suffers mundane action sequences featuring atypical CGI characters crashing into each other. However, it’s the family dynamic that is the heart of this latest DC entry led by Xolo Maridueña, who is genuinely excellent and clearly having an absolute blast. Whilst the question of which DC cinematic universe this takes place in might be a little hazy, Blue Beetle is self-contained and grounded enough that it doesn’t overly matter at this point.
Yes, Blue Beetle feels like other 90s superhero movies as it's formulaic and familiar. Having said that, the charisma of Xolo Maridueña as Jaime Reyes is undeniable, which elevates the material. It's evident how much fun he is having with the character. Beyond him, the presence of his family adds a nice touch, though George Lopez as Rudy Reyes can be a little overbearing. The importance of the Latinx representation cannot be overstated, but I wish it came with a more unique formula. I didn't love Blue Beetle (nor hate it), but thanks to Xolo Maridueña, I'm looking forward to seeing the character again.