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  • Young Critic

Blue Beetle

Updated: Sep 25, 2023

The latest from DC works better as a film about family than super-heroes

Super-hero fatigue is real. Despite the genre trying to find new juice to squeeze out of its over-exploited characters, it’s finding it harder to not repeat itself. DC is a studio that was sadly plagued with ill-planning during the golden era of Marvel films and couldn’t ride the wave of super-hero popularity with equal success. Blue Beetle (2023) is the latest film in the defunct DC Extended Universe, which will be scrapped and rebooted by the new creative chiefs.

Blue Beetle is the origin story of Jaime Reyes (Xolo Maridueña) a recent college-grad who returns home to Palmera City (stand-in for Miami), only to accidentally be taken over by an alien technology known as The Scarab. Jaime dons a symbiotic suit that can fly, generate objects out of thin air, and talk to him. Jaime, however, soon encounters The Scarab’s ruthless original pursuer, weapons industrialist Victoria Kord (Susan Sarandon).

Blue Beetle is directed by Angel Manuel Soto in only his second-ever feature film. Despite inexperience, Manuel Soto focuses on super-hero trends and cliches and successfully if unremarkably hits all the expected notes. Blue Beetle, feels like a piecemeal reconstruction of every super-hero origin story that has come before it: unwanted powers, traumatic father-figure loss, original villain mirroring the good-guy’s powers, etc. Sadly, viewers are far too saturated with such redundant beats to be impressed, if only Blue Beetle had come out in the mid-2000s, it might have held some vigor and thrills.

Manuel Soto shows promise in the character-building. Blue Beetle draws its greatest strength and vitality from its focus on family (Vin Diesel would be jealous), especially the warm Hispanic family unit at the center of the film. The dropped hints and references to Mexican-American life, specifically, will delight many bicultural Hispanics, shining a further light at an often Hollywood-ignored part of the American population.

The electricity in cultural authenticity is embodied by the film’s cast, made up of newcomers like Maridueña and romantic interest Bruna Marquezine, and veterans like George Lopez and Adriana Barraza as Jaime’s uncle and grandmother respectively. Maridueña is convincing and charming as the titular hero, exuding the challenging every-man vibe despite some of the most generic dialogue put in a screenplay. Lopez is hit-or-miss as the comic relief, teetering dangerously close to obnoxious territory. Barraza, however, is a true standout, leaning back during the first two thirds of the film, and bursting forth during the finale in hilarious and cheer-worthy moments.

In the end, however, Blue Beetle is too distracted with being another vanilla super-hero origin flick in detriment to its affecting family-centered story. Susan Sarandon is laughably bad and disinterested as the villain; albeit I’d like to see any actor whip something out of the seemingly AI-generated screenplay. The action is predictable and bland, filled with obvious CGI and quips that feel decades past their expiration date. Blue Beetle is yet another step downward in the super-hero deflating bubble, one only hopes that it doesn’t take down the brighter aspects of the promising cast and character direction.


About Young Critic

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I've been writing on different version of this website since February of 2013. I originally founded the website through a film-buff phase in high-school, but it has since continued through college and into my adult life. Young Critic may be getting older, but the love and passion for film is forever young. 

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