Superhero films can sometimes fall into a familiar formula that gets tiring for some audiences, despite how much it works. It can be difficult trying to mix things up enough to make the same kind of story feel unique and different. This is the hurdle that Blue Beetle finds itself in, both as a superhero film and as another entry into the cinematic universe of DC comic book heroes. Although there is a strong focus on family relationships and overcoming hardship to become stronger in life, awkward moments and humor that often miss prevent this movie from being something truly special. There’s a stable foundation in here that can work out well, but it all never fully comes together to form something great.
Blue Beetle follows a young college graduate named Jamie Reyes and his family. Jaime wants to get a job working for a major company in order to help his family get out of their struggle living in the lower class. But constant setbacks and hardship keep making things difficult. That is until he is forced into guarding a mysterious piece of alien technology called the Scarab, which bonds with Jaime and turns him into the Blue Beetle. Because of this, Jaime and his family are thrown into danger by the Kord Industries, led by Victoria Kord. She wants to use the technology of the Scarab to create weapons and change the world with the help of the OMAC project, made from hijacked technology.
The best parts of Blue Beetle are the close bonds between Jaime and his family members. The conversations between him and his father, his sister, and even his uncle Rudy touch on very emotional points that will stand out. One of the best is when it’s Jaime and his father sitting down and discussing how to get through tough times through perseverance and patience. It’s a showcase of solid acting from Xolo Mariduena and Damian Alcazar. These kinds of moments are complimented by some of the action in the film. There’s a good amount of fighting with Jaime as Blue Beetle against a group of soldiers, which looks pretty good.
But what about the Blue Beetle suit itself, does it look good overall? There are moments when Jaime as Blue Beetle looks very good, especially when he’s in combat or when there’s a blue lightning effect around the suit. That’s when the effects are at their best. Some people will easily compare the design of the suit to Marvel’s Iron Man suit, which shares many similarities. They don’t have the exact same abilities, but their weapons are somewhat alike. But when Blue Beetle is standing still or when there’s no lightning around him, the suit does look a lot cheaper than one would expect. You can notice the rubber on the suit in some shots that take away from the illusion of it being an alien suit covering Jaime’s body. With better framing in some scenes, these imperfections could’ve been hidden better.
The movie is also held back from being fantastic by moments where the pacing feels mishandled. Some scenes will drag on for way too long with jokes that don’t always feel like they are landing, often coming off as either too cheesy or awkward than funny. The beginning of the film takes a while to get past much of the setup, with it feeling like a long time before Jaime comes across the Scarab and the Blue Beetle action starts to rev up. There also isn’t a lot of time to make sense of how Jaime becomes adept with his skills in the Blue Beetle suit, or his connection with the Scarab itself. The plot almost rushes through in order to get Jaime to the point it needs him for a big fight scene. And while the battle looks good, you’ll have to often forget that Jaime hasn’t had the Scarab for very long to be as good as he is.
You might also find yourself not connecting too much with the villain of the film. Although Blue Beetle doesn’t have as iconic of a rogues’ gallery as many other DC heroes, the bad guys in this film feel shallow. Raoul Trujillo plays Conrad Carapax, who ends up getting a suit that can rival Blue Beetle’s armor but doesn’t have an interesting backstory. Much of the details are dumped at the very end, which feels like a massive cop-out. The real villain of the story is Victoria Kord, played by Susan Sarandon, who has a connection to the original Blue Better Ted Kord. But her presence and overall impact feel just as shallow as Carapax, despite much of the story taking place because of her actions with Kord Industries. This isn’t going to be a movie that gives DC fans a great new villain in cinema, which is a shame for a hero that is definitely likable.
Something that will often feel like a misstep in the film is the humor, which doesn’t always hit the jokes as well as it probably should. There are some jokes that have great timing and work well within a given scenario that involve George Lopez as Uncle Rudy, but they are far and few between. The best jokes often imply Rudy’s conspiracy theorist ways or even how the Scarab may have gotten into Jaime when it chose him. But the humor that really doesn’t work is when things go far on the cheesy side, such as the moments involving Jaime’s grandmother and her implied history as a revolutionary fighter. Seeing her pick up a giant Gatling gun as a very old lady, on top of knowing how to storm a high-tech military facility, often feels like too far a leap in logic for the story. It’s played for laughs in context, but may not be that funny for most viewers.
Much of the misses in humor for Blue Beetle can also be attributed to the whiplash tone shifts between various scenes. There will be very serious emotional or action moments that are placed next to outlandish comedic moments within the same scene. It can make things somewhat confusing for the overall tone the movie is aiming for, with some action moments or dialogue losing some of its appeal. It can feel inconsistent with a lot of what the movie establishes at the start. Most of the beginning will feel lighter in tone, only later to shift by having a character get killed behind a door with a giant blood splatter.
Other moments end up making certain points seem irrelevant. Jaime will make a point of the Scarab not killing anyone at first, but then the movie shows his family nonchalantly killing soldiers by having a giant mech impale them. Some might not be too bothered by this, but many will definitely feel the shifts in tone and think that the movie really doesn’t know what kind of direction it wants to go with.
The movie also has a very strong emphasis on displaying aspects of Jaime’s Latino culture in various ways, more specifically Mexican heritage. It’s done well in how it helps reinforce the ideas of strong family bonds and going through hardships together, without being too distracted from the superhero story it’s trying to tell. There are a lot of scenes that use subtitles for when characters speak to each other in Spanish, which makes moments between them a little more authentic and deep.
When things get dire for Jaime and his family, there are exchanges between various family members that have a greater impact and solid delivery because they are said in Spanish or switch between languages mid-conversation. Unfortunately, some scenes feel like they’re missing subtitles when a character makes a statement or says a phrase in Spanish when previous scenes were subtitled. It doesn’t happen often, but it is noticeable when the movie follows that format early on.
Blue Beetle is a decent film that may or may not resonate with fans of DC comic book heroes. If you know the character and the source material for this version of Blue Beetle, then you will find enjoyable aspects of this movie. Jaime is a likable hero as Blue Beetle and his relationship with his family is at the heart of the story, which can stand out in good ways. Although not a terrible film, the missteps it has will stand out at one point or another, especially if you don’t like the tonal shifts or humor. This isn’t going to drastically change one’s stance on the quality of DC movies, but it can still be enjoyable to watch for those looking for a new superhero to follow.
What do you think about Blue Beetle? Are you going to watch this movie any time soon? What other DC heroes do you want to see get their own movie? Let us know your thoughts about everything down below in the comment section!
The movie has some heartfelt moments and good action in some places. There are parts where the humor may not work for everyone, especially in some of the more awkward or cheesy scenes. The villains are shallow but the main hero is likable. The Blue Beetle suit looks great in some scenes, and yet not that great in others. There’s a strong representation of Mexican heritage that compliments the main themes of the story, with some great dialogue between a few characters.
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