Directed by: Ángel Manuel Soto
Distributed by: Warner Bros
Written by Alexander Reams
Few films have been in the unfortunate predicament that Ángel Manuel Soto’s “Blue Beetle” has found itself in, a perfect storm of ill will and lack of interest that was only cemented by the previous DC film release of “The Flash,” which made headlines for how much money it lost Warner Bros. all throughout the PR campaign for “Blue Beetle.” Expectations were lowered significantly as the weeks that led up to its release were inundated with articles that held court on the financial future of the film as if it were a signifier for the quality of “Blue Beetle.” Unfortunately, these speculations and “doom and gloom” articles seemed only to create a reality where “Blue Beetle” was destined to fail and it’s unfortunate because it’s actually a win for DC.
“Blue Beetle” is very quick to separate itself from the other DC properties of yesteryear (the Snyderverse) and appropriately so. DC head honcho James Gunn has been open about Jaime Reyes/Blue Beetle (Xolo Maridueña) being the first character in his DCU, but where the movie stands in the timeline is very murky. Jaime Reyes is a recent college graduate who moves home to help his family from their latest eviction notice, in the midst of that, he becomes bonded with a beetle-shaped scarab and very quickly the film changes its tone. The character development that was so important to the early scenes is all but forgotten, traded for action sequences that elicit either crickets or excitement. The unevenness of “Beetle” is anchored by a great turn by Xolo Maridueña as the titular beetle. He has the magnetism necessary and his character is fleshed out through his interactions with the brilliantly cast family. Comprised of veteran performers like George Lopez (Uncle Rudy), Damián Alcázar (Alberto Reyes), Elpidia Carrillo (Rocio Reyes), and Adriana Barraza (Nana Reyes) each member provides added emotional depth for Jaime, and add a sincere element of Mexican culture to the big screen.
The similarities to another superhero origin story become uncanny by the final act, with a final battle that is another guy, in a super suit, with the same powers as the hero. It feels tried and true because it is the industry standard for a superhero origin story. “Blue Beetle” does well in its earlier moments, especially any scenes with members of the Reyes family; their dynamic was the best product of the film. However, once the scarab is introduced, it’s as if the suits walked in and took over. A complaint that has been brought up more than once in this summer of critical and financial flops, and it looks like “Blue Beetle” has joined them.
“Blue Beetle” Trailer