- Published: Wednesday, 16 August 2023 11:20
- Written by Lupe R Haas
To be honest, the BLUE BEETLE trailers didn’t completely sell the DC comic book adaptation although I was excited to see the first DC Latino superhero on the big screen. Thankfully, BLUE BEETLE is a huge surprise with an emotional core that drives the action rather than the other way around. While you can’t avoid your standard genre clichés, it does break them such as having the family members as sidekicks rather than merely emotional props.
College graduate Jaime Reyes (Xolo Maridueña) is inadvertently chosen by an alien scarab to be its symbiotic host, giving him superpowers as the Blue Beetle.
Blue Beetle is the first Latino superhero from a DC Comic to be adapted into a movie. Cobra Kai’s Maridueña plays Jaime Reyes with a supporting cast that includes George Lopez, Susan Sarandon, Harvey Guillén (What We Do In The Shadows), Brazilian actress Bruna Marquezine, Academy Award nominee, Adriana Barraza, Mayans MC’s Raul Max Trujillo and Becky G provides the voice of the alien AI.
BLUE BEETLE was greenlit as an HBO Max movie, but the DCEU film was deemed worthy of a theatrical run, and now we know why. The film is far from perfect with questionable visuals at the start, but this wholesome superhero comedy will have you cheering, laughing and crying. The three essentials needed for a great time at the movies.
Written by Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer and directed by Angel Manuel Soto, BLUE BEETLE borrows many superhero tropes but also breaks with the clichés. In our interview with the director, Soto says nostalgia drove the style of the film. The influences include Kaiju movies, a retro sound with a synth wave soundtrack and you’ll definitely feel some Iron Man vibes without the millionaire playboy personality.
Maridueña is a stand-out as Jaime Reyes which is no surprise if you've watched Cobra Kai. He brings a very human energy to the role, and he exudes an innocence that endears you to the character right away. BLUE BEETLE should catapult his career from here on out. Lopez, Barraza, and Belissa Escobedo (HOCUS POCUS 2) also steal the show with their high-energy performances.
BLUE BEETLE succeeds in breaking with the formula in many aspects. The usual superhero tropes include being an orphan, struggling with keeping his identity secret from their loved ones and/or his sidekicks are friends or mentors who train characters in their new roles. None of that applies here. The family is all in on the secret and they become the sidekicks. Lopez is the tech-savvy Uncle and “Nana,” the grandmother has a few secrets up her huipils (embroidered) blouse. The family members play a big role against the villains.
The weakest part of the story is the villains. Susan Sarandon is miscast and her muscle, Conrad Carapax, the Indestructible Man (Trujillo) are generic antagonists. Carapax’s arc is mapped out from the start which leads to a predictable outcome.
Although the fight scenes between Carapax and the Blue Beetle are an exciting part of the movie. The practical Blue Beetle suit with the CGI enhancements is stellar as are the battle scenes.
However, the visual effects at the start of the movie were questionable with a low CGI quality to some aerial footage but luckily the rest of the film doesn’t suffer the same issue.
For Latinos, particularly Mexican-Americans, BLUE BEETLE captures the essence of who we are which may inspire a few tears. The family dynamic feels very real and the references will have audiences roaring with laughter such as including El Chapulin Colorado in the mix. BLUE BEETLE will also have you shedding some tears with a few emotional moments so be prepared for some ugly crying.
Most importantly, the writer and director provide a representation that we can be proud of. BLUE BEETLE is the BLACK PANTHER for Latinos. Although there is no advanced society in the BLUE BEETLE, the family’s constant message to Jaime is perseverance in the face of adversity. They’re in financial straits, and luck is not on their side, but the father often reminds Jaime that “animo” will get them through it. Basically, things are tough but that means you fight harder together. That’s a message that should hit anyone deep.
BLUE BEETLE is the perfect film for the entire family.
BLUE BEETLE is in movie theaters on Friday, August 18.