One of Marvel’s biggest issues is its tendency to produce a multitude of solo characters, especially in recent times. The universe now boasts such a vast array of heroes that keeping track of who’s where and what they’re doing has become quite a puzzle. Almost all the stories revolving around these new heroes revolve around the theme of “the end of the world,” which inevitably leads us, the viewers, to pose the question in the middle of the film: Where are the other heroes? What are they up to amidst all this destruction? I believe the same holds true for DC as well. With the introduction of new characters, this issue is only bound to escalate. Why did I mention these points? Because “Blue Beetle,” directed by Angel Manuel Soto, is a film that doesn’t succumb to this problem and, while not necessarily exceptional, manages to remain enjoyable by staying within its own boundaries.
Let’s briefly touch upon the plot… Jaime (Xolo Maridueña), while hoping for Jenny (Bruna Marquezine) to help him find a job, unintentionally becomes acquainted with her at his workplace. Jenny hands him the Scarab that will change his life; through this artifact, his company has been producing weapons. As Jenny attempts to thwart this and accidentally entangles Jaime and his family in the chaos, the Scarab handed over by Jenny to Jaime selects him as its carrier. Thus, the legend of Blue Beetle, a figure from the past, is revived within the young Jaime. However, others also desire the Scarab he carries on his back.
First and foremost, the fact that “Blue Beetle” is a DC film is evident even from the moment the hero wreaks havoc upon the city while discovering his powers. Sharing a self-discovery sequence akin to that of “The Flash,” “Blue Beetle” manages to execute certain aspects better than many other films. Primarily, it keeps the narrative modest in scale. By confining the story to a single city and constraining the ambitions of its antagonist, the film’s decision to largely remain within the city, and at times within neighborhoods, brings me satisfaction. The constant attempts of every newcomer to annihilate or conquer the world eventually become ludicrous, after all.
The film, although at times deviating from logic and occasionally resorting to clichés, overall presents an enjoyable and cohesive story. Moreover, it adeptly harnesses the nostalgia factor. I previously mentioned the issue of DC’s attempts to emulate Marvel in “The Flash.” Once again, in this film, they’ve felt the need to inject humor. However, as our family is Mexican, I didn’t find the comedic elements bothersome due to their enjoyable nature or the influence of established stereotypes. The notion of the sanctity of family, which the film aims to convey, is beautifully woven throughout the narrative. Xolo Maridueña, who portrays Blue Beetle, along with Damián Alcázar, George Lopez, Elpidia Carrillo, Adriana Barraza, and especially the captivating Belissa Escobedo, all deliver outstanding performances, breathing life into their roles as the family. The character of Jenny, played by Bruna Marquezine, who hasn’t experienced the concept of family, is also seamlessly integrated into the story.
Visually, the film is both pleasing and consistent. The effects are not cheap, yet they don’t overpower the senses. I do feel that the action scenes could have been more pronounced. Apart from that, the film rests comfortably in between exceptional and abysmal; it’s a highly enjoyable popcorn flick. It blends moments of laughter and tenderness, forming a sweet family-oriented action movie. There isn’t too much depth to dissect in the film. It lacks a profound storyline, adhering to the classic popcorn movie formula. Watch it, have fun, and return home.
In essence… “Blue Beetle” is a relatively straightforward superhero film that can be enjoyed whether you choose to watch it in the cinema or at home. The quality of superhero films is often determined by the quality of their villains. Well-constructed antagonists with well-defined motivations enhance the hero’s journey. The fact that Victoria Kord, portrayed by Susan Sarandon, does not transcend the city’s bounds with her aspirations helps prevent the film from becoming excessive. While the action aspect may fall a bit short, the film remains cohesive and enjoyable. It’s a lighthearted film worth indulging in with a bucket of popcorn.
Cast & Crew
director: Angel Manuel Soto
writers: Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer
starring: Xolo Maridueña, Damián Alcázar, George Lopez, Elpidia Carrillo, Adriana Barraza, Belissa Escobedo, Bruna Marquezine, Susan Sarandon
USA | 2023 | 127 MINUTES |