Blue Beetle Movie Review

Image Credit: IMDb.com

Movie: Blue Beetle

Production Companies: Warner Bros Pictures, DC Studios, The Safran Company

Director: Angel Manuel Soto

Producers: John Rickard, Zev Forman

Scriptwriters: Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer

Main Cast: Xolo Mariduena, Bruna Marquezine, Susan Surandon

Release Date: 18th August 2023

Running Time: 127 minutes

Certificate: 12A

Introduction:

DC’s new rebooted universe, which is to be overseen by James Gunn, begins with an disappointingly ordinary flick as it introduces the character of Blue Beetle for the first time; if only it wasn’t so unremarkable.

Synopsis:

Recent University graduate Jaime Reyes (played well by Xolo Mariduena) returns home to his Latino family in the fictional city ‘Palmera City’ only to come in contact with an alien relic known as ‘The Scarab’. His means of power involve the item bestowing upon him a suit of armor around his body and the subsequent abilities that come with it (things such as arm canons and beetle-like legs attached to his back). However, a villainous power hungry tycoon in the shape of Susan Sarandon soon comes looking for the item and it is up to Jaime to save himself and his family.

Analysis:

What a worrying shame it is to say that James Gunn’s new era is off to a rocky start with director Angel Manuel Soto not able to make most of the project. Most of the cast, except for Susan Sarandon, are rather well played and perfectly watchable, but it has to be said that she may well be one of the worst superhero villains I’ve ever seen. Her goal in the film is to create advanced robots to protect people (think Robocop on steroids) and essentially replace police and promise a better and safer world. What are the odds that her intentions are not entirely for the greater good? Yep, you guessed it, evil (*tries to act surprised*). To me, the whole thing honestly played out like glorified power rangers and I honestly don’t know what to make of that.

There is a moment towards the end, without wishing to give away too much, where we learn something about one of the villainous characters that is only touched on very briefly that would have given the film significantly more emotional impact and darkness had it had more time and focus. I found myself all of a sudden getting rather annoyed at this because it seemed to be a very good idea that was wasted, asking myself the question: ‘that actually works rather well, why haven’t you explored that more?

I honestly sat there in disbelief at just how by the numbers Sarandon was, a paper thin villain who you can see straight through and an evil tycoon character we’ve seen a thousand times before. A phoned in, picking up the cheque performance. Out of all the cast however, George Lopez is a standout, having the absolute time of his live as the crackpot conspiracy theorist uncle who is the source of most if not all the gags and humor and turns out to be the most energetic screen presence the film has, and does give life to it. The grandma character has some good laughs as well. The film also has nice messages about family and a good Latino representation (this film marking DC’s first live action Latino character) to it as well which was nice.

That is the main issue with the film though, it is all just so… ordinary. You truly long for the days of ‘The Dark Knight’ or ‘Wonder Woman’ and now we have this, you wonder what went wrong? Everything is just a mere footnote in comparison and nothing (except for ‘The Batman’) has come even remotely close to matching them. Not only that but the studio’s very recent track record of releasing flop after flop after flop with such titles as ‘Black Adam’, ‘Shazam: Fury of the Gods’ and just last month with ‘The Flash’ was an indication of how this was going to go (all critical and financial disasters). Let’s address the somewhat obvious elephant in the room, yes, this is better than ‘The Flash’ but that ain’t saying much. No wonder a fresh start is coming (although we have no idea how it will turn out and after this, I’m not filled with hope).

There are positives; the fight sequences are handled efficiently and a decent level of physicality is thrown in there. The director has recently stated that he looked to Gareth Evan’s ‘The Raid’ (perhaps the best action film ever made) for inspiration. I suppose I saw some decent choreography but nothing even remotely approaching that unbeatable level I’m afraid to say. There are some surprisingly impressive physical effects in there too; when he transforms into the Blue Beetle for the first time its almost reminiscent of old school body horror films.

In the end, despite being a slight improvement over recent films, I walked away from Blue Beetle feeling underwhelmed. It just doesn’t really seem to go anywhere and just offers more of the same. I hope Gunn can sort everything out…

Overall Rating: 5/10 – Average

Target Audience: 8+

Content Warning: Violence, Threat, Language

Recommendation: No