Whether in MCU or DC, whenever there is a new superhero film with a teenage protagonist (mostly belonging to Gen X and Millennials), there is enthusiasm gushing through every nerve of my body. And that becomes obvious because most of the people will connect to these characters as they fulfill the fantasy of having a superpower and fighting against the evils in the world. Marvel has Spiderman and Ms Marvel, and both were incredible. Similarly in DC we have Shazam and Flash. And now, DC adds Blue Beetle to their list.
Blue Beetle or Jaime Reyes, portrayed by Xolo Maridueña, stands out as DC’s inaugural Latino superhero. The character emerges within the James Gunn-helmed DC Extended Universe, making a stylish entry through a film that strives to overcome the prevailing superhero fatigue. Despite its flaws, this film manages to soar to impressive heights.
Jaime is a captivating recent graduate who returns to his hometown following his studies. However, he grapples with the arduous task of finding employment and ultimately ends up working as a servant alongside his sister, Milagro, at the opulent mansion owned by Victoria (played by Susan Sarandon). Victoria is the proprietor of Kord Industries, the very company where Jamie has his fateful encounter with Jennefer, or Jenny, Kord (embodied by Bruna Marquezine). Jenny’s father, Ted, was the former CEO of this corporation. Susan adeptly portrays the manipulative and malevolent tycoon, carrying her character with seamless finesse.
Victoria harbors ambitions of resurrecting the OMAC (One Man Army Corps) project, which had been abandoned years ago by her own brother due to its potential for grave harm. Meanwhile, Jenny is determined to thwart her aunt’s progress in bringing this perilous weapon to fruition, as it poses a significant threat to humanity. As the narrative unfurls, fate takes a twist when Jaime inadvertently forms a connection with a biotechnological alien scarab, known as “Khaji-Da.”
Director Angel Manuel Soto, along with writer Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer, constructs a world where much of the plot follows a predictable trajectory due to the formulaic screenplay. The narrative features a protagonist without a clear purpose in life who eventually becomes entangled with a transformative gadget, leading to his emergence as a superhero. Along the way, antagonists with malevolent intentions seek to exploit the situation to bring about global destruction. Interwoven into this are the familiar elements of a burgeoning romantic connection.
The scene where a baddie tells Jamie that “Your love for your family is your biggest weakness” serves as a conspicuous indicator that our main character will ultimately defy this notion. Consequently, as a viewer you already know what will happen next.
The film’s true highlights are undoubtedly the Reyes family. They embody humor, unwavering support, and a demonstration of the potency of love as the ultimate force. Even amidst grave circumstances, particularly in the climactic moments, their responses remain enigmatic. Notably, Jamie’s spirited grandmother, affectionately known as ‘Nana’ and portrayed by Adriana Barraza, stands out. Observing her brandishing a vibrant machine-gun, one can’t help but desire a similarly audacious and whimsical grandmother in their own life.
The action sequences are skillfully captured with dynamic low and wide angles, complemented by fluid pans. However, the cinematographer, Pawel Pogorzelski, maintains a rather pedestrian approach throughout the remainder of the plot.
Adding to the film’s visual appeal are the striking and robust designs of both the superhero and the villain’s suits. These outfits exude a sense of sleekness and resilience, notably shining in meticulously choreographed pivotal action scenes. Regrettably, the quality of the visual effects wavers, remaining impressive solely within these specific moments. This inconsistency mirrors the film’s soundtrack, which at certain junctures becomes overly loud to the point of evoking associations with the intensity of a virtual game like PUB-G.
As the narrative draws to a close, subtle hints are dropped, suggesting the potential for a sequel to Blue Beetle, which is now available at theaters near you.