Blue Beetle (A PopEntertainment.com Movie Review)
BLUE BEETLE (2023)
Starring Xolo Maridueña,Bruna Marquezine, Adriana Barraza, Damián Alcázar, Raoul Max Trujillo, Susan Sarandon, George Lopez, Elpidia Carrillo, Belissa Escobedo, Harvey Guillén, Jorge Jimenez, Eyra Aguero Joubert, Gabriella Ortiz, Vicente Ydrach, Modesto Lacen, Oshún Ramirez, Brianna Lewis, Tahj Vaughans, Dante Gonzalez-Abreu and the voice of Becky G.
Screenplay by Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer.
Directed by Ángel Manuel Soto.
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. 127 minutes. Rated PG-13.
I’m not going to lie. I’ve never heard of the character of Blue Beetle before this film. When I first heard of the title, I thought it may be a movie about a Volkswagen. I asked my nephew, who is more up to date on comic book characters, what I should know about Blue Beetle, and he explained that the version of the character in the film (who is apparently the second Blue Beetle in the comic saga) is “just your normal teenage ‘relatable’ superhero.”
And yes, this Blue Beetle is sort of like a DC version of Spider-Man with a different insect and more alien tech. Beyond the Spider-Man connection, Blue Beetle also has certain connections to Iron Man (the high-tech armor suit) and Venom (symbiotic connection to the alien).
Still, I’ve got to admit, while there was nothing all that unique about the overall story of Blue Beetle – other than the fact that it is strongly grounded in Hispanic culture – the movie was a whole lot of fun. In fact, it was probably the most purely enjoyable DC film since the similarly low-key Shazam! (The first Shazam! movie that is, the second one kind of stunk.)
After the recent calamitous popular and critical crash and burn of the much higher profile The Flash (which I have to admit, I mostly liked),the new DC needed a low-key charmer like this to get back on track.
And speaking of low-key charmers, the film certainly scored one in casting Xolo Maridueña – previously best known as one of the lead characters in the series Cobra Kai – as the hero. Maridueña has the type of every-kid sense of wonder which is necessary for a character like this to work. As his uncle says, “He’s like Superman of Metropolis or the Flash of Central City – but not as good.”
He is also surrounded with an interesting and varied family unit, particularly Adriana Barraza as a surprisingly able Nana and George Lopez adding comic relief as the conspiracy theory spouting uncle.
In lots of ways, Blue Beetle is typical superhero fare – the alien trinket with unimaginable power, the evil corporation headed by a megalomaniac tycoon (Susan Sarandon) desperately trying to get her hands on the item, no matter who it hurts. (She often says the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, even though she is personally never one of the few making these sacrifices.)
However, it is not the story that makes Blue Beetle so good. It’s just so upbeat and good humored that it’s hard not to embrace, with enough off-the-beaten-path quirks to capture even someone who is getting a bit of superhero fatigue – which can be said about a lot of us at this point.
Blue Beetle is a fine reminder of why the word “comic” is part of the term “comic book.” After way too much of the DC movie universe has been dark, moody and morose – we’re looking at you Zack Snyder – it’s nice for some of these stories to just be good old-fashioned fun.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2023 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: August 18, 2023.