I’ve developed a love/hate relationship with the DCEU as of late. I was one of those who enjoyed what Zack Snyder was doing with Man of Steel and Batman v Superman and was interested to see how things progressed. I also thoroughly enjoyed Aquaman (mostly Jason Momoa), but I’d be lying if I said I knew anything about the sequel. But recent films such as The Flash and Black Adam have left me wishing for more from this franchise. I was ready to write off DC live-action films, but with Blue Beetle coming out a few months after The Flash, I thought I’d give DC one more chance.
The story of Blue Beetle revolves around Jaime Reyas and his family. After graduating college, Jaime has returned home to Palmera City and, after a family reunion, learns that his family is on the brink of losing their home. Jaime and his younger sister Milagro get odd jobs, including a job at the mansion of the CEO of Kord Industries, Victoria Kord. After some shenanigans, Jaime is fired but meets Jenny Kord, who offers him an interview for a job with Kord Industries. While the interview never happens, Jaime instead acquires an alien scarab (which is blue) that bonds with his body, turning him into the superhero Blue Beetle. Now, with Victoria and her bodyguard Ignacio Carapax hunting the Beetle, Jaime and his family have to do whatever it takes to stop Victoria, save their home, and uncover the mysteries of the scarab.
While nothing new in the superhero genre, this story was still a fun time. There was a steady increase in stakes, with the final fight feeling like a satisfying end to the film (unlike The Flash). While the story was a little slow to begin, the overall pacing was decent, with the film knowing when to take a minute to deliver its emotional moments. On the flip side, there are a lot of cool action sequences that weren’t just limited to fight scenes. There were a handful of sequences where Jaime was discovering what the scarab can do, and while that’s to be expected in an origin movie, it was executed well here. Overall, the story, while enjoyable, won’t stick with me for that long. Instead, what I will remember about Blue Beetle are the excellent characters that were the film’s highlight.
The highlight of Blue Beetle is undoubtedly the characters. This cast was able to turn a relatively generic plot into something that I had a decent amount of fun with. Xolo Mariduena, as Jaime, was stellar, and I was with him through all of the ups and downs in the film (there are some pretty big emotional downs). Bruna Marquezine as Jenny Kord also put in an excellent performance, and her chemistry with Xolo kept me invested in the love plot that is in a lot of these origin stories. The Reyes family, while initially thinking they were a bunch of dicks, have a certain charm that once you understand, you start to appreciate. This also plays into one of the main themes of the film, being family, both biological and the family that you make. The standouts from this crazy group are George Lopez as the paranoid Rudy Reyes and Adriana Barraza as the ex-revolutionary Nana Reyes (I didn’t expect to see an old lady with a minigun).
While I did enjoy the main cast, I was left a little underwhelmed by the villains. Victoria Kord (Susan Sarandon) was your typical evil head of a corporation that I’ve seen more times than I can count. Her evil plan boils down to using alien technology to create super soldiers and take over the world (super original). Her bodyguard, Carapax (Raoul Trujillo), is a little better, but he becomes a villain with the same powers as Jaime. Granted, he does have more of an emotional arc than the straight-evil Victoria, but it was nothing I hadn’t seen before. The bland villains didn’t detract much from my enjoyment, but I wish these origin stories would stop having evil versions of the hero as the big bad.
Being a modern superhero film, there’s gonna be a lot of CGI, and for the most part, it’s pretty decent. The CGI for the scarab, when it bonds with Jaime, was something straight out of a body horror film and was surprising to see here. The suit itself is also consistently good-looking, both during big fight scenes and calmer moments. The suit-up animation is also done well, even if it leads to Jaime burning through money buying new clothes (the clothes get burned off when the suit goes on). The city’s look is also very nice, with a futuristic vibe and a lot of neon. There’s even a throwback to the original version of Blue Beetle (who was Ted Kord) with retro suits and gadgets appearing in the latter half of the film.
It wasn’t all great, though, because the final fight CGI wasn’t that good. Maybe it’s because they were running out of time or didn’t have the budget, but Carapax’s final form looked bad. It looked like a character from a mid-2000s video game and just looked like a mess. It’s a shame because the rest of the film had decent to great visual effects, but this final fight did not look good. Hopefully, this film gets a sequel so they can provide Blue Beetle with a villain that doesn’t look like they shop at Hot Topic.
Overall, I enjoyed my time with Blue Beetle. Despite its generic story and mixed CGI, the characters provided enough enjoyment that the flaws didn’t seem as big. This is one of the best films DC has put out over recent years, and I hope this cast returns in whatever James Gunn is planning over at DC. One thing is for sure: Blue Beetle has given me a little hope for the future of DC live-action films.
Did you see Blue Beetle? What did you think? Do you want to see a sequel? Let us know in the comments where we can discuss all things DC.