Blue Beetle

Blue Beetle
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Blue Beetle: A Refreshing Review

If a few days ago someone had asked me whether I’d enjoy “Blue Beetle” or anticipate Chuck Norris as the new Secretary of Agriculture, I would’ve favored the latter. The superhero genre seems to be in crisis: Marvel wavers, DC is grappling with Zack Snyder’s DCEU aftermath, and movies like Ant-Man 3 and The Flash hardly inspire confidence. Introducing a relatively unknown superhero like Blue Beetle, particularly in Europe, seemed a gamble. Especially given its targeted Latino audience, a lack of established stars, and a novice director. Surprisingly, the result is a delightful spectacle.

“Blue Beetle” centers on Jaime, a young man who discovers his family’s dire financial state upon returning from his studies. An alien artifact unexpectedly binds with him, granting him a near-indestructible suit, flight, and weapon creation abilities. Naturally, this draws the attention of villains, especially the CEO of the formidable Kord company. Jaime doesn’t yearn to be a world savior; he merely wishes to protect his family. Greater causes might wait.

Sound naive? It’s intended to. Director Ángel Manuel Soto ensures “Blue Beetle” fits within DC’s universe, referencing iconic heroes like Superman and Batman. However, it primarily stands alone, avoiding shoehorned appearances from characters like Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman. It channels the traditional, almost old-school comic vibe. Comparatively, our Latino hero resembles a budget-friendly Iron Man: a challenging suit, corporate adversaries, and a climactic battle against a similarly-equipped foe.

Yet, the emphasis on Jaime’s family and his ordinary background differentiates it. Jaime’s reluctance to embrace heroism, only doing so when his loved ones are threatened, mirrors the trajectory of Raimi’s Spider-Man. The family dynamic is pivotal; Jaime is surrounded by relatable, often exasperating family members (George Lopez epitomizes this dichotomy). “Blue Beetle’s” nod to genre classics like Iron Man and Spider-Man is evident, but it successfully crafts an engaging narrative.

On a constrained budget, Ángel Manuel Soto constructs a visually appealing world. While it might appear modest compared to grander comic adaptations, it’s a testament to Soto’s creativity. The action sequences strike a balance between CGI and practical stunts, thanks to stunt legend JJ Perry’s influence. It’s gratifying to see superheroes physically combat foes rather than indulge in grand aerial spectacles. The cast, led by Xolo Maridueña, delivers. Raoul Max Trujillo is effectively menacing, though Susan Sarandon seems somewhat out of place.

I’m pleasantly surprised by “Blue Beetle.” The movie leans into a traditional approach, reminding us of the character-driven essence of superhero films. Drawing inspiration from established classics, it offers engaging action and relatable characters, easily becoming one of DC’s better offerings in recent years. One can only wish it had arrived earlier during Warner’s universe-building phase.

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