Movie Review | Blue Beetle (2023)

Blue Beetle has been without a doubt one of the most anticipated superhero films of the year. Directed by Ángel Manuel Soto (known for The Farm, 2015) and written by Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer (known Miss Bala, 2019), the film follows the journey of “Jaime Reyes,” played by the talented Xolo “Cobra Kai” Maridueña. Xolo discovers a strange blue device in the form of a scarab (a dung beetle). As this mystical alien device from history takes control of his body, Jaime must learn to harness his newfound powers and become the hero that his neighborhood needs.

It will become relevant later that Reyes’ all-Spanish family is poor and about to get kicked out of their house. He just needs a job to help pay the bills, which leads him to “Jenny Kord” (Bruno Marquezine). His crazy-eccentric uncle (George Lopez) and other family members constantly cackle at each other in loud Spanish diatribes over all sorts of things. We are forced to see it time and again.

As the Cobra Kai franchise is sputtering to a halt, we see Xolo Maridueña shine fairly brightly as Jaime Reyes, perfectly capturing the struggles and complexities of a young hero thrust into an extraordinary set of circumstances where he is up against the corporate world and its villain(s), one of which is Raoul Max Trujillo as “Carapal” — (honestly, Trujillo's mere face on camera is about as serious as this film gets, and perhaps the best thing). If you haven't picked up already, the entire film is a stylized and colorful rant against corporate greed, particularly as it stands against one particular demographic.

Marquezine, playing the role of “Jenny Kord,” brings an okay dynamic to the film. Her chemistry with Maridueña is strong, adding to the storyline. But emotional depth is not the problem here—having too much of it is. Becky G does the voice-work as “Khaji-Da,” the scarab/suit’s female voice that gives Jaime his powers. 

Other supporting cast of Blue Beetle includes Damián Alcázar, Adriana Barraza, Belissa Escobedo, Elpidia Carrillo, and Susan Sarandon (this last one especially contributing by her very presence). But “supporting cast” they really are not since the family keeps showing up and trying to entertain us as if we are six-year-olds all throughout the movie.

Ángel Manuel Soto's direction is a standout aspect of the movie in terms of craft. He blends action, drama, and comedy, and straddles the line between a half-Transformers/half-comic book-esque work geared toward Hispanic families. Soto successfully brings the world of Blue Beetle to life on the big screen, staying true to the character's comic book origins while adding his own unique flair. But it’s too much. 

Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer's script passes, and thankfully (as with most comic movies), we don’t need surprises and plot twists to keep audiences guessing. It’s all about the cheap thrills. We acknowledge that Dunnet-Alcocer balances the superhero elements with the personal journey of Jaime Reyes well enough. Although, we are bombarded with sappy family humor from loudmouths like George Lopez. Who really likes George Lopez? He is as annoying as a fly at a Fourth of July picnic. The assaults the audience gets of the family nagging at each other, and later, nana wielding a laser machine gun toward the film’s end is every bit as bad. These have the effect of making the film feel longer than it actually is (although it does run for some 127 minutes).

Visually, Blue Beetle is a treat for the eyes of all. The special effects are top-notch, seamlessly blending with the practical effects to create a visually enticing world. The fight sequences are nice to watch, showcasing the true power of Blue Beetle—this, of course, is thanks to CGI.

Overall, Blue Beetle is a forgettable - and annoying - entry into the DC superhero genre. With its talented cast and diverse storytelling in the world of cinema, those pleased by it will love it while the annoying “sidekick comedy” reliance will quickly become unwelcome, making the rest of us want to turn it off or walk out of the room.

And while we get some fair performances, most of these were insulting to the Spanish cast of actors behind them. It consists of old discrimination seat-belted into a comic movie. This was Sarandon’s most phoned in work yet, as she represented a one-dimensional, heartless, power-monger as leader of the KORD Corporation. Mind you, this is not the sort of superhero origins movie that is supposed to tie in with other characters. It is a reliance on smudging stereotypes and colorful fights with technology, as if we didn’t have enough of that. It is not the best work by Warner Brothers.