Blue Beetle

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.

I like to review the new DC action movie “Blue Beetle” in a percentage format. 50% of it works, while 50% doesn’t, and I can be specific why. The bright spots include it expressing its love for Latino culture with its positive messages about family, and using echos from such movies as “Tron,” “Machete,” “Alien,” and even MCU’s “Iron Man.” The weaknesses include the third act which rips off the “Iron Man” battle between Robert Downey, Jr. and Jeff Bridges, and the villain who has to follow the same rules as the heads of weapon companies.

We meet young Jaime Reyes (Xolo Mariduena, Victor from NBC’s “Parenthood”), who returns home in the Florida Keys from college, only to find some problems. His family is on the verge of losing their home and auto shop.

They consist of his loving parents Alberto (Damian Alcazar) and Rocio (Elpidia Carrillo), his spunky younger sister sister Milagro (Belissa Escobedo), his badass grandma Nana (Adriana Barraza), and his conspiracy theorist Uncle Rudy (George Lopez).

They didn’t want him to worry, but he’s willing to get any job to save his family.

Susan Sarandon plays the film’s villain Victoria Kord, who runs a successful company that deals with weapons. The O.M.A.C. (One Man Army Corps) requires an exoskeleton device that can turn people into man made soldiers, and she also has her bodyguard Conrad Carapax (Raoul Max Trujillo) as a test subject.

Her niece Jenny (Bruna Marquezine) hates what Victoria is doing, and she even helps Jaime find a job within the company. However, she steals the company’s latest weapon, hides it in a burger box, gives it Jaime, and tells him not to open it. Of course, he has to open the box, and he and his family see this weapon in the form of a blue beetle.

The device, known as the Scarab, clings to his face in an “Alien” sort of way. Only it doesn’t come out of his chest; it launches itself on his back, and turns him into a fighting machine with a blue Iron Man-like helmet, wings, and the entity Khaji-Da (voiced by Becky G) controlling it. Every time the suit turns on, his clothes get burned, and every time it turns off, he’s naked.

“Blue Beetle” has its heart in the right place regarding the family and its young hero, nicely played by Mariduena, who can transitioned from a kid actor to a young man in his 20s. I also liked the supporting work from Lopez, Marquezine, Barraza, and Alcazar. And it also has a lot of blue and purple colors regarding the lights from the suit and a secret lab with “Tron” lines.

But unlike the first “Shazam” movie, it sells itself short with all the obligatory elements regarding the evil company and the fights. It all becomes repetitive and predictable. For a fresh DC movie that can either be a comedy (“Shazam,” “The Flash,” etc.) or a drama (any “Batman” version), there has to be originality and patience-anything that we can identify with instead of predicting.

There are some nice qualities, but it’s more of a back-up plan if a better movie sells out. I can’t quite recommend it, but I do have confidence that it can do better in the future. Or maybe not, and I’m a bit too optimistic.

Rating: 2.5 out of 4.

This article was written by me with full support of the SAG-AFTRA and Writers Guild of America strikes.

Categories: Action, Adventure, Sci Fi, Thriller

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