'Blue Beetle' (2023) Review: New Face, Same Old Story
This year alone has seen four superhero movies released, with two more on the way. Now, with a new character to introduce ‘Blue Beetle’ aims to stand out in a year packed with heroics. On one hand, ‘Blue Beetle’ succeeds, with a relatable character whose Mexican-American culture provides meaningful representation of an underrepresented group in superhero fiction. On the other hand, the film struggles to hold its own against the moniker of just another superhero movie.
‘Blue Beetle’ has a better time with character than it does with plot. Xolo Maridueña plays Jaime Reyes, a recent college graduate with aspirations to lift his immigrant family out of poverty, and save their home and family business from the scourge of gentrification. It’s strong standing for a protagonist, and Maridueña gives Jaime the sense of wide eyed innocence that endears you to him. Much like the ancient alien artifact that clings to Jaime.
Once Jaime gets bonded to the super scarab, the movie starts to feel like a mash up of comic book films of the last 15 years. It’s a little bit Iron Man, a little bit Ant-Man, a little bit Venom, and a little bit Spider-Man. The stakes are just high enough to feel personal to Jaime and his family, but the first time superhero doesn’t exactly have the fate of the world in his hands.
When the film keeps the focus on the family, it’s at its strongest. The cast is solid with George Lopez as a clear stand out, and some genuine emotional beats that the movie more than earns. The fact that these elements break through the noise of been there done that superhero fare, is a testament to the writing and performances.
Despite being old hat, many of the superhero antics in ‘Blue Beetle’ are admittedly thrilling. As Jaime rockets into the stratosphere, feelings of vertigo are felt in the audience, and the power fantasy told through the eyes of the child of immigrants does wonders to elevate an old story, through a new perspective. It doesn’t break the mold by any means, but ‘Blue Beetle’ deserves praise for its strengths, so much so that it gets a pass for its weaknesses.
Rating: Half Price
Note: While I appreciate you reading this review, movies are still incredibly subjective. If you think you might enjoy yourself, I encourage everyone to support the cinema industry as much as they can. Stay safe, and remember, life’s too short for bad movies.