With the recent string superheroes films bombing worse than Arthur ‘bomber’ Harris over Dresden the release of a new film with a largely unknown character, the first for a Latino led superhero film, would seem to be tempting fate and with a new DC supremo taking over the odds would seem to be stacked against Blue Beetle the last film (bar the continually delayed release of Aquaman 2) under the old banner. And yet Blue Beetle, against the odds, comes up trumps. (a phrase that Stormy Daniels must be only too familiar) .
Blue Beetle is yet another origin story where college eager optimistic graduate Jaime (Xolo Mariduena) arrives back home with his freshly printed degree all ready to climb the employment ladder only to find himself reduced to taking a job scraping chewing gum from under the table of the home of Victoria Kord (Susan Sarandion) Head of Kord Industries and already in possession of a magic carab , the blue beetle of the title, that looks like a chintzy ornate crab from a tourist shop and yet possesses great power that she intends to harness for military might and massive financial gain.
It goes against everything that her niece Jenny ( Bruna Marquezine) stands for and aware of the scarab and what her Aunt intends to do with it smuggles out the scarab out of the company’s HQ in a burger box that she places in the hands of Jaime who waits in the company’s reception area where he waits hoping to get a job opportunity. Taking it home to his close knit family, and despite Jenny having warned him not to open the burger box, he does of course open it and finds perhaps the best toy ever found in a Happy Meal. Except here rather than a bit of misshapen tat it’s a piece of extra-terrestrial high tech equipment that inhabits Jaime’s body in a kind of Alien face hugger type way before burying into his body by another way in one many funny quips that lighten the mood of the superhero genre that often take themselves too seriously. But with new found power comes great responsibility and here it’s to prevent Victoria and her sidekick Carapax (Raoul Max Trujillo), looking like ‘First Dates’ maitre’d Fred Sirieix gone rogue, getting their hands on Jaime whose alter ego is now the Blue Beetle.
For the first time in a long while here’s a superhero that has a lot going for it – none of the now mundane multiverse cobblers, no tiresome time travel . Instead an origin story that admittedly plunders Iron man and Spiderman with nods to others films that include Robocop 2, Venom and even Terminator (Jaime doesn’t want his machine to kill anyone). And though there’s a romance here it’s a film that focuses on the close knit dynamic of Hispanic families and though some of those family members are underwritten, George Lopez as Uncle Rudy and Adriana Barraza as a gun totting ex revolutionary Grandma are immense fun. This families affection and concern for each other feels authentic and .Sarandon needs more screen time in a not especially interesting villain and her back story of bitterness at losing the CEO job to her brother is worth exploring further but Mariduena and Marquezine (looking a little like Megan Markle but classier and likeable) are an engaging and on-screen couple.
Written by Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer and directed by Angel Manuel Soto they have introduced sly commentary on the US Latino experience – the lack of economic opportunity, a raid on their home, racial inequality and there’s even a momentary reference to child soldiers! Whilst Blue Beetle is serviceable rather than exceptional and the action does eventually boil down to the inevitable two CGI characters battering one another it’s the films humour and humanity that make the film.
End credit scenes – Yes (x2)
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Here’s the Blue beetle trailer…..