Review of action fantasy with a Latino superhero, ‘Blue Bettle’

August 25, 2023 Mario Bautista 462 views

Beetle1AS if we don’t already have a glut of superhero movies, DC now comes with yet another origin story, “Blue Beetle”. The first Blue Beetle character, Dan Garrett, gained superpowers from a special vitamin in 1939. This was in comics form and as a radio serial.

DC Comics took over in the second Blue Beetle now with a lead character named Ted Kord, who has no superpowers but used various scientific devices to help him fight crime.

The third Blue Bettle is Jaime Reyes, a Hispanic teenager who uses a magical scarab (a beetle that is considered sacred in Egypt) that gives him superpowers. He became a member of the Teen Titans and later given a reboot in 2011.

This is the character used in the new movie that features a largely Latino cast and directed by a Latino director, Angel Manuel Soto. It is the 14th movie DCEU or DC Extended Universe.

The movie starts with Jaime (Hispanic actor Xolo Mariduena in his big movie break after doing series like “Parenthood” and “Cobra Kai”) returning to his family in Palmera City after finishing pre-law in Gothan Law U. He finds his family facing so many financial problems.

He got work in the big company called Kord, managed by Victoria Kord (Susan Sarandon), who doesn’t get along well with her niece, Jenny (played by the very beautiful Latina actress Bruna Marquezine, a Brazilian actress who has made many local telenovelas in her country).

Jaime sees Jenny arguing with her aunt and he intervenes. Victoria gets mad and fires him, but Jenny tells him to meet with her the next day at the Kord Tower for a job opportunity.

Jenny discovers that Victoria has found the magical alien blue scarab and is using her for nefarious projects to create a super soldier. She steals it but the security people are alerted and to evade them, she hands the scarab in a burger box to Jaime for safekeeping and orders him not to open it.

Jaime takes the scarab home and opens it. It gets activated and attaches itself to him. Jenny tells him it’s a magical entity that has chosen Jaime to be its host, taking over his body and transforming him into a superhero who can fly and morph into various things to fight evildoers. But we’re not told why he is the one chosen by the scarab.

We have already seen so many superhero films, both DC and Marvel, and we won’t be surprised if some viewers already feel superhero fatigue. This must be the reason why the most recent superheroes like “The Flash” and “Shazam 2” are not that immensely successful. Unlike before,we just don’t feel so excited anymore about forthcoming superhero flicks.

We don’t think “Blue Beetle” is not anything that is vastly different from other superhero flicks, but we honestly found it very amusing. For one thing, it gives Hispanic representation in the superhero universe.

It also has a lot of hilarious scenes, well executed action set pieces, and a story that is endearingly focused on a loving family dynamic that you get to appreciate even if you’re already sick and tired of other superhero flicks.

The actors chosen to be the boisterous Reyes family members of Jaime are all given their own fun moments to shine: George Lopez as his goofy Uncle Rudy, Damian Alcazar as his dad Alberto, Elpidia Carillo as his mom Rocio, and most specially Adriana Barraza as his feisty, aggressive grandma. The movie really tries to develop the characters and their connections to one another.

And of course, Susan Sarandon is so effective as the main antagonist and the Oscar winner seems to be having a blast playing bringing a steely edge to her scheming and heartless villain this time.

Also featured as a voice actress is a Pinay named Becky G who is the voice of the entity that possesses Jaime. At one point, she even speaks in Tagalog saying “Walang anuman”.

Xolo is a terrific young leading man with lots of charisma and he can easily surpass the likes of other Latino actors in Hollywood like Noah Centineo, Diego Boneta, Anthony Ramos and even older Latinos like Diego Luna, Gael Garcia Bernal and Jesse Metcalfe.

And don’t leave the theatre right away as there’s a mid-end credits preview with Jenny’s dad, Ted Kord, who everyone thought is dead, shown talking in his laboratory to inform Jenny that he is still alive. This hints of a sequel, but of course, it all depends if “Blue Beetle” would be a blockbuster at the box office for it to merit a part 2.