An alien scarab chooses Jaime Reyes to be its symbiotic host, bestowing the recent college graduate with a suit of armor that’s capable of extraordinary powers, forever changing his destiny as he becomes the superhero known as Blue Beetle. (from IMDB.com)
It’s hard to discuss a DC Comics film without dwelling on the utter trainwreck that the cinematic universe has become. But with the entire DC movie-verse full-on reboot looming, perhaps there may be a little hope on the horizon. In the meantime, two final DC Comics films remain, the Aquaman sequel, due out at the end of the year, and a much more lesser-known hero in Blue Beetle.
Blue Beetle seems like something new on the surface. The movie is positively steeped in Mexican culture, giving the story a much different tone than one expects from a superhero movie. Our hero here is a reluctant one, named Jaime, whose interest in a wealthy young woman lands a magical scarab of alien origin virtually in his lap. But when the fresh-faced college graduate comes face-to-face with a parasitic supersuit, we find him surrounded – often intrusively – by his family. When you start to think about it, Blue Beetle begins to have serious Iron Man vibes (one villain even kind of resembles Whiplash from Iron Man 2), with a dash of The Incredibles, and a hearty side of silly. His family tends to flip-flop between irritating and endearing, but for the most part, they add a unique flavor to a now-flooded genre.
On the one hand, Blue Beetle feels unique and fun, but the more one ponders what they’ve just seen, one starts to realize how much of a mixed bag the movie is. For me, it really lost me when his family joined in on the heroics for the finale. Jaime finds himself desperately in need of help, and his entire family – including his grandmother – spring into action. A plot angle has some serious Spider-Man and maybe Black Panther vibes, but all turns utterly ridiculous when his grandmother is seen channeling her “revolution” past experience into a fearsome warrior of sorts. Seeing her gleefully wielding a futuristic chain gun and mowing down bad guys is probably supposed to be cute and funny, but I found it to be neither.
Jaime is a pretty down-to-earth hero. He’s very much your average guy who just happened to be in the wrong place at the… right time? It takes some coercing for him to embrace his Blue Beetle destiny, but his struggle with purpose, career, and not necessarily wanting the responsibility of a symbiotic supersuit is certainly relatable (well, maybe not that last part so much). However, Blue Beetle is forcefully a team effort… sure, it’s great to have friends and family to help, but the movie just might have a few too many characters along for the ride. Again, it can’t help but get quite cheesy as the story progresses. Comedian George Lopez may be the funniest character in the bunch, playing Jaime’s eccentric uncle, Rudy, while his sister, Milagro, played by Belissa Escobedo, borders on obnoxious most of the time. Bruna Marquezine plays Jenny Kord, the object of Jaime’s affection, and the two prove to have some decent chemistry together along the way.
The only actor that doesn’t seem to know where they are for the length of the film is the painfully miscast Susan Sarandon, who plays the villainous Victoria Kord. Sarandon is a celebrated actress, but seeing her in the world of Blue Beetle is not only jarring, she almost seems resentful of the very role she’s playing. Her line deliveries seem so forced, you almost expect her to break the fourth wall and ask the audience how exactly she ended up here in her career. It’s a shame, too, because I’m sure the filmmakers were positively stoked to land such a name as Susan Sarandon for their film. Who knew it’d actually be a bad thing?
While the characters in Blue Beetle make the atmosphere a family affair, the content isn’t entirely family friendly (although I’m sure the filmmakers think it is?). There’s a surprising amount of profanity, including an incomplete “F” word, almost 20 uses each of the “S” word, “h*ll,” “Oh my G-d,” and many other cuss words. A character suffers a heart attack and dies in what ends up being a pretty emotional sequence. The violence is often just your standard superhero fare, but one shocking moment shows blood splattering onto a window as a man is killed behind it, and we see some blood splattering onto a man’s face during a flashback while he’s being operated on while awake. Jaime’s transformation scene into Blue Beetle might be disturbing for some, as black liquid – like nanites – consumes his body. There isn’t much by way of sexual content, but Jaime is naked the first time he transforms back into himself after being Blue Beetle, and his family reacts to his nakedness that we don’t see. There are also two references to Jaime getting aroused around Jenny, but they’re mostly relatively subtle.
Blue Beetle is kind of that guilty pleasure kind of action/superhero/comedy hybrid. My 13-year-old son loved it enough to say Blue Beetle is one of his favorite new heroes, but for the rest of us, it may not really be anything more than just some forgettable popcorn-munching entertainment. It’s certainly not the worst DC has put out, but it won’t ever be mentioned among the best the studio has produced either.
The 4K UHD transfer for the movie, however, is quite good. It’s a very colorful film, and the 4K presentation comes across great and really punches up the visuals. If you’re equipped for 4K viewing, I do recommend this one in that format.
– John DiBiase (reviewed: 11/8/23)
4K UHD Special Features
“Blue Beetle” Premium Digital Ownership, 4K UHD and Blu-ray contain the following special features:
- “Generations: Blue Beetle” – 4-part documentary
- Told in distinct chapters, explore the journeys of actors and filmmakers bringing “Blue Beetle” to the big screen for the first time ever. Audiences will be immersed in the POV of filmmakers who showcase their experiences on set and in their creative studios making the story of this DC character a reality.
- Nana Knows Best – featurette
- Witness Nana’s transformation from an adorable ‘abuelita’ into a machine gun-wielding revolutionary, and stop in for a few of her most fun moments on set throughout production.
- Scarab Vision – 2-part featurette
- Xolo Maridueña hosts this series of scene study walk throughs that showcases how the scarab works and the role it plays in some of Blue Beetle’s most epic moments.
Parental Guide: Content Summary
Sex/Nudity: We briefly see an abstract painting hanging on a wall of a pregnant woman covering her bare chest with her arm and her other arm under her pregnant belly which looks like a globe; After the suit first retracts into Jaime, he’s naked. We don’t see this, but his family reacts to his nudity (much to his horror later); After nearly kissing Jenny, Jaime pulls his jacket top down over his crotch as he stands up (to suggest he got aroused); Khaji-Da comments to Jaime that she sense blood moving to his crotch while he’s talking to Jenny. He then passionately kisses Jenny.
Vulgarity/Language: 1 incomplete “What the f—?”, 18 “S” words, 1 “g*dd*mn,” 19 “h*ll,” 15 “Oh my G-d,” 1 incomplete “What the-,” 1 “b*tch,” 3 “d*ck,” 7 “*ss” (plus 3 written in subtitles), 1 “*ssh*le,” 1 “Oh G-d,” 2 “G-d,” 3 “d*mn,” 1 “b*lls,” 1 “cr*p,” 1 “p*ss”
Alcohol/Drugs: Rudy is shown drinking in a restaurant; Jaime is shown drinking from a six pack with his sister; Jaime joins father who is drinking alone; Referring to a drug they’ve just taken, one of three random guys asks how long ago they took something and if they’re feeling it yet. They said they don’t feel anything, but upon seeing Jaime fly by in his suit, one of them says, “I think it just hit me”; People are seen drinking at a party.
Blood/Gore: When he lift’s up his shirt, we see the blue scarab dug into Jaime’s back, which looks red and kind of gross; A bad guy in a mech suit has some blood on his nose and head; We see blood on Jaime’s mouth and cheek and bruises on his body; Jaime marvels at himself in the mirror as he watches a cut on his cheek heal; Jaime’s dad has some blood on his mouth; As a bug-shaped ship walks, it impales a bad guy on its foot claw; Blood splatters onto a window as a man is killed in front of it; Jenny has bloody scrapes on her face; Carapax has blood on his face; In a flashback, blood splatters onto Carapax’s face; Jaime has blood on his face.
Violence: The alien scarab jumps on Jaime’s face. It shoots electricity out and propels Rudy across the room as the family screams in horror. The scarab crawls up Jaime’s shirt and goes into him. It then thrashes him around and pins him to the ceiling as it burns his clothes off and covers him in black liquid (looking like nanobytes); The suit, after covering Jaime’s body, blasts him through the kitchen ceiling and into the sky. It flies him around and slams him into things – bouncing off the water, a bridge and through the city. He crashes into a car; A bus drives into Blue Beetle and the suit uses a shield to protect itself, causing the bus to be cut right down the middle; Jaime falls through roof again; Some armed guys shoot at Jaime and Jenny’s vehicle as they drive off; Rudy throws a shoe at the wall; Jaime catches a punch from the bad guy, transforms and knocks him across the room; Carapax transforms into an OMAC and fires at Jaime. It shoots at him. It kicks a car into him. A big energy blast shoves Carapax back and then Beetle shoves a car into him; Jaime the shoots Carapax with energy beams. Carapax shoots at him and a truck. The villain throws Jaime into a car several times and then steps on his head to kill him, but is stopped; Rudy spins his truck around, launching equipment from the back of the truck into Carapax and saves Jaime; Armed soldiers show up at their house; Jaime jumps off a rooftop and turns into Blue Beetle in the air; Armed guys bust in the front door and point their guns at the Reyes family; A knocked over candle accidentally sets fire to carpet; Blue Beetle flies into some armed guys. They fire on him and then his family and he protects them. He blasts the shooters back with plasma cannons; Beetle then takes them out by fighting them off; An armed man punch the Reyes father in the face; Jaime shoots things out of his suit that trap some guys against a wall. Beetle shoots a guy into a car; The OMAC villain uses a cannon from a helicopter to hit the Beetle with a claw to disable him; A man has a heart attack and dies; A house on fire burns up and then explodes; The bad guys drag Jaime away; A bug-shaped ship crashes into a cement fortress; Bad guys shoot at the bug ship. As the ship walks, it impales a bad guy on its foot claw; A bug fart cloud takes out the rest of the bad guys; We see Jaime restrained as they try to drain energy from him; We see a fantasy world in the afterlife collapsing; We see tubes crawl up a villain’s arm as tech takes over; An explosion throws some bad guys; We see a man on the other side of a door through a window and he’s killed by an approaching mech behind him. We don’t see what happens to him, but we do see blood splatter violently on the window as the man is killed; A cave ceiling caves in; Nana guns down soldiers several times with a futuristic chain gun; Milagro punches bad guys using Blue Beetle tech, then uses a shield to block bullets. One of the bullets clips her arm; There’s an extended sequence of Blue Beetle beating up armed bad guys; Carapax shoots Jaime through a wall. The two then fight in the air. Jaime grows a huge blade on his arm and fights Carapax. Jaime stabs him and hits him with piercing legs. Carapax smashes him and breaks his mask; Rudy hits Carapax with rocks and he fires back at the building where Rudy was standing (making Jaime think Rudy was killed); Jaime shoots Carapax with a super blast; Victoria points an uzi at Jenny. Jenny punches her and another guy and uses inflatable gum to fill up the cabin and cause the helicopter they’re in to crash; Jaime pounces on Carapax and beats him, punching the helmet off of him; Khaji-Da stops Jaime’s blade before hitting the eye of the villain; We see flashbacks from Carapax’s life where blood splatters on his face as they make him into a mech. We see some military flashbacks, himself as a child soldier, and his mom dying in a bombing; A man drags a woman into a fire and there’s a large explosion.