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  • Writer's pictureOli Law

Blue Beetle ★★★★

Ángel Manuel Soto

Starring Xolo Mariduena, Adriana Barraza, Damián Alcázar, Susan Sarandon, George Lopez

DC’s next/first/last/most out of place feature in its slippery slate of comic book movies comes in the form of one of it’s lesser known characters: Blue Beetle, but it’s most confusing aspect is that it’s surprisingly good.

Jaime Reyes (Xolo Mariduena) returns to his home in Palmera City to find his family on the brink of losing their home. His pursuit to support them puts him in contact with the wealthy Kord family who are at odds on how to use a mysterious object known as the Scarab which falls into Reyes’ unwilling hands, armouring his body, controlling his mind with a voice inside his head and granting him the abilities of the Blue Beetle.

Nothing out of the ordinary in terms of typical superhero structure, yet there’s a refreshing child-like innocence to the whole project that lets loose from the constraint of modern world-building. The essence of building a blockbuster franchise boils down to copying the blueprint created by Marvel for their juggernaut The MCU. DC has tried everything under the sun to replicate this success, yet with one world in tatters on the brink of a new one lead by James Gunn, comes this charming character driven popcorn flick that maybe proves that all this time they’ve been trying too hard.

Never the less the usual comic book tropes are forever present throughout, from weaponised army building corporate baddie (Susan Sarandon) to flying montages and whacky PG jokes galore. Tonally this movie is aimed for more of young teenager vibe which does a successful job of putting you in that mind set if you are willing.

Huge praise to George Lopez as the comedic Mexican Dave Grohl conspiracy theorist uncle who delivers a performance that makes you giddy every time he’s on screen.

Maridueña’s Jamie Reyes is the perfect poster boy and wouldn’t be amiss amongst the Justice League’s roster or high-paid stars. But where the movie really excels are during the character interactions with the members of his family; unironically the heart of the story. The cheesy dialogue of Fast and Furious is forever present, yet through the kid-friendly whimsy of the plot you have more of a connection with them which raises the stakes.

The themes of class and Mexican immigration are deeply rooted in the story rather than treated as a mission to inform, which ultimately in my eyes provides a more natural form of inception and cultural teachings.

Blue Beetle is less about the eponymous Scarab and traditional superhero schtick which is ultimately its super strength. Its themes are pivotal to its story and director Ángel Manuel Soto delivers a family friendly flick with a resounding emphasis on family that plays like Disney’s Coco on crack. A pleasant surprise that’s as good as any hero debut in Marvels sacred formula before it.

Blue Beetle available in cinemas now

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