Blue Beetle: Another Unfortunate Misfire for the Troubled DCEU (Blu-ray)
Once again, we return to the highly-troubled world of the DC Comics Extended Universe, which has been having an even worse time this year than usual. After delivering three successive critical & box office duds with "Black Adam," "Shazam: Fury of the Gods," and "The Flash," they are in desperate need of a hit, which brings us to their next attempt at bat, a feature film that introduces a relatively obscure superhero into the mix known as "Blue Beetle." Will this be the one to finally break the DCEU's current streak of disasters, or will reaching too deep into the backlog merely add to their woes?
The film revolves around Jaime Reyes (Xolo Maridueña), who comes home to his family in Palmero City after graduation to find that they are close to getting evicted from their home. In the meantime, he and his sister Milagro (Belissa Escobedo) get cleaning jobs at the mansion of Victoria Kord (Susan Sarandon), CEO of Kord Industries, a tech company looking to use the powers of an alien artifact known as "The Scarab" to create super soldiers. However, both of them get fired after Jaime intervenes in a fight between Victoria and her niece, Jenny (Bruna Marquezine), who decides to offer him a job opportunity in appreciation.
He takes her up on the offer, and goes to meet her at Kord Headquarters, but events take a quick turn when Jenny tries to steal the Scarab, and is forced to pass it off to Jaime for safe keeping. He takes it home, where it attaches itself to him and gives him a protective suit of armor and super powers. It's not long before Victoria comes calling to retrieve what was stolen from her, forcing Jaime, Jenny, and the whole Reyes family to come together in a desperate effort to stop her from carrying out her plan.
As noted, the DCEU has been going through an even more difficult period than usual. Whether it's from simple superhero fatigue (for this universe, at least), or from the fact that these films just haven't been getting a very good reception, this tail end of the series has been in a fast downward spiral as we head toward the much-anticipated reboot, spearheaded by James Gunn and Peter Safran. Still, before that happens, they're hoping to hit it big again with the likes of "Blue Beetle," which, as mentioned, introduces the character for the first time into this vast universe of superheroes.
It was certainly an interesting choice to pull out a more recent (Jaime's iteration debuted in 2006) and relatively unknown character for a major film in the series, but at the very least, you have to admire them for going big & bold on such a risk. That said, it really makes you wish that they had gone big & bold on the story as well, for that ends up being its biggest failing. There's a sweet, important message in here about the importance of family, but sadly it's buried in a heavily cliched superhero flick whose beats you can list off well before they happen.
There's a young man who unexpectedly gets super powers, has to go about learning how to control them, all before having to face the evil head of a corporation that wants to do something very bad, with a little romance and family help thrown in along the way. There just isn't anything original here to engage with, leading to a very ho-hum film that plays out exactly as you expect it to. The cast is certainly game. Xolo Maridueña does a fine job as young Jaime, who's thrust into this crazy situation, while Susan Sarandon looks like she's having campy fun as the film's villain, but again, the material just doesn't give them a whole lot to work with.
It really just makes you wonder, if they were going to take a chance on the character, why didn't they try to do something a little more creative with the story? Why go to all this trouble to deliver a very familiar film with such predictable narrative beats? Whatever the reason, unfortunately it marks another miss for the beleaguered DCEU. One can only hope that the upcoming reboot of the universe will solve the problems, and that, with James Gunn (whose "The Suicide Squad" remains the best DC film of the post-Nolan era) helping to lead the way, these superheroes can greatly flourish as they once did many years ago.
"Blue Beetle" comes to Blu-ray in a 2.39:1, 1080p High Definition transfer of excellent quality. The image is perfectly sharp and clear throughout, and does a great job of highlighting the film's multitude of special effects. Likewise, the Dolby Atmos-TrueHD audio track is marvelous, giving you all of the dialogue, sound effects, and music in outstanding quality. Overall, in typical Warner Bros. fashion, the film has received great treatment in both areas for its physical home release.
Generations: Blue Beetle (46 Minutes): An intriguing series of four featurettes that go behind the scenes of the making of the film, covering areas such as the sets, costumes, cast, and the origin of the character.
Scarab Vision (13 Minutes): An odd pair of featurettes that are a kind of scene study hosted by star Xolo Maridueña.
Nana Knows Best (4 Minutes): Another rather pointless featurette that takes a quick look at Jaime's grandmother.
"Blue Beetle" contains a great message about the importance of family, and has a cast up to the task of bringing this lesser-known superhero's origin story to the big screen, but unfortunately it's all hindered too much by the heavily cliched storyline, which presents nothing more than a series of very familiar & predictable beats, ultimately resulting in yet another miss for the troubled DC Extended Universe.
Available on Blu-ray starting tomorrow.
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