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Blue Beetle is a winner for DC

After his impressive sophomore feature, Charm City Kings director Angel Manuel Soto ventures into the world of superheroes in Blue Beetle from Warner Bros. Jaime Reyes (Xolo Maridueña), a recent graduate from Gotham College, returns to his family in Palmera City, looking for a well-paying job to repay his student loan. His family includes dad Alberto (Damián Alcázar), mom Rocio (Elpidia Carrillo), wise-cracking sister Milagro (Belissa Escibedo), Uncle Rudy (George Lopez), and grandmother (Adriana Barraza).

Jaime's family resides in a compact, multi-generational abode in a less affluent area scheduled for demolition due to their inability to meet the rent. Adding to their predicament, Jaime's father requires surgery, which has placed significant financial strain on the family. Although they have tried to keep Jaime unaware of their challenges, he is now under pressure to secure employment promptly.

Alongside his sister, Jaime takes a job cleaning the mansion of Victoria Kord (Susan Sanadaron), the head of the KORD corporation. Jamie also comes into contact with Victoria's niece Jenny (Bruna Marquezine), who has had a legitimate beef with her aunt since her dad disappeared. A series of events lead to Jenny discovering that everything isn't as it seems at the company, and when a Beetle prototype falls into Jaime's hands, he transforms into the Blue Beetle. Becky G voices the powerful intergalactic energy source, Khaji-Da, which powers the suit.

Many viewers will be biased toward Blue Beetle because the film is from DC. However, at its core, the film is a fun time. One of the standout features of the film is the Reyes family, whose unique personalities enhance the storyline. A truck-loving technician, Uncle Rudy sleeps on the family couch while the grandmother creates a cozy home environment and harbors intriguing secrets.

The rest of the family also have solid character arcs. Primarily the focus is on Jamie, but unlike other genre films where family members may only serve as hostages or receive a pat on the back, the Reyes family takes an active role in the story. Kudos to the filmmakers for taking this approach. I also comedy the writers for attempting to beat us over the head with plot points of the differences between the rich and poor.

In his first role after finding stardom with Cobra Kai, Xolo Mariduena does a decent job and validates that with the right career choices, he will have success when he hangs up his GI. Not only is Bruna Marquezine's character portrayed as more than just a helpless victim, but the rest of the Reyes family also delivers impressive performances.

For the most part, I did enjoy Blue Beetle. However, there are some gripes. For starters, our main villain Susan Sandaron delivers a paycheck performance. I don't know much about the Blue Beetle comics, but I'm sure there is a more formidable foe in the rogues gallery. Secondly, the film is overtly cliched with its storyline involving a villainous power-hungry corporation, a technologically advanced suit, vast energy resources, and the goal of forming a symbiotic relationship with an alien power is a well-worn trope. Even inexperienced movie-goers will quickly grasp the narrative structure.

Finally, while it didn't bother me, a moment in the third act will warrant some unnecessary think pieces. Despite my minor grievances, Blue Beetle is worth watching due to the impressive performances by the cast and the strong emphasis on family.

Final Grade: B+

Blue Beetle is in theaters now.


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