Familia

Susan Sarandon once won Oscar gold. In 2023, superhero movies continue at such a clip, they’ve sucked in Sarandon too, who in her “first year of supervillain school” dialog, is reduced to spouting b-level lines akin to Rita Repulsa on Power Rangers, climbing out of her centuries long prison. Sarandon says – with a straight face – “Finally after all these years, the scarab will be ours!” and her delivery is worthy of a different award.

Blue Beetle isn’t about Sarandon. She’s secondary. The focus is on the Reyes family, giving Blue Beetle a Mexican touch and the only distinctive thing about this movie. Rather than cyborg-infused Jamie (Xolo Mariduena) however, it’s his family leading this story. Try as they do, George Lopez especially as a hyper-active uncle, Blue Beetle can’t overcome the baseline familiarity this genre is suffocating from.

Blue Beetle can’t overcome the baseline familiarity this genre is suffocating from


Shots of Jamie appearing shocked and confused about what’s happening to him. A scene where Jamie forcefully learns of his powers and causes comic damage. Robotic men spinning around in the sky as the camera improbably follows their violent dance and laser beams. Arms dealers. This is using Iron Man’s skeleton, with a touch of Spider-Man.

Even as a family story, Blue Beetle ramps up the tropes, like a grandmother taking up arms and Lopez as the tech-obsessed hacker uncle. That team element brings whatever joy Blue Beetle can muster, but it’s not much. Tired, tension-releasing one-liners flow at an obnoxious clip, as if this is all the Warner/DC side of things can understand about Marvel’s successful formula (or “was successful,” anyway).

It’s almost impossible to care about this character who will, inevitably, win. Justice will be served, the family will hug, and of course they’ll take in any cast-aways too. In its first act, Blue Beetle paints a certain hopelessness, the Reyes family looking on as their home is nearing total gentrification, and Jamie wonders why he bothered ever going to college.

Debt and finances linger as prominent issues. Blue Beetle forgets that too, or rather, finds a last second solution when the clearly insidious corporation donates a house and a truck to make amends. To Blue Beetle, escaping poverty is easy – become implanted by an alien scarab, engage in epic battles, and save the world. Then your house is paid for. Never mind the continuing economic strain afterward.

Video

The peak brightness spares nothing in Dolby Vision terms, not even retinas. Blue Beetle’s glow and intensity is among the format’s best. Oddly, black levels don’t follow, generally light and drifting with the color grading.

Speaking of color, it’s hyper-saturated, even too much so. There’s a bleed to the vividness. Flesh tones smear, as do other hues. Blue Beetle, although shot digitally, has the look of cheap analog film. The overwarmed flesh tones are at the source, and it falls off from there.

A chunky bit of noise hovers over much of Blue Beetle, and that rips away a thin layer of detail from the top (Susan Sarandon’s face is often especially noisy). Mid-range shots suffer the most, and fail in producing the sense of a 4K source (which this is). In close, fidelity can shine, but inconsistently.

Audio

Mixed quieter than some other comparable superhero films, Blue Beetle adjusts well to a slight bump in volume. Bass makes a notable statement during the major action scenes, and remains reserved elsewhere, even disappointing. Still, when at its deepest, it’s a capable low-end (the Beetle ship firing up and its engines).

Atmos effects occur infrequently, but do impress when given the chance. Blue Beetle’s internal AI voice often surrounds the entire soundstage when inside the helmet; that sounds wholly effective. Flying through the city, Beetle bounces between speakers as he darts between cars, with wind and screams heard in the stereos, heights, and rears.

Extras

A multi-part documentary on film’s origins and production runs close to 50-minutes. Two scene breakdowns follow, with an enjoyable look at Blue Beetle’s grandma up for the finale.

Blue Beetle
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
2

Movie

Other than its Mexican heritage, Blue Beetle is an appallingly thin and generic superhero origin story.

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User Review
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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 47 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD:


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