Enjoyable enough: ‘Blue Beetle’ follows a well-worn formula, but is saved by family elements and decent action

The latest DC Universe film feels like something Marvel would reserve for one of their TV shows. It’s relatively entertaining, but it follows a well-worn formula—to the point where the superheroes are starting to feel interchangeable.

Blue Beetle has to do with a symbiote that turns its host into something that resembles a combination of Iron Man and Spider-Man. The film feels cobbled together—but it’s also enjoyable enough to justify its existence. Yeah, that’s not a ringing endorsement, but it is late summer, and you could certainly do a lot worse.

OK, that’s still not a ringing endorsement.

The movie has a bit of a made-for-streaming feel to it, probably because it stars Xolo Mariduena, of Netflix’s Cobra Kai, as Jaime Reyes, aka Blue Beetle, while former TV talk-show host George Lopez plays his crazy uncle. (A little research reveals that the film was, in fact, originally intended for a streaming release.)

When Jaime shows up at a large business’ headquarters located in the fictional Palmera City looking for a job, he’s unwittingly given a high-grade weapon in a burger box by Jenny (Bruna Marquezine). That night at dinner with his family, they take the blue insect-like object out of the box, and it proceeds to journey up Jaime’s ass. (No joke; that’s what happens.) When it’s up in there, it fuses with his body—and he sprouts metallic appendages and a militaristic armor reminiscent of Tony Stark’s best.

Jaime can shoot force blasts, is bulletproof, can fly, and is controlled by some sort of artificial-intelligence system. As he battles an evil military conglomerate led by Susan Sarandon (yep, she plays the film’s baddie), he figures out how to work in accordance with the AI. (While it isn’t mentioned, he’s probably also dealing with some serious anal fissures.)

There’s a fun family element to the movie, as Lopez’s uncle character, Jaime’s nana (Adriana Barraza) and his sis (Belissa Escobedo) get in on the villain-fighting act. The movie is a little slow in stretches, but it definitely soars in its second half thanks to competent action direction by Angel Manuel Soto, as well as a terrific score.

Blue Beetle didn’t light up the box office on its opening weekend, so chances for a sequel are probably dim. It’s fun, but it probably should’ve gotten that premiere on Max, not the big screen.

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