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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Blue Beetle (4K UHD Review)


The Film
The Video (Overall)
HDR Effect
The Audio
The Supplements


In the origin story of Blue Beetle, recent college graduate Jaime Reyes is chosen as a host by an alien scarab that imparts him with superpowers via a powerful armored suit.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Blue Beetle, directed by Angel Manuel Soto (Charm City Kings) from a screenplay by Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer (Miss Bala), is one of the latest DC film entries and the first feature film for this comic book character.

Xolo Maridueña plays recent pre-law college graduate Jaime Reyes, a Mexican-American who returns to his family home where there have been a lot of changes while he was away. His father (Damián Alcázar), mother (Elpidia Carrillo), grandmother (Adriana Barraza), and sister (Belissa Escobedo), and uncle (George Lopez) all inform him they are losing their house and they have lost the family business, due to unaffordable rent hikes by callous businesswoman Victoria Kord (Susan Sarandon). Down on his luck and finding it hard to get a job to help support his family, Jaime takes a low-paying job at the Kord corporation where he meets Jenny Kord (Bruna Marquezine) who offers him a job working for her. When he returns to Kord tower the next day to meet with Jenny, he ends up in danger when Jenny shoves a box holding an ancient alien scarab into his hands, telling him to keep it safe and not open it. Of course, the instruction to not open the box becomes too much of a temptation to look in the box when encouraged by his family. The scarab takes over his body and gives him superpowers. Meanwhile, Victoria Kord, who was using the scarab to create her own military super soldier tech hunts Jaime down and threatens his family.

As far as superhero origin stories go, this one works. It is believable and easy to follow, even though the screenplay zips right over any further explanation of the origins of the scarab. The tone of the film is infused with a lot of comedy, some if it a bit forced, but George Lopez is unsurprisingly solid comedic relief.

Soto’s direction is breezy and energetic, although there are some lapses in the energy levels, mostly during the scenes that try to expand character and give important dialogue. This is not the strength of Blue Beetle. The film lands more in the arena of Marvel’s Ant-Man, only without broader connection to the DC Universe. Beetle can stand on its own without one needing to worry about how it fits into any upcoming Justice League movies or how Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman might fit into the narrative.

Even as this is a minor character from the DC comics, Blue Beetle gives a good dose of lighthearted entertainment along with the requisite visual effects dazzle.

  • Xolo Maridueña in Blue Beetle (2023)
  • Xolo Maridueña in Blue Beetle (2023)
  • Belissa Escobedo in Blue Beetle (2023)
  • Elpidia Carrillo, Damián Alcázar, George Lopez, Xolo Maridueña, and Belissa Escobedo in Blue Beetle (2023)
  • Xolo Maridueña in Blue Beetle (2023)
  • Blue Beetle (2023)
  • Xolo Maridueña in Blue Beetle (2023)
  • Blue Beetle 4K Ultra HD + Digital (Warner Bros.)
  • Blue Beetle 4K Ultra HD + Digital (Warner Bros.)
  • Blue Beetle 4K Ultra HD + Digital (Warner Bros.)

The Video

Blue Beetle was shot in ARRIRAW (4.5K) on the Arri Alexa LF IMAX and Arri Alexa Mini LF IMAX with Panavision Primo Artiste lenses. The 4K Ultra HD disc from Warner Bros. is framed at 2.40:1 and encoded in HEVC 2160p (4K UHD) Dolby Vision. HDR10 metadata shows a MaxLL of 736 nits and MaxFALL of 305 nits. From the very beginning the picture looks stunning, with extraordinary clarity, extended details, and broad, nuanced contrast. The Dolby Vision grading brings bright colors and outstanding specular highlights with the sheen on the Blue Beetle costume or the various visual effects of the energy weapons in use. Flames are multiples of red and orange and look three-dimensional.

The Audio

The English Dolby Atmos mix is one of the better ones from Warner recently. It has wide dynamic range, clean dialogue, and a good balance of sound between the score and sound effects. Overhead speakers are well used during many of the action sequences, such as when Susan Sarandon and her minions fly over the Reyes house. Low end is big and bombastic where it is needed. This could be a showpiece for the “bass heads” our there.

The Supplements

Warner supplies a few featurettes that could come straight off an EPK, but there are some interviews and behind-the-scenes looks. No Blu-ray is included but there is a free Movies Anywhere digital code.

  • Movies Anywhere Digital Code
  • Blue Beetle Generations:
    • Origins (1080p; 00:07:28)
    • Production Begins (1080p; 00:16:12)
    • In Full Flight (1080p; 00:09:03)
    • A Hero’s World (1080p; 00:13:24)
  • Scarab Vision:
    • Episode 1: Initiation (1080p; 00:06:35)
    • Episode 2: Mastery (1080p; 00:06:50)
  • Blue Beetle’s Nana Knows Best (1080p; 00:04:21)

The Final Assessment

Blue Beetle is a fun and action-packed comic book movie supplying a visual effects packed spectacle for this origin story entry. Warner’s 4K Ultra HD release is reference quality straight through for both the audio and video aspects.

  • Rating Certificate: PG-13 (for sequences of action and violence, language, and some suggestive references)
  • Studios & Distributors: Warner Bros. | Warner Bros. Pictures Mexico | DC Entertainment | Lightnin’ Production Rentals | The Safran Company | Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
  • Director: Angel Manuel Soto
  • Written By: Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer
  • Run Time: 127 Mins.
  • Street Date: 31 October 2023
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Video Format: HEVC 2160p (4K UHD)
  • HDR Format: Dolby Vision (HDR10 Compatible)
  • HDR10 Metadata:
    • MaxLL: 736 nits
    • MaxFALL: 305 nits
  • Primary Audio: English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Compatible)
  • Secondary Audio: English DD 5.1 | English Descriptive Audio | French DD 5.1 | Spanish DD 5.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH | French | Spanish

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In the origin story of Blue Beetle, recent college graduate Jaime Reyes is chosen as a host by an alien scarab that imparts him with superpowers via a powerful armored suit.Blue Beetle (4K UHD Review)