TEXAS, USA —
Is it time for the box office to turn from "Barbie" pink to "Beetle" blue? The folks behind "Blue Beetle" sure hope so!
The latest entry into the D.C. Universe is also the first Latino superhero. "Cobra Kai's" Xolo Maridueña plays Jaime Reyes, just home from college. An encounter with a tech heiress puts him in possession of a scarab that chooses him as its host, and he reluctantly becomes "Blue Beetle."
Home in the comic books is El Paso, but the movie is set in the fictional Palmera City, a decision made before Puerto Rican director Angel Manuel Soto came on board. He does give a nice nod or two to the Texas city, however, and more importantly, incorporates Hispanic culture at every turn, most importantly when it comes to family.
Jaime's family is right there when he discovers his destiny, and they become part of his adventure including George Lopez as his crazy tech-savvy uncle (a character new to the movie).
This director is earnest, and he delivers.
"Blue Beetle" has a fun youthful energy, and Susan Sarandon makes it slightly delicious as the villain. A lot of fans don't think D.C. is worth considering until James Gunn is fully on board. "The Flash" and "Blue Beetle" both prove them wrong.
(Warner Bros. Rated PG-13. Running Time 2 hrs. 7 mins. In Theaters Only)
LANDSCAPE WITH INVISIBLE HAND
Okay ... I'm still not sure what this title means, even after I viewed the film!
Tiffany Haddish stars in and executive produces the sci-fi movie. She plays the mom of a teenaged artist in a world occupied by savvy aliens who also have a superior economy 'out there.' Haddish's son (a very watchable Asante Blackk) agrees to his girlfriend's plan to broadcast their budding romance to the aliens as a way to make some money. (Aliens are fascinated by human social patterns and will pay to watch.)
When that eventually wears thin, Haddish hatches her own plot to gain the upper hand.
This movie goes from weird to weirder, especially when we meet the aliens who look like slimy, walking boxes. Writer/director Cory Finley previously made the sly "The Thoroughbreds," (a breakthrough for Anya Taylor-Joy), and he directed Hugh Jackman's fine performance in "Bad Education." But this is a miss for me.
By the way, you can see Haddish times two this weekend. She also produces and stars in "Back on the Strip" about male strippers reuniting in Vegas. It was not screened for the press.
(MGM. Rated R. Running Time 1 hr. 45 mins. In Theaters Only)
Warning. This is not a cute, talking pet movie for kids. Far from it!
Will Ferrell voices a scruffy Border Terrier named 'Reggie' shared by Will Forte and his girlfriend. Forte's character never liked the pet, but when he catches his girlfriend cheating, they break up and he keeps Reggie out of spite. He then proceeds to try to lose the dog, but the naive thing keeps finding his way back.
One day, his master's had enough and drops him off far away in the city. There, he meets a street wise Boston Terrier (voiced by Jamie Foxx). Together, along with a Great Dane (voiced by Randall Park) and an Australian Shepherd (voiced by Isla Fisher), they try to make their way back to Reggie's master, this time with thoughts of taking major revenge.
I've cleaned this up a lot. It's all about bodily functions, marking territory, etc. Is it funny? Yes, it is, and director Josh Greenbaum wisely keeps it short. But don't say I didn't warn you. It's rated 'R' for a reason.
(Universal Pictures. Rated R. Running Time 1 hr. 33 mins. In Theaters Only)
MIGUEL WANTS TO FIGHT
Teenage Miguel is a lover, not a fighter, even though his dad is a boxing coach! His friends have no problem picking fights, but when it's his turn, he fades away. The extent of his encounters are fantasy sequences in his head and on his video screen. Well, he's found out his Mom's got a job out of town and the family will be moving.
Now's his time to finally get in a fight. But against whom? The perfect scenario just never presents itself, until it does.
This is a decent attempt to be relevant, but the language is coarse to the point that parents might not approve, and the fantasy sequences just aren't effective. It's average at best.
(Hulu. Rated TV-MA. Running Time 1 hr. 15 mins. Streaming Only)
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