Birds of Prey
and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn
Genre(s): Action, Fantasy
Warner Bros. | R – 109 min. – $35.99 | May 12, 2020
Date Published: 05/21/2020 | Author: The Movieman
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post.
The opinions I share are my own.
THE MOVIE — 2.75/5
Plot Synopsis: It’s open season on Harley Quinn (MARGOT ROBBIE) when her explosive breakup with the Joker puts a big fat target on her back. Unprotected and on the run, Quinn faces the wrath of narcissistic crime boss Roman Sionis (EWAN MCGREGOR) a.k.a. Black Mask, his right-hand man, Victor Zsasz (CHRIS MESSINA), and every other thug in the city. Sioinis also seeks a special diamond in the possession of street thief Cassandra Cain (ELLA JAY BASCO).
But things soon even out for Harley when she becomes unexpected allies with three deadly women – Helena Bertinelli/The Huntress (MARY ELIABETH WINSTEAD), Dinah Lance/Black Canary (JURNEE SMOLLETT-BELL) and Detective Renee Montoya (ROSIE PEREZ).
Review: It’s no secret, at least if you’ve actually read my other reviews, I am a DC fan. I genuinely liked Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: The Ultimate Edition (NOT the theatrical version) and Wonder Woman, and with Suicide Squad, I have soured on it with each additional viewing, enjoying some aspects, one of them being Margot Robbie’s portrayal of Harley Quinn.
So, it does say something that once Warner Brothers went with Birds of Prey over a proposed Gotham City Sirens, I wasn’t entirely enthused and with the trailer and title reveal — Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn — I really could not muster up very much excitement, despite a respectable cast that also included Ewan McGregor, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Rosie Perez.
The lead up to the film’s release, and after finally watching it, it kind of makes sense why the studio wanted to re-title it, at least in trailers and for online ticket sales, to Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey because this film seemed to want to be both a movie about Harley Quinn as well as four new characters. The balance never quite worked, however.
Part of the issue, and I know what screenwriter Christina Hodson, who has received praise for her work on Bumblebee, was going for, a non-linear story as narrated by Harley herself, giving insights into her scrambled mind. Interesting concept, unfortunately the cost was, even though we do get some background on the others – outside of Huntress – is mainly told through dialogue and removes any sort of emotion towards any of them.
With no real connection to these characters, the new ones anyway as HQ at least does get an arc, plus we’ve seen her origin in Suicide Squad, and thus I really didn’t care about their well-beings nor their triumphant coming together to fight the scumbag that is Black Mask, played by Ewan McGregor, who, to his credit, has a few note-worthy scenes that made a thin villain a bit more worthy of being taken down.
As a fan of DC Comics back in the mid-90s through early 2000s, I do have a bit of a bias and the usage of Cassandra Cain turning her into a basic street criminal when her comic background was scary and tragic (trained as a child to be an assassin by her father, David Cain). Perhaps if the movie had done better her heritage (which also included her mother being another assassin, Lady Shiva), but here, kind of bland, and that goes for Ella Jay Basco, though in fairness, not hard to be lost next to the likes of Margot Robbie and Harley Quinn.
I know nothing of Cathy Yan outside she was a very independent filmmaker with one film under her belt, a drama-comedy titled Dead Pigs (starring Zazie Beetz). Can’t say there’s anything noteworthy about her style, though I suppose some of the set designs, such as the abandoned carnival, were interesting. Even the fight scenes, under the guide of Chad Stahelski’s 87eleven stunt company, was alright yet still not entirely memorable, but I guess entertaining enough in the absence of in-depth character development.
In the end, Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (phew) should get credit for not following the same-old “comic book” adaptation that has overrun the market, and puts its own counter-spin to its predecessor. That said, the stop-start pacing with Harley’s narration, while understandable, does hurt in making one care for any of the newcomers and for a movie with “Birds of Prey” at the front, they take a backseat and come across as afterthoughts.
For myself, in my list of comic book film, sits squarely in the middle in average territory alongside Suicide Squad, Superman Returns and Thor to name a few.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.75/5
This release comes with a glossy and sparkly slip cover and inside is a redemption code for the Digital HD copy. As with the movie, very HQ centric, less so than the actual BIRDS OF PREY.
Birds Eye View is a picture-in-picture feature with pop-up behind-the-scenes footage, cast/crew interviews (Robbie, Yan, McGregor, etc) and trivia.
Birds of Prey: Birds of a Feather (8:26) — Behind-the-scenes featurette that encompasses just about everything in a short amount of time from Margot Robbie’s return as HQ, Hodson’s script, Cathy Yan’s direction, stunts, production design, et al.
Romanesque (4:57) is a profile on Roman Sionis with interviews by Ewan McGregor and various members of the cast and crew.
A Love, Skate Relationship (4:29) — Covers the roller derby sequence and how it was filmed.
Grime and Crime (10:38) — This featurette takes a close look at the production design from Harley’s apartment, Roman’s club to the amusement park.
Sanity is Sooo Last Season (7:39) is on the costume design and inspiration from the comics.
Wild Nerds (6:03) on the style and tone of the film in keeping with HQ’s personality.
Gag Reel (2:02)
VIDEO – 5.0/5
|Birds of Prey flocks onto Blu-ray, presented with a 2.35 widescreen aspect ratio and given a 1080p high-definition transfer. Like its “predecessor” (of sorts), Suicide Squad, this is a bright looking picture, plenty of colors throughout while black levels are still relatively stark, most notably the final scene. No apparent bouts of artifacts, aliasing or other flaws making for a visually pleasing experience.|
AUDIO – 4.5/5
|The disc comes with a Dolby Atmos track which I found a bit underwhelming. The variety of pop/hip-hop music and soundtrack comes through well enough as does dialogue coming via the center speaker, but other than those, the action scenes, including the explosion of the Acme chemical plant, were a bit too low key and depth was on the limited side. And to make sure, as there is a standard Dolby Digital 5.1 option, I did have the Atmos track checked.|
OVERALL – 3.25/5
Birds of Prey, despite its madcap narration by Robbie’s Harley Quinn, is a rather forgettable film, though Quinn is still an interesting character, sadly overshadowing the others of the, you know, BIRDS OF PREY. This might be worthy of a rental but this isn’t one I’ll revisit anytime soon, unfortunately.