Today we’re talking about the highly anticipated “Birds of Prey” directed by Cathy Yan and written by Christina Hodson. The cast is headlined by Margot Robbie, with Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, Ewan McGregor, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Ella Jay Basco filling out the players. This story is told through the perspective of Harley Quinn and follows her break up with Mr. J, the uniting of the Birds of Prey, and their partnering to stop a villain named Roman Sionis when he puts a hit order out on a little girl named Cass.
Now it’s no secret the “Suicide Squad” divided fans. Some liked it, many didn’t, but the one common takeaway from the movie was the great portrayal of Harley Quinn from Margot Robbie. I thought she was the best aspect of that movie, so I was intrigued to see her again as the character, this time in more of a leading role. I wanted to see more of her personality, and I was curious to see the difference in the character from the perspective of a female writer/director team. I wanted a wildly vibrant movie, with quirkiness, action, personality, and humor. All facets this movie was able to deliver on.
From the opening scene you can sense the movie will be very much its own in terms of tone and attitude. It doesn’t feel like all the other comic-book movies out there and that was what I hoped for. It felt like something from the mind of Harley Quinn and with her narrating the story-line all the colorful eccentricities, vulgarities, and charisma felt extremely authentic. This was a Birds of Prey movie, but it was also the Fantabulous Emancipation of one Harley Quinn, and I thought there was a nice balance between all the moving pieces of the story-line.
It opens with Quinn grieving over her break-up with the Joker. That, and the ramifications of her not having his protection anymore pulls things right into the main plot. This plot-line introduces us to our villain, and from there it ties in the members of the Birds of Prey and I enjoyed the flow between the different elements. There is a non-linear progression to the narrative and instead of feeling choppy like can often happen, here it used the technique to its advantage. With tight writing that blended personality, humor, and world building seamlessly, this fragmented progression of the story was able to provide foundation for all the different characters, right when it was needed for the viewer.
I felt I learned about each of them and where “Suicide Squad” felt like it had disposable characters, here everyone had a purpose. They had tangible motivation and it made the story extremely easy to invest in. And it didn’t hurt that the cast killed it with their performances. Robbie was excellent once again as Quinn and she disappeared into the role. There was much more substance to her than what we saw in “Suicide Squad” and it was completely entertaining. There are added layers to her wacky personality and Robbie delivered on it flawlessly. She was capable in the action, graceful in her comedic delivery and most important, she felt unhinged when needed and it was great.
Jurnee Smollett-Bell was excellent as well. She captured the emotional beats of the character-arc nicely and she easily held her own in the action. Much like Mary Elizabeth Winstead was able to accomplish in her role. Both put a ton of work into the action, their comedic timing was nicely dialed in, and there was a heartfelt tone to them that made them feel like normal people which I liked. I thought it made them easily likable. Ewan McGregor was fantastic as well. His villain arc has been seen before, but the eccentricities and flamboyance from McGregor took a traditional role and gave it an unconventional attitude, one that blended with the mood of the film nicely.
On the technical side I loved the visual aesthetic overall. The color pallet was vivid and very energetic. The production design crafted many visually appealing backdrops that matched the tone of the film perfectly. It all blended to create an appealing atmosphere for the viewer to immerse themselves into and it tops it off with a strong soundtrack that heightens the mood and attitude of the story beats immensely. And no comic book movie would be complete without some awesome action-sequences and this one delivered plenty. The choreography was fluid, the action was violent, and it was captured with stylistic editing techniques that never hindered the visual intensity.
Overall this was a wild ride, with solid humor that never felt forced, action that hit with impact, and an endless stream of engaging characters that couldn’t be more different from one another, yet still manage to capture a chemistry that made them all fit as one. This movie is an enthusiastic adventure filled with all you could ask for from the mind of Harley Quinn, and it’s certainly worth a watch in the big screen.
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BIRDS OF PREY – VIDEO REVIEW