Director: Cathy Yan
Starring: Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, Chris Messina, Ella Jay Basco, Ali Wong, and Ewan McGregor
I’m going to be honest here, Birds of Prey – or to use its full and wonderful title, Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) – wasn’t really on my radar.
I mean, I knew it was coming out and I was looking forward to watching it, but as far as my anticipation levels for this film were concerned, I wasn’t overly desperate to see it.
The film’s trailers piqued my interest, but I wasn’t thinking, “I really need to book tickets to see this film”.
I wasn’t watching and rewatching Birds of Prey’s trailers online and I wasn’t tracking down interviews with the cast and the film’s director.
However, after having seen it, that’s what I’m doing.
I want to see it again, and that’s the trademark of a great movie as far as I’m concerned.
After having seen it, I tweeted out an immediate reaction to the film, and I said that I “enjoyed it more than Joker”, and that I did.
Now, you have to take note that I used the word “enjoyed” here.
I don’t think Birds of Prey is a better movie than Todd Phillips’ Joker.
To be honest, I think it’s rather unfair to compare those two movies.
I also don’t think Joker is a movie that’s supposed to be ‘enjoyed’. It’s more a movie that gets you thinking rather than pumping your fists.
Birds of Prey is everything you want from a comic book movie
A better movie to compare this to would be David Ayer’s Suicide Squad.
What Cathy Yan and Margot Robbie have done is make the movie that Suicide Squad so desperately wanted to be.
It’s loud, bombastic, brutal, rude, funny, violent, exhilarating, and most of it, it’s just good comic book movie fun.
This is a proper comic book movie. It looks, feels and sounds like it’s been ripped right off the page.
Of course, it hasn’t. It’s called Birds of Prey, but it shares very few similarities with the comics, and I think that’s a good thing.
This is very much Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn vehicle and she’s surrounded herself with some excellent and interesting side characters.
I think the Birds of Prey in this movie are so much more interesting than the rest of the Suicide Squad were.
The film does a similar thing to Suicide Squad in introducing each character individually, but it was just a lot easier to follow.
The characters also felt like they all had a purpose, which wasn’t the case with Ayer’s movie.
They all had an interesting backstory and agency and I liked each and every one of them.
Bring on the pulpy violence
Read more: John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum Review
It just made it even more special when they all came together to fight a bunch of bad guys at the end (spoilers – there’s a big fight at the end).
Apart from Robbie’s performance as Harley Quinn (which I think is perfect by the way), the other thing I really loved about Birds of Prey was the action set pieces.
You could tell that Yan worked with John Wick director Chad Stahelski in the film’s action scenes.
They feel very ‘John Wick’ and that’s a good thing. The John Wick movies have some of the best action scenes I’ve ever seen.
I’d argue that John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum is one of the best action films ever made, and Birds of Prey shares the same DNA.
I was watching the film at a critics’ screening and even so, people were still whooping, cheering and clapping during these scenes.
It does, however, suffer from a rather drab and formulaic plot. Harley Quinn’s broken up with the Joker. She’s no longer got his protection.
Literally everybody in Gotham wants to kill her, and she has to find a way to survive sans Jared Leto’s Joker.
I won’t spoil the rest of the plot, but that’s the beginning ten minutes in a nutshell.
Birds of Prey is a comic book movie you shouldn’t miss
Read more: Joker Review
It’s narrated by Harley Quinn herself, and she’s the perfect unreliable narrator, and I’m constantly baffled by how Robbie nailed the character’s voice.
Birds of Prey’s timeline also shifts around a bit, which could be considered to be confusing for some people.
However, I never lost interest in what was going on and I could follow everything.
Perhaps the rather simplistic nature of the plot helped with that.
I would be remised if I didn’t mention Ewan McGregor’s performance as the film’s bad guy, Roman Sionis, a.k.a. Black Mask.
He delivers a weird, wacky and erratic performance as the villain and brilliantly matches Robbie’s Quin.
I would say he’s one of the most fun villains I’ve seen in a comic book movie. He’s just very ‘comic book-y’ which I love.
The rest of the cast is good too, and I think there’s a lot of room for them to develop their characters in future Birds of Prey movies.
They need to make more of these
I really do hope they make more of these and expand this area of the DC universe.
It’s fun, pulpy, cheeky and proper comic book movie fun. There are some plot deficiencies, but those are quickly forgotten thanks to Robbie’s performance and the bombastic action.
It also has a cracking score, which is something that Suicide Squad tried to do, but failed.
The songs chosen for Birds of Prey are much better suited to the movie. Think more Guardians of the Galaxy and less Suicide Squad when it comes to the film’s song choices.
Birds of Prey is coming to UK and US cinemas on February 7th. I really don’t think you should miss it.
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