The reviews for Birds of Prey have rolled in, and it’s time to see how the next DC film is going to fare. Lets take a look and see.
Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) is a shot of adrenaline right into the heart of the DCEU, giving it a sense of style, emotion and color that feels wholly unique, but still fits within this version of the DC Universe. It’s exactly the film that fans were hoping for.
The next step for DC films shows that the comic brand has an arsenal of characters that are tremendously interesting and should be explored further, but it does leave a lot of meat on the bone by focusing so heavily on the surefire box office draw that is Harley Quinn. The film starts off slowly and finds its stride in the second act, with McGregor’s villain being the entertaining standout while underutilizing some of its other more interesting characters. Birds of Prey is a good movie bogged down by a sluggish start. It is entertaining and a great starting point for some new characters on the big screen.
Every moment in this film is intoxicatingly fun and amusing. It is so evident that the cast and crew had an amazing time crafting this film into the entertaining extravaganza it is. This film will continue pave the way for strong female-made blockbusters. Every character has so much personality and the film will leave you wanting more. This film epitomizes fun and is absolute brilliance in every way, I personally cannot wait to see where they choose to take these characters next.
Yan finds plenty of opportunities for exciting set pieces: Extravagant action choreography makes the most of colorful set design, unlikely gimmicks and wrasslin’-style brutality. But Hodson’s script offers far less diverting banter than it might’ve between the fight scenes, and has a hard time imagining the unconstrained id that makes Harley Quinn so magnetic. One or two beautiful sequences — like the one in which Harley’s longing for a perfect breakfast sandwich leads to tragedy — don’t suffice to keep the character’s magnetic madness alive onscreen.
The script, by Christina Hodson (“Bumblebee”), has attitude to spare, but in a rather bare-bones way. It’s going for the sparky nihilist defiance of “Deadpool,” with a running fourth-wall-breaking commentary by Harley, and there are cheeky character IDs ripping across the screen, as when Harley discovers herself under attack by the driver behind her, identified as “Some Frida Kahlo-looking asshole” (which she indeed is). But if the film’s (black) heart is in the right acid place, “Birds of Prey” could have used more of the intricate cleverness of “Deadpool.” The actresses who come together to form Harley’s posse, like Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Roman’s nightclub chanteuse Black Canary or Ella Jay Basco as the wily Cassandra, have presence to spare, but you wish they’d been given more to do.
When it comes to the film’s titular wonder women, however, we are firmly drawn in as they fight for their lives and for their own agency. And if we don’t get quite enough insight into Renee or Dinah or Cassandra, hey, that’s what sequels are for, and “Birds of Prey” left me wanting one, which is about the most anyone can hope for in a big-screen comics adaptation.
It’s a film forged in the age of #MeToo / #TimesUp but wears any messaging lightly. This is just a group of women supporting each other, getting things done. It’s so much fun when the group finally come together, it feels like a misstep not getting them together sooner and more often. Save Harley, the characters aren’t deeply drawn but they are winningly played: Smollett-Bell is authentically hard-as-nails, Winstead is funny as an assassin who takes umbrage that people get her superhero name wrong, and Perez reminds you she is not in nearly enough movies. But the MVP is Robbie, who lends Harley charming quirk and believable menace, hinting at Harley’s inner life without reams of dialogue. When she’s on screen Birds Of Prey has the impact of a baseball bat to the head.
This is another outside-the-box artistic win for DC Films, breaking their curse of troubled ensemble films (Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad and Justice League) while not punishing or turning off anyone who enjoyed those flicks. In case it matters, I’d argue kids old enough to see hyper violent PG-13 movies can handle this R-rated film too. No spoilers, but the most disturbing bloodshed comes right near the beginning, and 99% of the violence is action movie carnage (with action movie profanity). It’s what we claim to want in our Hollywood blockbusters in regard to demographic representation and a diversity of genre and narrative. In terms of artistic potential, DC Films and Marvel are now on relatively equal footing. If you remember how good Pixar’s originals were when DreamWorks was nipping at their heels, that’s great news for both franchises.
Birds of Prey will hit theaters on Feb. 7.
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