19th Jun2020

‘Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)’ Blu-ray Review

by Alex Ginnelly

Stars: Margot Robbie, Rosie Perez, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Ewan McGregor, Ella Jay Basco, Chris Messina, Ali Wong | Written by Christina Hodson | Directed by Cathy Yan

A little messy, a little all over the pace, but a lot of fun. The DCEU has had rough time of late. With films such as Suicide Squad, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Justice League, all receiving scathing reviews. This put so much pressure on the shoulders of the latest installment of the universe, and on the shoulders of Margot Robbie.

As one of the only shinning lights to come out of Suicide Squad, it was easy to see that she was perfectly cast as Harley Quinn, so much so, that I’m convinced she should just be given the rights that that character now. It’s hard to imagine that anyone else could possibly play Harley Quinn and in Birds of Prey, she reminds us all just of fabulous she is.

Birds of Prey, or Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, as the full title reads, pucks up after Suicide Squad but now Harley Quinn and the Joker have broken up. Once word hits the streets that Harley is on her own, it’s open season. Every hitman and mercenary is out to get her, including Ewan McGregor. McGregor plays The Black Mask, a villain plucked straight out of the Batman comic books, this portrayal unfortunately didn’t exactly live up to the character. The biggest problem with the movie for me was this portrayal, it felt overly campy and not in the single bit scary. I wanted a villain I was afraid of, that I actually though might pose a threat to Harley Quinn, but I just didn’t. When McGregor was on screen I had little care for what was going on. The film really came to life in the hands of Margot Robbie and her supporting cast of “Birds”.

Jurnee Smollett-Bell plays Black Canary, Black Masks driver with a killer singing voice. Her performance surprised me the most and I loved every second of screen time she got. Both her and Margot Robbie play with their roles so brilliantly and they definitely feel the most alive on screen. The rest of the cast are great as well and provide so much fun, most of this fun comes in the action set pieces, with some of the best fight choreography I’ve seen in any comic book movie. The fight scenes are fun and inventive, they always feel fresh and Cathy Yan allows the camera to follow the action so we never feel lost.

Birds of Prey really comes to life though in the hands of Margot Robbie, I’ve mentioned her already in this review, but it truly is her film. The film isn’t without its faults, it feels very sloppy and rushed in the first act, the narrative structure tries to take an approach Deadpool took in his film. It felt used up and it’s a narrative I’m bored of seeing. The story jumps about and sometimes feels messy, but with Margot Robbie the main focus a lot of this structure is easy to forgot about. You’re so caught up in her performance and start to have fun with her that it’s easy to forgot about any problems the film has. It makes you wonder that if Suicide Squad was just a Harley Quinn film it might have been a lot of fun.

I’m interested to see where the DC universe goes from here but it’s a step on the right direction. I’ll certainly be there to see Harley Quinn’s next outing in James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad, set for an August 2021 release date. For now though, go out and support Birds of Prey, it’s a lot of fun and you’ll definitely get your money’s worth.

Blu-ray Special Features:

  • Birds Eye View Mode
  • Birds of Prey: Birds of a Feather
  • Grime and Crime
  • Wild Nerds
  • Romanesque
  • Sanity is Sooo Last Season
  • A Love/Skate Relationship
  • Gag Reel

*** 3/5

Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn is out now on DVD, Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD.

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