Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Movie Review: BIRDS OF PREY (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020)



The wonderfully titled Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) is a DC Universe movie set in the same world as Suicide Squad, Justice League etc. With last year's stand-alone Joker movie, this can all be a bit confusing for the passing viewer. With more misses than hits, I can see the DC Movie Universe being split up even further in an attempt to tidy up the mistakes and catch up with Marvel. My prediction is that some DC movies will be swept under the carpet as though they never happened. I think Green Lantern may be under there already.

Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn debuted in the much-maligned Suicide Squad, and she was easily the best thing about that movie. I actually liked it for the most part, but I wanted to enjoy it more than I actually did. It felt like a missed opportunity, especially when it came to Jared Leto's Joker. I'm not a total hater. I think that version of the Joker worked more with the tone of the movie than the darker interpretations that fans have come to love would have done. The thing that really pissed me off was the relationship between Harley and Joker. Remember Joker jumping after her into that vat of chemicals? As if he'd have done that. In the source material (clever way of saying comics), he's a psycho who uses and abuses Harley and doesn't care about her at all. This would have made for some interesting angles in the film, instead of the Bonnie and Clyde love story they went with. Anyway, I've moved on from that. I'm also trying to erase Batfleck from my mind too.

Birds Of Prey is a huge improvement on Suicide Squad in every way. The movie focusses on Harley and her life after she breaks up with the Joker. Now she no longer has his protection, the vast number of enemies she has made along the way are all out for revenge.

SPOILERS AHEAD.

Jared Leto's Joker isn't in the film, not even for a flashback. Thank fuck for that. Now, let's continue.

Birds Of Prey is filmed like many of those Tarantino-esque films, where the main character narrates to the audience, characters get introduced, and the timeline jumps around. It works really well for this film, as it gives it a light-hearted gangster style vibe, like 'supervillans-meets-Snatch'.

Of all of the villains out to get Harley, the biggest problem for her is the crime-boss The Black Mask, played by Ewan McGregor. Harley makes a deal to keep herself alive by volunteering to return a missing diamond. The diamond had been stolen by a young pickpocket who swallowed it to keep itself. To spice things up, The Black Mask put a bounty on her head, so every villain in Gotham is out to get her at the same time as Harley. Naturally, Harley ends up trying to keep her alive and protects her from the bounty hunters. That's the crux of the story anyway.

We're also introduced to Black Canary, The Huntress, and Detective Renee Montoya who form the crime fighting team Birds Of Prey at the end of the movie.

Casting Ewan McGregor as the villain was a smart move. His performance, along with Margot Robbie's lifts this movie into being something really special.

Birds Of Prey is packed with action, comedy, witty dialogue, and plenty of creativity. The pacing is great too ensuring that there are no dull moments. It's a fun popcorn supervillain movie that doesn't take itself too seriously.

DC has put out some disappointing crap over the last few years, but Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn may have saved the day. She's awesome and I enjoyed this movie way more than Aquaman, Justice League (read my review here) and even the surprisingly good Shazam. I'm looking forward to the upcoming James Gunn directed Suicide Squad sequel even more now.



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