“Birds of Prey” Review: A Raucous Roller-coaster of Joy

Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) is officially in theaters! But is it another Suicide Squad or is it a Wonder Woman?

When Suicide Squad was released in 2016, the trailers made it seem as if it would be a music fueled action comedy that featured a wide range of DC villains. There was also some expectation that the Joker would be the main villain given the way the marketing focused on him excessively. What we received instead was a convoluted mess that was the epitome of studio interference ruining a cool concept. Four years later we have Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), a music fueled action comedy with a wide range of DC heroes and villains, and a crystal clear main antagonist who chews scenery and makes you laugh and want to strangle him. It’s everything we yearned for four years ago, but better.

Birds of Prey begins with Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and the Joker breaking up. Once news spreads, Harley becomes the most wanted woman in Gotham- because she’s pissed off a lot of people, and she doesn’t have Joker to protect her anymore. Before, people didn’t touch her because they feared what Joker would do in retaliation, now, she’s fair game. Meanwhile, Roman Sionis aka Black Mask (Ewan McGregor), is working to grow his crime empire after being shut out from the family business. The key to his growth lies within a diamond that is being transported into Gotham, and is worth more than any other simple diamond. When the diamond is stolen from Roman’s right hand man Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina) by Cassandra “Cass” Cain (Ella Jay Basco), Roman sends everyone in Gotham after Cass, including Harley.

As the hunt for the diamond takes place we meet the Birds of Prey- Detective Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), Dinah Lance aka Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) and Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). These three women are some of the most iconic characters in the DC comics roster, and their introduction on the big screen is something that any DC fan would look forward to. While Harley Quinn has taken pop culture by storm in recent years, these three are just as big and important in the comics and other media. Luckily Writer Christina Hodson and Director Cathy Yan have taken these characters and presented them in a way which honors every version of them and makes their introduction in film well worth the wait.

Birds of Prey
Image via WB

The introduction of Montoya, Dinah and Huntress isn’t the only thing that Yan and Hodson excel at. Every aspect of the film is firing on all cylinders. The film is full of action scenes that are better than any of the action pieces in the entirety of the DCEU thus far. The comedy is fantastic and nonstop throughout. The characters are all perfect adaptations of their comic book counter parts, with some great modern flair. The soundtrack is spot on, and every single moment where music is played under the action of the film is pure magic. This is exactly the film you want it to be going in, and it delivers everything you could want or expect, and more.

Birds of Prey is a satisfying example of how DC can do better by giving their characters to amazing artists and letting them fly free. This is a film that will fill you with joy and give you everything you could possibly want from start to finish. You will love these characters, and want more of them the moment the film is over. It’s full of awesome female empowerment, which is done in a way that is real and firmly fits the film. The story is simple enough to let the film focus on the characters, and in turn give you more reason to be invested in every aspect of the film. There are some small pacing issues in the first act, but the film makes up for it throughout with every single thing that it gives us along the way.

There are a million reasons to love Birds of Prey, and it is honestly one of the most satisfying experiences I have had in theaters. Seeing these characters in the way they should be presented on screen, including Harley Quinn, fills this DC fan with immense joy. Seeing Ewan McGregor chew the scenery as a deliciously devious and incredibly cruel and sadistic Black Mask, is more entertaining than I could possibly explain. While the film focuses more on Harley than the Birds of Prey, Cathy Yan and Christina Hodson have given us a film that honors everything the original Birds of Prey comic series- and writer Gail Simone- gave us. It’s a film by women, that features kick ass women, doing kick ass things. The best way to describe it is to quote Gail Simone, “The characters don’t apologize for being asskickers, nor for being smart, nor for being sexy, nor for being sexual, for that matter.” That’s what this film is, and it’s exactly the type of film we need more of.

Rating: A

Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) is currently playing in theaters.

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Birds of Prey Poster
Image via WB

Written by Alex Lancaster
(Alex is a life long film fan, and has dedicated his life to watching, making and obsessing over films. His favorite film is Big Fish, and he despises Avatar. He has a 5 year old son. And a bad habit of saying more than he needs to. Follow 
@alex5348 on Twitter)

 

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