Review – Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey

Since we are all stuck inside due to the Coronavirus. Warner Bros. did us a solid and released Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey earlier to purchase on streaming sites. I’m not going to lie, my expectations for this film were probably the lowest they could be for a film in the DC universe. Joker left a bad taste in my mouth and with very little, known, direction with these characters and essentially film universe what was there to really be excited about?

Synopsis

It’s open season on Harley Quinn when her explosive breakup with the Joker puts a big fat target on her back. Unprotected and on the run, Quinn faces the wrath of narcissistic crime boss Black Mask, his right-hand man, Victor Zsasz, and every other thug in the city. But things soon even out for Harley when she becomes unexpected allies with three deadly women — Huntress, Black Canary and Renee Montoya.

The Numbers

per box office mojo

Budget – $84,500,000
Domestic Gross – $84,158,461
International Gross – $117,700,000
Worldwide Gross – $201,858,461
Weeks in Theaters – 7

Build up

The previous film starring Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn was the abysmal 2016 unicorn fart of a film Suicide Squad. While that film does have a few redeeming qualities. Mainly Margot Robbie, Jai Courtney and Will Smith as their respective characters. Finding a way for DC to distance themselves from that abomination should have been a priority for WB. Instead they decided to build off of what that film created and attempt a course correction.

Using Harley Quinn was the obvious choice. Her popularity has grown exponentially over the years. Especially since Margot Robbie donned the over sexualized attire in 2016. The only concern was bringing in lesser known characters to try and fill out a movie.

Let’s face it, Huntress, Black Canary, Rene Montoya and Cassandra Cain are not the most recognizable DC characters. Definitely not with those who don’t read comics. They then had the risk of confusing some by using Cassandra Cain (who eventually becomes Batgirl in the comics) when CW just introduced Batwoman whose name is Kate Kane. With all that aside the real concern should have been the perceived and apparent WOMAN POWER movement this film was portraying.

Raise your hand if you stopped watching Supergirl or Batwoman due to the constant feminist approach shoved down your throats on a weekly basis. Go ahead, I know you want to raise your hand. No judgement here. So, why would WB think that a film chock full of female empowerment would succeed when two of their CW shows, which are doing the same thing, continue to fall in the ratings week after week?

Very curious indeed. But perhaps it was the belief that Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) would sell the tickets. Unfortunately after 7 weeks in theaters the film was barely able to rake in over $200 million. A far cry from Suicide Squads $746 million in its theatrical run.

Review

As I stated above my expectations for this film were lowest of the low. I worried about the feminist push, I worried about the direction of the universe and I worried about the additions of Huntress and Black Canary. Those worries were actually warranted.

The empowering of women is absolutely the point of this film. Just look at the original title of the movie.

Once Upon A Time In... Gotham | Birds Of Prey | Trailer - YouTube

But the thing is. It’s done well and not shoved in your face. Harley and Joker split up. She decided to attempt and make a name for herself believing she no longer needs the controlling psychopath’s name to protect her anymore. Renee Montoya was duped out of a promotion at work due to her former, MALE, partner taking credit for her work. He then continuously pushes her down causing her to never get anywhere in her job.

Huntress and Black Canary are a little less on the “Screw the man” side of things but, they have pasts which show they have to become strong women in this world to survive.

We then have Ramone Sionis, Black Mask, who absolutely has some issues with women in general. Ewan McGregor does a bang up job portraying the gangster. His relationship with Victor Zsasz an assassin and confidant seems to hint that there may be more going on there than the writers were willing to share.

The DC film universe, or the DCEU, is still unestablished. While BoP makes it apparent this film takes place after Suicide Squad and that there is a billionaire named Bruce Wayne in Gotham, very few nods or additional connections are made to the grander scheme of things. You can take this as good or bad. The focus on the film itself and not straying from the story to explore the deeper universe is a plus. But fans have been clamoring for solid evidence of a bigger universe since 2016. It’s time WB/DC gave it to us.

The portrayals of the characters is absolutely spot on and begs to question if fans will ever stop complaining about casting choices before seeing movies.

The outcry about Jurnee Smollett-Bell being cast as Black Canary was absolutely ridiculous. She did a FANTABULOUS (see what I did there?) job as Dinah Lance. We then have Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Huntress. Which if you ask me was the stand out of the movie despite having the shortest amount of screen time. Rosie Perez as Renee Montoya wasn’t anything overly special. She isn’t exactly a character in the history of the DC universe that is memorable or holds specific traits. Essentially Perez was able to just run with what felt right for the movie and she did just that. Finally, Ella Jay Basco as Cassandra Cain was just….. meh. Even with her being the mcguffin of the film, sorta, she just wasn’t given A LOT to work with.

Simply put this movie is tons of fun for everyone. While it doesn’t build on the grander universe. The introduction of these characters is begging for possibilities in which to continue with them. Honestly, I could see a Gotham centric universe built with the Birds of Prey running around coming into contact with the Bat Family from time to time. Again, the possibilities are endless.

So, go buy or rent this movie. Let WB know that we want a sequel. With the abysmal box office numbers I worry that they will not seriously consider a follow up.

Author: Robert Slavinsky

Robert Hosts Shootin' The Sith a Star Wars podcast and is a passionate fan of comics books and movies.

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