It’s fair to compare Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) to Deadpool for reasons pertinent to both comic book and cinema: Harley Quinn and the ” ‘merc with a mouth” were both breakout characters in the early 2010s thanks to their anarchic, fourth wall-breaking antics. That it took them another half-decade to factor into films was a surprise. That it took them another few years to star in films featuring action choreography by the John Wick crew is a happy coincidence. However, unlike Deadpool‘s mediocre outings (led by the endlessly annoying Ryan Reynolds), Birds of Prey is actually good, a blend of character and humor that doesn’t feel as impressed with itself as its tonal brother across the aisle.
Aly’s review of Birds of Prey from its theatrical release goes into what makes the movie sing for audiences of young women vested in the characters, so go read that. As a fan of comics and comic book films in general, the movie sticks out thanks to its keen direction by Cathy Yan, aforementioned stunt choreography and insanely unique costume design by Erin Benach. Most superhero films go for an action-figure-accurate look; Birds of Prey brings in color, form and relative functionality while still maintaining a cool factor. The movie is as colorful and aesthetically outrageous as the title character.
Speaking of Harley, Margot Robbie makes good on the perfect casting in a way she wasn’t able to in David Ayer’s lame Suicide Squad back in 2016. She was still great there, working with the limited material given, but here she’s terrifying, funny and everything in between. Her eventual team of with Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) and Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) are all given real characters with stories of their own that weave in and out of Harley’s theatrical point-of-view as she tells of her adventures post-breakup with the Joker.
Mercifully, Jared Leto is nowhere to be found, replaced by a much more fun villain in the form of Black Mask (Ewan McGregor), who hams it up to the extreme.
Given that no more movies seem to be coming out in 2020, it’s a happy thought that we at least got a very good superhero movie before everything went to shit.
Extras include a gag reel and multiple making-of featurettes.