Review: BIRDS OF PREY ‘Bop Bop, Baby…’

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Title: BIRDS OF PREY (AND THE FANTABULOUS EMANCIPATION OF ONE HARLEY QUINN)
MPAA Rating: R
Director:  Cathy Yan
Starring: Margot Robbie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Rosie Perez, Chris Messina, Ella Jay Basco, Ali Wong, and Ewan McGregor
Movie length: 1 hour 49 minutes

What it is: A sequel to 2016’s SUICIDE SQUAD, BIRDS OF PREY… sees Harley Quinn, striking out on her own after a bitter breakup with the Joker. In her new-found freedom, Harley finds challenges from every corner, from fending off the police attempting to catch her as well as various criminal factions running loose around Gotham, many of which are after a teenager who Harley finds herself protecting – Cassandra Cain (played by Ella Jay Basco) who has just happened to steal a diamond from Roman Sionis (aka, criminal ganglord Black Mask, played by Ewan McGregor). To get through it all, the pair find themselves in dire need of the company of likeminded compatriots…

What Dan thought: I thoroughly enjoyed BIRDS OF PREY…, it is a movie that definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously and is filled with some very over the top comic book style fight scenes.

Certainly, the movie starts off slow and deliberate but once the action picks up, the pace of the film is that of a rockin’ rollercoaster ride that just keeps going until the credits roll (PS. You may want to stay until the end of the credits…)

While Harley Quinn may be the primary character – as more than hinted at in the promotion for the film – the rest of the supporting roster all hold their own throughout, with compelling and intriguing backstories for Huntress (Winstead), Black Canary (Smollett-Bell), Renee Montoya (Perez) and Cassandra Cain (Basco – the niece of Dante Basco who played Rufio in the Steven Spielberg‘s HOOK, pub quiz fans!). Even the baddies get their fair slice of the cake with Roman Sionis being a showboating role for a very flamboyant McGregor, and Sionis’ giving plenty of menace as right-hand man Victor Zsasz (Messina).

The fight scenes feel very much out of the pages of a comic book – kudos are due for the stunt choreographers, the entire cast who did their own fight work, and the stunt team themselves. Also, due credit needs to be given to Daniel Pemberton for his work composing the music for the film (Pemberton already has the catalogue to stand behind but, when it comes to comicbook movies, he’s the chap who composed the score for SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE so, safe to say, he knows his stuff).

Speaking of the soundtrack for the film, the songs chosen for some of the fight scenes were nicely selected, with a couple of classic old school rock songs making an appearance, including Heart’s Barracuda and Ram Jam’s Black Betty – not entirely sure if what was featured was the original or a cover. Either way, they did the trick.

Directory Cathy Yan may not have many movies under her belt right now but here she does an outstanding job on this film, demonstrating a natural affinity for these characters and their world, as does writer Christina Hodson, taking as their cues some of the more recent HARLEY QUINN DC Comics runs, including a storyline by the superstar team of Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner. Also, it was great seeing a lot of the creators involved in the comics get special thanks in the credits (but as BOP‘s frequent comics writer Gail Simone has pointed out on social media, no on-screen credit was given to series creator Jordan Gorfinkel, which is a travesty).

Dan’s grade: B. This is one hell of a ride – muscular, lean, and sexy as hell. It’s a great summer blockbuster comic book movie and, while a cinematic continuation to the lumpen, uneven and disappointing SUICIDE SQUAD, thankfully BIRDS OF PREY… is nothing like it in that regard. Well worth grabbing your mates and enjoying on a wild night out!

BIRDS OF PREY (AND THE FANTABULOUS EMANCIPATION OF ONE HARLEY QUINN) is now playing in the US and UK.

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