Citizens of Gotham, meet the Birds Of Prey!
The comic book genre is evolving, some argue for the worst others would say for the better. Either way, like I've said a dozen times before, the 2020s will be a strange time for superhero movies. So far, the first comic book film of the decade "Birds of Prey" (2020) came out on the 6th and as per usual it is my job now to give my honest thoughts on the film.
So for background, who are the Birds of Prey? Well, they are a DC Comics comic series of all female superheroes. The roster is ever-changing but the usual line up includes these individuals. Black Canary - A martial artist with a sonic scream aka her canary cry- and Huntress - An expert marksman with a crossbow. The two in the comics are assisted by a genius computer hacker named Oracle who was once the famous Batgirl before being wheelchair-bound thanks to the Joker. All nerdiness aside, basically this is a team of female superheroes that take care of the smaller crimes in Gotham while the Bat is taking on bigger threats. And while other comic book companies have tried to capitalize on the success of female lead teams (*cough* marvel *cough) The Birds of Prey are one of the few female teams that have been able to stand the test of time. So how does their first film hold up you may ask?
The film stars Margot Robbie reprising her role as Harley Quinn. The premise is simple, Harley has broken up with her toxic, manipulative boyfriend The Joker. Now on her own, it's a wacky adventure of Harley trying to get back on her feet and showing Gotham who's number one. While Harley has never been associated with the "Birds of Prey" in the comics, actress Margot Robbie was the one who suggested the creation of the film in the first place. In a recent interview, Robbie explained how she went to the heads of WB and expressed interest in more Harley Quinn projects after "Suicide Squad" (2016). With that, Robbie wanted to give other female characters from DC a chance at the limelight. Thus, this film was made.
Director of "Birds Of Prey" (2020): Cathy Yan Giphy
I saw this on Thursday night, the sixth, at the good old Athena Cinema on Court Street. I honestly was just hoping the film would be good. Mainly because I don't want to hear for another five months how female comic films can't work. They can, Marvel just can't do them right. Anyway, the film is a very wacky adventure with a lot of cursing, violence and killer music. Robbie really does put on a heck of a performance as Harley. In a strange way, Harley seems to have been given even more personality than her last stellar performance. You can tell a lot of work and passion went into this film as each scene didn't feel tacked on. Without spoiling anything, the way the film incorporates exposition without forcing it down our throats is excellent. The writer for the film, Christina Hodson really did an excellent job of making sure every story of the different characters intersected in a believable and entertaining way.
Speaking of the other birds we have Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), and Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco). Each "Bird" gave an entertaining performance with Jurnee's character really being a highlight. Her portrayal of Black Canary is one where you can just tell she worked hard to perfect. From the attitude to the micro-expressions and the subtle body language, her character felt very real in this universe. That uncomfortable body language came in handy especially with the antagonist of the film Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor). He also had a standout performance. As a Batman fan, I was really entertained with his performance as it felt like Black Mask was ripped straight out of the comics. The mood swings, the grotesque torture, the manipulation it all was entertaining.
Jurnee Smollet-Bell as The Black Canary! Giphy
In the end, I highly recommend "Birds of Prey" (2020). Is it the best comic book film of all time? No, there are definitely better ones with a more structured story. But if you are just looking for a fun movie to watch this week with a bunch of your friends then this film is definitely the one. That and there really isn't anything else out right now. So go out and see "Birds of Prey," and be ready for a blood-filled comedic adventure that just so happens to be filled with girl power.