The first superhero movie of 2020 has arrived in the form of “Birds of Prey”, a rock n’ rolling good time of color, energy, bone-crunches and girl power.
“Birds of Prey” is an unofficial sequel to “Suicide Squad” from 2016 in that it carries on the story of actor Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn character; which is a pretty good idea, considering she was the only redeeming part of that first movie. But the connection to that earlier, messier film may account for the movie’s poor box office showing in its opening weekend.
Which is a shame, because “Birds of Prey” is a heck of a lot of R-rated fun!
Harley Quinn is the longtime girlfriend and second banana to the Joker, the infamous Clown Prince of Crime. But now Harley and Joker have called it quits and she’s striking out on her own — only she quickly finds out that a lot of other criminals want her dead, and they only held off because she was the Joker’s gal.
So Harley has to team up with a whole squad of superhero ladies to take on the next most dangerous crime boss in Gotham City: the Black Mask!
“Birds of Prey” is what you get when a superhero movie is allowed to have fun. There’s an extremely manic energy to the film, both in the characters and their actions, as well as storytelling. Director Cathy Yan uses the madness of the Harley character to play with the storytelling in the movie, using flashbacks and parallel storytelling to twist things up a lot. I think it was done well.
The heart of the film is the characters. Margot Robbie really owns the Harley Quinn character at this point, injecting humor and pathos in equal measure. She works the spotlight like a seasoned pro. The rest of the cast, from the other Birds of Prey heroes to the dastardly criminal villains, create a very entertaining ensemble.
Part of me wishes the movie had more time to flesh out some of the supporting characters, but at least it does try to give everyone a unique character trait or two.
“Birds of Prey” then takes all these fun characters and puts them into a big, colorful roller coaster of a film, one that rarely lets up. Despite having a movie starring all women, “Birds of Prey” never uses its R-rating to overly sexualize them. Instead, it uses the mature rating to ramp up the violence into some hard-hitting, bone-crunching smackdowns. That’s far more entertaining.
Combining fun characters with a lot of energetic and flashy action makes “Birds of Prey” an early superhero success for the new year.
For more discussion on “Birds of Prey”, check out the Sentinel Cinema podcast at www.RomeSentinel.com, or find us on Spotify and Facebook.