Certificate – 15
Directed By – Cathy Yan
Starring – Margot Robbie, Ewan McGregor, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rosie Perez, Ella Jay Basco, Chris Messina.
Running Time – 109 Minutes (1 Hour 49 Minutes)
2020 could be described as a Harley Quinn year, not just in the world of movies and TV, but in the world in general. Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn was the last movie I saw in my local cinema before the world was on fire.
Since then Harley Quinn has returned to our screens in the form of the utterly fantastic animated series on E4 showcasing, like the movie, how you can do a terrific job of bringing this character into the R-rating world.
I got a lot more joy rewatching the movie for this blu-ray review then I could’ve hoped for, and I’m pissed this movie wasn’t a bigger success at the box office. However, I feel it’ll find its audience in home entertainment.
What Is Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn) About?
Ever heard the one about the cop, the songbird, the psycho and the mafia princess? BoP HQ is a twisted tale told by Harley (Robbie) herself, as only Harley can tell it. When Gotham’s most nefariously narcissistic villain, Roman Sionis (McGregor), and his zealous right-hard, Victor Zsasz (Messina), put a target on a young girl named Cass (Basco), the city is turned upside down looking for her.
Harley, Huntress (Winstead), Black Canary (Smollet-Bell) and Renee Montoya’s (Perez) path collide, and the unlikely foursome have no choice but to team up to take Roman down.
Is It Any Good?
I said in my original movie that this is a cracking time at the cinema and enjoyed a lot of it. Rewatching it, I can safely state that I love this movie.
I caught a lot more this time around than I initially did the times I saw in the cinema, especially with Harley herself. With a little help from the Being Harley Quinn episode from the animated series, you understand that even if she didn’t fall in love with Joker that Harley most likely became a villain in her own right similar to The Riddler.
You also see the double sides of one Harley Quinn, the “wacky” side that makes her a compelling character. Then the human Hareleen that was only touched upon by David Ayer in Suicide Squad (maybe see more in the Ayer cut fingers crossed) and brought more by Yan.
In many ways, the film is Harley taking on the five stages of grief following the break-up with Mr J.
We didn’t see a lot of it but Denial (keeping the break-up secret from everyone), Anger (Roller Derby, blowing up Ace Criminals), Bargaining (literally bargaining her life for the diamond), Depression (the VO and two-thirds of the film).
Then finally ending with Acceptance (the final act onwards).
Once again Robbie is Harley and will forever be in live-action as she plays the character so wonderfully and the fact she gets under Roman Sionis’ skin so easily using her background in psychology to wind him up even more.
Finally, Harley is the only character I can think of that has two themes to fit two different moods, and they work fantastically – the piano in Jokes On You and Daniel Pemberton’s kick-ass guitar riff.
Meanwhile, McGregor steals the movie as Sionis and it’s even clearer this time around. The Scottish actor balances so many different aspects of the character from the humour to one of the scariest moments I can remember in a superhero movie.
He’s a vein, showman, who’s gay but incredibly dangerous and terrifying. He is a great Roger Moore Bond villain.
With the comedy, I had to rewind to watch the scene where Sionis shows Canary his apartment twice just because of the full-on campness and entitlement. It’s even funny when he’s killing people at the beginning.
However, you see glimpse throughout, the moment Black Mask fully appears in the nightclub scene hammers the fact this is an evil piece of shit and will forever be hard to watch.
For that full respect to McGregor, Smollett-Bell and Bojana Novakovic to bring that scene to life and for Yan to film and fought for the scene to be in the final cut.
Smollett-Bell and Winstead are perfect for Black Canary and Huntress. I genuinely hope we see more of them as especially together have this sister relationship where Dinah annoys Helena (look for Dinah’s facial reactions to Helena).
Additionally, I think every nerd who fell in love with Winstead thanks to Scott Pilgrim saw Ramona Flowers reappear all these years later but now with the skills to give Batman a test.
Yan does a wonderful job for creating a solo film, but aside spiritual sequel to Ayer’s Suicide Squad with hints in the movie and she’s was helped by Christina Hodson’s killer script.
Finally, I mentioned him briefly, but Pemberton’s score is unbelievable as not only has he given Harley two awesome themes, but his Hurtness theme is rivalling Hans Zimmer’s Wonder Woman theme as my favourite.
Anything Bad About The Film?
These are only nip-picky things that were seen after rewatching it.
However, the title is too long and something similar along the lines of Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey might’ve helped get more bums in theatres.
While we know this film is centred in Harley’s head, it would’ve been nice to see more from the Birds of Prey, but hopefully that comes in their own movie of Carney/Huntress film.
The pacing was an issue and again it’s Harley telling us the story, but it felt all over the place sadly.
Finally, without giving too much away, I would’ve loved if they kept to the comics near the end when it came to Black Mask as it would’ve fitted the character better.
As It Got Any Special Features?
Yeah, it got some dope features including a different version of a commentary and a gag reel.
- Birds Eye View Mode – Commentary but with cast and crew pop up on the screen with BTS footage playing next to the scene and trivia showing up throughout the movie.
- Birds of Prey: Birds of a Feather
- Grime and Crime
- Wild Nerds
- Sanity is Sooo Last Season
- A Love/Skate Relationship
- Gag Reel
While I have some nip-picking, I love this movie from Robbie’s lead, McGregor stealing the whole film in many ways and hope we see more from Smollett-Bell and Winstead. Yan brought this spiritual sequel to life and Pemberton added a kick-ass score.