DC Comics and Warner Bros have had an interesting relationship as of late. Their new direction for some of comic’s best loved characters has been a divisive one. For every Wonder Woman there’s been a Suicide Squad, for every Joker there’s been a Justice League and now, riding on the tail of Joker (and Joaquin Phoenix’s) recent Oscar success comes Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey.
‘Wait a minute!’ I hear you say,
‘I thought the title was Birds of Prey: The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn?’ and to that I reply
‘Yes, you are quite correct and I compliment you on remembering that title so clearly’
However, over the movie’s opening weekend something happened. Warner Bros got quite excited about releasing a new movie based on one of their properties, but they forgot one thing. They forgot to market it up to high heaven so that people would actually see it. Joker was talked about months before it even came out, winning festival awards and even raising questions in the media about the influence of violence in cinema. What did Birds of Prey and The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn have? Two trailers and a poster. So, Warner Bros in all their infinite wisdom did the only thing they could do to boost ticket sales. They changed the title. So, for all intents and purposes this review will be about a little movie called Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey.
Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) has been dumped by Mr. J so now she’s out on her own and doing what everybody else does after a break up – partying and getting drunk. During her wild antics she attracts the attention of local crime lord, Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor) and realises her life has taken a turn for the worse. Seeing this as an opportunity to get rid of Gotham’s Clown Princess of Crime, Sionis sets about to bring her down. The problem is that he’s really underestimated his target and even worse, there are plenty of others who would like to see his head on a plate. So, after a diamond goes missing Sionis hires Harley to get it back so that he can reinstate his title as Gotham’s criminal kingpin.
Have you ever had one of those weeks? A bad break up over the weekend ruins your whole week, only for you to feel like a whole new person by the end of it. However, despite the name change, Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey is still the same movie. Margot Robbie returns from being arguably the best part of Suicide Squad prompting Warner Bros to put all their eggs in one basket, hoping that Robbie would be able to pull it off – and she does.
One of the biggest problems about Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey is expectations meeting reality. Half the audience want a comic book movie that’s extremely faithful to the comics and the other half probably saw Joker because of the awards buzz but had never seen a comic book movie before. So, when they heard about the Harley Quinn movie and her connection to Joker, they probably thought they were getting more or less the same thing. However, once both sides have reconciled with the fact that Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey scratches none of these itches then they’d really start to enjoy themselves.
Firstly, Margot Robbie is truly great, not only as Harley Quinn, but as a continuing screen presence. However, if you were expecting a Birds of Prey movie with a little Harley Quinn then you may be disappointed because she’s everywhere and this is pretty much her movie. Secondly, although the other characters bear very little resemblance to their characters in print, the film is made all the better for not having these strict constraints. if you were expecting the film to match exactly what was in your mind then you may have misunderstood what this film was in the first place – and that’s probably down to the marketing. Will the characters eventually get around to the way they are represented in the comics? Probably, but for now they are their own characters and the film is less of a comic book movie and more of a crime comedy along the lines of Midnight Run and The Big Lebowski. So, bearing this in mind you should get into the swing of things.
Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey (yes, I am going to keep using that title) is a fast, frenetic and fun movie with great action set pieces, a great soundtrack and you may never see your local takeaway shop in the same way even again. This is Harley F****ing Quinn and you had better throw all those comparisons to Deadpool out of the window while you’re at it because she’s very much her own person and this is definitely her movie. There may not be a sequel, there may not be a stand alone Birds of Prey movie, but right now Harley Quinn has had her moment in the sun and it was truly fantabulous.
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