Sunday, February 9, 2020


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Birds of Prey

and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn

Directed by Cathy Yan

'Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn' is gutsy, raw, twisted, and oh so much fun. It's 'Kill Bill' meets 'Deadpool' and it's a blast. Unlike 'Deadpool' (which was also an R-rated comic book film), 'Birds of Prey' was not marketed properly. It's already facing criticism because it didn't give fanboys nudity and sex appeal. It focused on women AS HUMAN BEINGS, not objects of sexual pleasure.

Birds of Prey is NOT a Flop

I'm writing part of this post on Saturday. Yet disgruntled fanboys are claiming victory for the sex appeal theory because 'Birds of Prey' is not meeting box office expectations. The echo chamber of the film news world is adding fuel to the fire.

Cinema Blend claims 'Birds of Prey's "opening weekend is underwhelming," The Wrap says 'Birds of Prey' "lays an egg," The Hollywood Reporter says 'Birds of Prey' "flies off course with a $13 million opening." All of these publications make sure to add the words "female-led" before discussing a disappointing box office run.
Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn | costuming in 'Suicide Squad' 2016 versus 'Birds of Prey' 2020
'Suicide Squad' produced by Atlas Entertainment, DC Comics DC Entertainment,
Dune Entertainment (in association with) (as RatPac-Dune Entertainment), & Warner Bros.
'Birds of Prey' produced by Clubhouse Pictures (II), DC Entertainment,
Kroll & Co. Entertainment, & LuckyChap Entertainment | 2020
Yet 'Birds of Prey' has grossed $34 million domestically and $48 million overseas for a total of $82 million. But the actual numbers don't matter. Facts don't matter. An 81% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and $82 million gross don't matter. The misogynist mainstream film news media has an agenda and they're sticking with it! That agenda is...
'Birds of Prey' isn't "sexy" enough so it's doomed to fail.
This agenda considers an $82 million gross a flop even before the weekend is over. We've yet to see the totals from Sunday. If I were a betting person, I would bet that 'Birds of Prey' will exceed earning expectations next weekend (Valentine's Day weekend). With an $85 million budget, it will definitely recoup its budget and make a tidy profit.

Is a comic book film a flop if it doesn't reach a billion dollars? Lastly, why should any of us care how much money film executives are making in the first place? So what's the point? The point is to put women in their place. The mainstream film news media still doesn't see women as fully fleshed people. Women are not desirable unless they're secondary characters in skintight leather or love interests.
If a comic book movie doesn't cater to men and teenage boys, the movie won't sell. 
I guess we shouldn't be surprised. After all, Hollywood is a land of myths and legends. So why not this one? When a film like 'Green Lantern' goes down. It's bad writing. A film like 'Elektra' goes down, it's because the main character is female. How many times have we heard this lie before? And let's be very clear, 'Birds of Prey' did NOT go down. It succeeded where many films fail and it will be profitable. 'Wonder Woman,' 'Captain Marvel,' and now 'Birds of Prey' prove this myth wrong.

Birds of Prey Film Review

Geez, sorry I got distracted there. I guess I should discuss the film right? If you couldn't guess, 'Birds of Prey' is one of the best comic book films I've seen and it's definitely one of the best released by Warner Brothers/DC Comics (WB/DC). WB/DC is not known for high-quality comic book films until 'Wonder Woman' and 'Aquaman' brought them out of the dark ages. Even now WB/DC is trying to resurrect Batman for the millionth time. How many Batmans are we going to get this century?
Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Margot Robbie in 'Birds of Prey' | Clubhouse Pictures (II), DC Entertainment, Kroll & Co. Entertainment, & LuckyChap Entertainment | 2020
Harley Quinn [to Dinah]

'Birds of Prey' is a sequel to 2016's 'Suicide Squad,' which highlighted the dysfunctional relationship between Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and the Joker. Right from the start, the pounding feminine soundtrack lets you know this is not like any comic book movie you've seen before. And Harley Quinn is not your average character. She's a villain, she's insane, and she's co-dependent. She's not a heroine with a noble calling. She's a selfish semi-compassionate killer.
Margot Robbie in 'Birds of Prey'  | Clubhouse Pictures (II), DC Entertainment, Kroll & Co. Entertainment, & LuckyChap Entertainment | 2020
Harley Quinn [to Dinah]

For reasons not shown onscreen, the Joker dumps Harley, which sets the story into motion. Harley doesn't take the break up well. She adopts a hyena, kills a few people, breaks legs, parties with frienemies, watches trash tv, and eats cheese whiz straight out of the bottle. The trash tv and cheese whiz part are totally relatable! Harley mends her heart the best way she can by blowing up the chemical plant where she and Joker cemented their love. Destroying the symbol of their love alerts the criminal underworld to the demise of their relationship.

The Joker's fierce reputation protected Harley from all of her enemies, which are MANY. Various criminals come out of the woodwork to get a piece of Harley for past wrongdoings. By happenstance, she meets Dinah Lance/Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell). Dinah has a killer voice (obviously) and is a singer at Roman Sionis'/Black Mask's (Ewan McGregor) club.
Ewan McGregor in 'Birds of Prey' | Clubhouse Pictures (II), DC Entertainment, Kroll & Co. Entertainment, & LuckyChap Entertainment | 2020
Roman [to Zsasz]

Roman is an interesting villain with a flair for the dramatic. He's narcissistic, insecure, paranoid, and funny. It's a mix we've seen before, but McGregor gives us enough "oomph" that his character feels unique. If Roman's humor makes you doubt his psychopathy, there is one scene of graphic violence that seals the deal. I turned my head away and would have preferred not to see it, but the violence and the language assure its R-rating. An R-rating I wish the 'Suicide Squad' had if the filmmakers were braver.
Jurnee Smollett-Bell in 'Birds of Prey' | Clubhouse Pictures (II), DC Entertainment, Kroll & Co. Entertainment, & LuckyChap Entertainment | 2020
Harley Quinn [to everyone]

Harley breaks the legs of Roman's driver (Daniel Bernhardt) drawing the attention of Roman and merciless killer for hire Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina). You can tell that McGregor had a lot of fun in this role. As a seasoned actor, he brought the character's quirks to life. He's so entertaining to watch, especially when he's interacting with the other actors. He has a playful scene with Dinah when he recruits her as his driver after seeing her in a street fight (saving Harley from two rapey guys with a van). Roman shows Dinah his macabre collection of shrunken heads and of course his black mask. His presence is threatening, yet sincere.

Dinah has no choice but to accept Roman's offer. Things GET REAL when a young pickpocket, Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), who Dinah has a soft spot for, picks the wrong pocket. Cassandra steals Roman's diamond.
Ella Jay Basco in 'Birds of Prey' | Clubhouse Pictures (II), DC Entertainment, Kroll & Co. Entertainment, & LuckyChap Entertainment | 2020
Writer Christina Hodson brilliantly weaves all of the different storylines into one cohesive loom. Despite their supporting roles, Renee Montoya ((Rosie Perez), Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Cassandra, and Black Canary are fully fleshed-out characters.

Montoya has been passed over for promotions by her captain who took credit for her work. She's a tough disgruntled detective who talks like she's in an 80's crime drama (purposely). The film acknowledges its flaws, which makes it all the more enjoyable.
Margot Robbie and Ewan McGregor in 'Birds of Prey' | Clubhouse Pictures (II), DC Entertainment, Kroll & Co. Entertainment, & LuckyChap Entertainment | 2020
Harley Quinn

Huntress is the sole survivor of her family's massacre. Her Mafia-connected family was gunned down and their diamond is stolen. She comes back to Gotham for what else? REVENGE.

Dinah comes from a rough neighborhood and her mother was killed fighting the crime she now ignores. Cassandra is a down on her luck orphan with an abusive adoptive family, who pickpockets to survive.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Rosie Perez in 'Birds of Prey' | Clubhouse Pictures (II), DC Entertainment, Kroll & Co. Entertainment, & LuckyChap Entertainment | 2020
Montoya [to Harley]

Harley Quinn [to Montoya]

We meet Montoya at a crime scene involving the murder of four mafia guys killed with a crossbow. Hmmm. Who else uses crossbows? The film smartly keeps the audience in the dark by mixing up the timeline. The timeline goes back and forth a bit, revealing just what we need to know. In the midst of the crossbow case, Montoya is trying to make a case against Roman and enlists Dinah's help.

Had this film been written or directed by the usual suspects, it would have been a hodgepodge mess, similar to the poorly written 'Suicide Squad.' Instead of a cohesive and smart film, we would have gotten a sexist script of what David Ayer THINKS FEMALE COMIC BOOK FANS WANT.
Margot Robbie in 'Birds of Prey' | Clubhouse Pictures (II), DC Entertainment, Kroll & Co. Entertainment, & LuckyChap Entertainment | 2020
Harley Quinn [to Cassandra]

When Cassandra is picked up by the police for theft, Harley manages to make a deal with Roman to bring Cassandra to him, in exchange for her own life. What follows is a great scene of Harley kicking butt and chewing gum (and she's all out of bubble gum). Harley's effervescent kicks, flips, cartwheels, and bean bag gun that shoots glitter are hilariously outlandish. It's about as outlandish as Uma Thurman jumping around with a samurai sword. The film doesn't take itself too seriously, so just go with it. Because it works!

Harley's motives are selfish, but she sure is fun to watch. The film has a satisfying conclusion when all of the characters come together to fight Roman. My one complaint about the film is the lack of Black Canary's scream until the end. They alluded to her powers earlier in the film, but we don't get to see her supersonic scream until one of the final scenes.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead in 'Birds of Prey' | Clubhouse Pictures (II), DC Entertainment, Kroll & Co. Entertainment, & LuckyChap Entertainment | 2020
Huntress [to Dinah]

All of the actors are excellent. There is no dead weight in this film. I'm not a big fan of Winstead, but her aloof cool demeanor serves her well in this film. She does good work as an assassin with a heart of gold, bent on revenge. Smollett-Bell is a bright spot too. I've seen her in a few films over the years and I didn't really notice her. She stands out in this film with her sultry singing, quippy delivery, and rough edges.

This is a popcorn movie, not to be taken seriously. As most comic book films are not to be taken seriously. I'm not sure when we started to think comic book films were refined "theater?" Admittedly, Marvel had one heck of a run, especially with its 'Captain America' series, but it's DC's turn to take the wheel and they are showing their cheeky amusing side and I'M HERE FOR IT. Hopefully, DC will continue to open up its catalog of characters like the ones featured in this film.
Rosie Perez, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Margot Robbie, Ella Jay Basco, and Jurnee Smollett-Bell in 'Birds of Prey' | Clubhouse Pictures (II), DC Entertainment, Kroll & Co. Entertainment, & LuckyChap Entertainment | 2020
The film also embraces diversity by adding wonderful actresses of color, such as Perez, Smollett-Bell, and Basco. We rarely see multiple actresses of color in ONE FILM sharing scenes together. Three women of color in a mainstream non-ethnically focused film is almost unheard of.

Of course, the shining star is Margot Robbie. Robbie is probably one of the finest actors of her generation. I'm sure when she first walked into Hollywood, the powers (pervs) that be thought she was just another pretty face. Well, they were wrong. Robbie is an exceptional actor with a talent for accents and physical comedy. Robbie is so good that you don't know she's acting, which is the sign of a master. Some may think she's a little young for that title, but whatever it is, she has it.

I highly recommend this film if you enjoy comic books movies, action, or comedy because it has all three and it gets **** FOUR OUT OF FIVE STARS **** FROM ME.

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  1. I'd like a flop like that.
    I didn't love it, but Birds of Prey was a lot of fun and exactly what I expected. And wanted.

    1. I agree! There's so much hate on twitter right now. My husband loved it. It was fun and not meant to be taken seriously.

  2. Great write up! I cant even blame the media here they are just trying to appeal to majority online - sexist, dumb males. The blame is on WB for the late and awful marketing. I think WW1984 and Dune are going to be the last releases from them I will ever support again, they just set back the road to equality in cinema in major way with how they let this movie down

    1. So true! I'm probably just going to see WW1984. I'm so sick of the garbage WB is doing to female characters. they should be ashamed, but unfortunately they have none.

  3. I agree - I love Batman, and don't mind Robert Pattinson, but like you said, how many times are we going to get his origin story, and they're not even going to be as good as Nolan's version.

    Birds of Prey was so much fun because it weaved so many characters together, but didn't lose them in the shuffle - though I thought Roman and Cassandra couldv'e been written stronger. It was funny, action-packed, and totally fit the style of Harley Quinn. With Margot Robbie really fighting for the R-rating, and female cast and crew, if there was a movie about her to be made, I think this is as good as it's gonna get. Nice review and post!


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