This may not come as much of a surprise to those of you who have been reading my reviews for a while now, but I am a big fan of comic book movies. I enjoy both Marvel and DC offerings even as most DC films get beat down in their reviews harder than Marvel does. Now even as a self professed comic book nerd, I did not have terribly high flying expectations heading into this one. That could have been from them changing the title after a weak opening weekend, the director being someone I have never heard of or the previews not doing their job to build the hype. But it did offer a couple strong A-List acting credits with Margot Robbie (Bombshell, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Focus) and Ewan McGregor (Doctor Sleep, Star Wars, Mulan Rouge). Even though Batman was not featured here, he has been easily one of my favorite comic book/film characters since I was young and anything set in the same universe I will definitely sign up to watch.
Ignoring the completely negative reviews there are a few things done well here. As I mentioned earlier, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and Ewan McGregor as Roman Sionis/Black Mask both delivered by standing out with their eccentric performances. It is interesting to me that they both can play “crazy” characters in very different ways. Margot’s version of Quinn is kind of silly and bubblegummy while McGregor’s Sionis is more deranged and very dark. Another strength were the visuals throughout the film. The production team made good use of bright colors in a lot of scenes which really helped keep the film from being muddled in the darker background tones. Obviously, being an action/adventure comic book film there are fight scenes/action sequences expected. There are quite a few to choose from but I really enjoyed one particular fight scene set inside a fun house. It was a nicely done scene that set itself apart using all those colors and it just had a fun vibe to it.
These “Birds” didn’t manage to make it through the whole movie without a few cracks in their eggshell. The writing is one of the more glaring cracks. There seems to be a lack of details in the story-line, there is little to no character development, and the dialogue is not going to win any awards. I can’t help but feel that a more experienced director could have avoided a few of those pitfalls. Birds of Prey is also dragged down by some lackluster acting on behalf of Rosie Perez (White Men Can’t Jump) as Renee Montoya, Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Gemini Man & 10 Cloverfield Lane) as The Huntress, and Chris Messina (The Sinner tv show) as Victor Zsasz. Messina was the biggest letdown since I thought he was excellent on The Sinner season 3 and Zsasz is a pretty interesting villain. It felt like they really muted his personality with the focus on the main ensemble of characters. Its a shame that they couldn’t give him more to work with since it may have elevated the entire movie.
As a whole, Birds of Prey was not quite the stinker that many reviews are labeling it as, but it certainly was not the best DC film to date either. It hits a few boxes for an entertaining movie but it has some pretty damning misses. Harley and company tried to soar but ended up flailing a mediocre 4 Apologies. I will say you could probably do worse trying to kill a couple hours though.