The women-centric comic book adventure adapted to a lively, colorful romp of a film, now out on home video
The second-to-last film I saw in a theater was Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn. It was early March and things were looking dire, so I decided a second screening of the Warner Brother/DC film was in order. Revisiting the new Blu-Ray package amidst stay-home recommendations, the woman-centric comic book adventure is just as frantic and fun.
Margot Robbie stars in and produced Birds of Prey, a semi-sequel to Suicide Squad (although as one who hasn’t seen the earlier film, I don’t feel like I missed anything). We learn in an animated intro about Harley Quinn’s (Robbie) beginnings and see her reaction to the end of her toxic relationship with the Joker. As a sort of status update, she drunkenly decides to blow up a chemical plant that once had special meaning to the couple.
Quinn’s voice narrates the film, although her storytelling choices make her a somewhat unreliable narrator. The timelines of the tale interweave as she introduces us to the other women who will eventually meet up: detective Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), nightclub singer Dinah/Black Canary(Jurnee Smollett-Bell), Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), and young pickpocket Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco).
Through it all, the women take on patriarchal systems and misogynistic characters — Ewan McGregor’s cold, vicious club owner Roman, in particular. Director Cathy Yan and her crew show us the colorful backstreets of Gotham City, as Quinn races on foot through a street market or impatiently awaits her dream breakfast sandwich in a bodega. Dark and dim moments are rare in Birds of Prey; glitter bombs are used in a police station sequence, and a jailhouse fight sequence turns into something out of Singin’ in the Rain.
The fight choreography in this film is what first won my heart. When the humor in the movement is such that it brings to mind Jackie Chan and Gene Kelly, you have created something magical. There’s a vibrant chaos to Birds of Prey, and it is something to revel in.
Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn is currently available on VOD, 4K UHD Combo pack and Blu-Ray Combo Pack. The Blu-Ray Combo Pack has loads of special features, including:
- Bird’s Eye View Mode: a version of the film that includes pop-up trivia, video commentary from the filmmaker, screenwriter and other crew members, as well as behind-the-scenes footage
- Birds of Prey: Birds of a Feather looks into the beginnings of the film. The actresses speak about their characters and training for their roles; we learn how director Yan and screenwriter Christina Hodson came to be involved with the project.
- Grime and Crime delves into the production design by K.K. Barrett. He discusses the influences behind his looks for Roman’s club and loft, the amusement park Booby Trap, and Harley Quinn’s apartment.
- Sanity Is So Last Season: costume designer Erin Benach talks about her costume choices for the characters, with a special appearance by Harley Quinn’s amazing caution tape jacket!
- Romanesque: Ewan McGregor and others involved with the film speak about his character and his take on the role of the villain.
- A Love/Skate Relationship: a behind-the-scenes look at the stunts and training involved with all the roller skating sequences.
- and more!