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WARNER

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Cathy Yan
Cast:
Margot Robbie, Rosie Perez, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Writing Credits:
Christina Hodson

Synopsis:
After splitting with the Joker, Harley Quinn joins superheroes Black Canary, Huntress and Renee Montoya to save a young girl from an evil crime lord.

Box Office:
Budget
$84.5 million.
Opening Weekend
$33,010,017 on 4236 Screens.
Domestic Gross
$84,158,461.

MPAA:
Rated R.

DISC DETAILS

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Audio:
English Dolby Atmos
English Dolby 5.1
English Descriptive Audio
Spanish Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
Portuguese Dolby 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Portuguese
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Portuguese
French

Runtime: 109 min.
Price: $35.99
Release Date: 5/12/2020

Bonus:
• “Bird’s Eye View Mode”
• “Birds of a Feather” Featurette
• “Romaneqsue” Featurette
• “A Love, Skate Relationship” Featurette
• “Grime and Crime” Featurette
• “Sanity Is Sooo Last Season” Featurette
• “Wild Nerds” Featurette
• Gag Reel
• Previews
• DVD Copy


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


RELATED REVIEWS


Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn [Blu-Ray] (2020)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 21, 2020)

Although 2016’s Suicide Squad received a decidedly lackluster reception from critics, Margot Robbie earned a fair amount of praise for her brash, wild performance as Harley Quinn, the Joker’s psychotic girlfriend. While we wait for a Squad sequel to arrive in 2021, the character gets her own starring vehicle via 2020’s Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn.

After the Joker dumps her, Harley Quinn (Robbie) loses the inherent protection that their relationship provided. Because all of Gotham City’s lowlifes fear Joker, they let Harley do whatever she wants, so when the public learns of the split, she needs to fend for herself.

Due to her behavior over the years, Harley finds herself as the apple of many a malevolent eye, all of whom want to take their revenge on her. In particular, crime boss Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor) feels eager to finally eliminate the rowdy Ms. Quinn.

Faced with her imminent demise, Harley wheedles her way out of death when she tells Roman she can locate a valuable diamond absconded by youthful pickpocket Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco). As Harley attempts to stay alive, she eventually bands with unlikely allies to fight the baddies.

The presence of Harley’s colleagues means my synopsis simplifies the plot greatly. At its core, Prey comes with a simple story, one that revolves around the MacGuffin created by the diamond, but as told, we get a more complicated narrative.

That happens because Prey needs to introduce us to virtually every character other than Harley. In addition to Roman and Cassandra, we need “origin stories” for the three “Birds”: former cop Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), vengeful vigilante Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and super-powered lounge singer Dinah “Black Canary” Lance (Jurnee Smollett-Bell). Throw in a few secondary roles and these expository bits could take up a huge chunk of the movie’s 109-minute running time.

Director Cathy Yan gives us the necessary basics about these characters and not much more, which seems fine with me. For better or for worse, this exists as Harley’s movie, so I think we learn enough about the other parts to flesh them out in a satisfactory manner.

I suspect the producers hoped to dig deeper into these roles via a Prey sequel, but based on this flick’s reception, that seems unlikely. Despite a ton of promotion and the lead character’s popularity, the film struggled to find an audience and ended up with a disappointing $200 million worldwide, a total that meant it likely didn’t break even.

Some blame this on the supposed “feminist themes” found in Prey. Like 2019’s flop Charlie’s Angels reboot, a variety of commentators – most likely men – complained about the lack of sex appeal in Prey.

The Harley seen in Suicide Squad acted as a fanboy fantasy, whereas the Prey version seems much less alluring. Add to that the “sisters are doing it for themselves” theme at the core of the movie and the proverbial “dudes who live in their mother’s basement” crowd avoided it.

I don’t endorse this negative concept. I think it’s horribly shortsighted for anyone to avoid Prey because it highlights strong, independent female characters.

I find the notion that a movie with a gender lean like this can’t succeed in the world of comic book/action flicks abhorrent. It leaves us with the notion that females need to be sexy and/or secondary to males if the film can make money.

As much as I dislike the concept, though, the people who most complained about the alleged feminist themes of Prey are the main crowd for movies like this. Sure, flicks like 2017’s Wonder Woman showed that female audiences will come out for comic book movies, but that doesn’t make this the rule.

This seems especially true given the more limited potential audience for Prey. Wonder Woman came with a much more family-friendly vibe, while Prey brings a hyper-violent, very “R”-rated affair – again, one that seems most appealing to a certain segment of the male audience. Lost that demographic and a tale like this will struggle to sell tickets.

While I feel this issue accounts for at least some of Prey’s box office woes, apparently the suits at Warner tried to find another scapegoat: the title. After only a few days in theaters, the movie’s name changed to the more efficient Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey.

Which probably should’ve been the title all along – or even just Birds of Prey, though the emphasis on Harley makes sense since she becomes the flick’s primary selling point. As I noted, fans loved Harley in Suicide Squad, so attempts to highlight her seem logical.

I kind of like the original title, and I’ll continue to view it as the title, despite scrambled alterations. It’s quirky and more interesting than the bland update WB imposed. (Note that this Blu-ray restores the original title.)

That said, I recognize it’s a pretty awkward name for a potential blockbuster. It’s the kind of moniker you’d expect more from some art house flick like Birdman (Or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) than a big comic book affair.

Whatever caused Prey to end up with a mediocre box office fate, the film deserved better. Though a little too muddled to become a great action experience, the movie does much more right than wrong.

In the negative vein, the barely coherent plot becomes a liability. While I stand by my belief that we learn enough about the various roles to satisfy, I also think a longer, more leisurely examination of the characters and themes would work better.

I get why Prey rushes through these areas, as the alternative means a movie that’d need to run two and a half hours. Once the filmmakers decide to flesh out one character, they need to expand the rest, and that leaves us with a much longer flick.

Because Prey lives and dies with its violent energy, the decision to skimp on character and story areas makes sense. Yeah, I think the end result feels messy and disjointed, but it beats a version that drags on too long.

Essentially an orgy of stylized violence, Prey does well when it engages in its action scenes. Because it consists of a ton of these, that means we find a movie with a lot of excitement from start to finish.

Yan can go a little crazy with slow-motion, but she still stages the action in a vivid way. Like most movies of this sort, the characters take things to an absurd level, but that’s part of the fun, and Yan makes matters vivid and lively.

Robbie continues to excel as Harley. We get a less flirty and sassy version here than the one in Suicide Squad, but Robbie still manages to bring a good mix of psychosis and oddball charm to the part.

As for the rest, McGregor offers the most enjoyable turn. He chews scenery with abandon as our flamboyant main villain, and he makes Roman a hoot. Heck, I didn’t even mind his terrible American accent, as it all feels like part of the gag.

Although I don’t think Prey consistently fires on all cylinders, it works as a crazed action movie. It becomes one of the better DC live-action flicks.

Footnote: if you stick around through the end credits, a small treat awaits you.


The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio A-/ Bonus B-

Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn appears in an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a largely satisfying image.

Overall sharpness worked well, with only a smattering of slightly soft dimly-lit shots on display. Most of the movie boasted positive accuracy and delineation.

The image lacked jagged edges or moiré effects, and edge haloes remained absent. Print flaws also remained absent.

Unsurprisingly, the film’s palette favored a notable orange and teal hint, though a mix of purples and reds and other tones emerged as well. The disc replicated the colors as intended.

Blacks seemed dark and dense, but shadows could seem a little murky, as low-light shots weren’t quite as smooth as I’d like. Still, I felt happy with the transfer in general and thought it offered a good representation of the film.

Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the movie’s Dolby Atmos audio added great dimensionality to the effort. With many action scenes, the mix used the various channels to create a lively, vivid soundscape.

This meant various vehicles zipped around the room in a smooth, convincing manner, while other aspects of fights and mayhem brought out well-placed material that blended together in a nicely integrated way. The soundfield meshed together to deliver a well-rounded impression.

Audio quality also impressed, with speech that seemed natural and concise. Music appeared vivid and full, with dynamic tones.

Effects fared best of all, as those elements seemed accurate and tight, with crisp highs and deep lows. As I expect from a movie of this sort, the soundtrack excelled.

An interactive feature, Bird’s Eye Mode offers a few components. In addition to a text trivia track, it brings behind the scenes footage, links to comics, and comments from director Cathy Yan, screenwriter Christina Hodson, stunt coordinator Jonathan Eusebio, costume designer Erin Benach, key grip Tana Dubbe, production designer KK Barrett, visual effects producer Annemarie Griggs, stunt double Renae Moneymaker, costume/wardrobe assistant Shaylyn O’Grady, visual effects supervisor Greg Steele, and actors Margot Robbie, Ewan McGregor, Rosie Perez, Chris Messina, David Bernhardt, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, and Ella Jay Basco.

“Eye” looks at story/characters, camerawork, cast and performances, stunts and action, costumes, production design and various effects. Aspects of “Eye” work fine, but as often occurs with interactive programs like this, it lacks consistency.

In particular, we get too much dead space, as “Eye” can go MIA for slightly extended periods. Since the format makes it difficult to enjoy the film with “Eye” activated, this can make it mildly frustrating. “Eye” gives us a reasonable array of insights, but it doesn’t excel.

A few featurettes follow, and Birds of a Feather runs eight minutes, 26 seconds and includes notes from Yan, Robbie, Hodson, Smolett-Bell, Winstead, Eusebio, Perez, and producers Sue Kroll and Bryan Unkeless.

“Feather” looks at the film’s development, Yan’s impact, stunts and action. It offers a few good notes but tends toward fluff.

Romaneqsue goes for four minutes, 57 seconds and brings notes from McGregor, Hodson, Kroll, Robbie, Yan and Winstead.

Here we get thoughts about the Roman character as well as McGregor’s performance. This becomes a mix of facts and praise.

Next comes A Love, Skate Relationship, a four-minute, 29-second reel with Robbie, Moneymaker, skating technical advisor Rachel Rotten, and skating stunt double Michelle Steilen. We learn about the movie’s roller derby scenes in this moderately useful piece.

Grime and Crime lasts 10 minutes, 38 seconds and features Robbie, Kroll, Yan, Unkeless, Barrett, Smollett-Bell, Perez, Winstead, Hodson, supervising art director Kasra Farahani and set designer Luis Hoyos.

“Grime” covers the movie’s depiction of Gotham, with an emphasis on production design. It turns into a fairly informative program, one with a higher than average level of insight.

With Sanity Is Sooo Last Season, we find a seven-minute, 39-second reel with material from Benach, Yan, Robbie, Winstead, Smolett-Bell, Perez, Basco, and McGregor.

This turns into a look at costumes. It covers the material in an effective manner.

Finally, Wild Nerds spans six minutes, three seconds and offers info from Griggs, Steele, Robbie, and Smollett-Bell. We find a quick and useful exploration of some visual effects.

A Gag Reel takes up two minutes, two seconds. It offers the usual silliness.

The disc opens with ads for Tenet, Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge. No trailer for Birds appears here.

A second disc presents a DVD copy of Prey. It includes the “Birds of a Feather” featurette but lacks all the other extras.

A disappointment at the box office, Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn deserved a sunnier fate. Aided by another good performance from Margot Robbie and oodles of brutal action, this becomes a vivid, fun action flick. The Blu-ray comes with appealing picture and audio as well as a reasonable roster of supplements. Prey deserved a bigger audience than it received.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 4
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main