Fresh off the breakup from Mr. J, Harley Quinn meets a few other psychotic women who form a team to take out a bad guy while walking the line of good and evil themselves in this high-energy addition to the DCU titled Birds of Prey. This release comes with a Dolby Vision video presentation and Dolby Atmos audio track, both of which are good, along with some informative and good-natured bonus features. Recommended!
We Also Reviewed the 1080p Blu-ray
DC Comics and Warner Bros. have been putting their ears to the ground and listening to the calls for a less brooding and more energetic, fun-paced superhero universe for quite some time now. Audiences saw a good bit of that change in the wonderful Shazam! film and now DC Comics has turned that volume up to eleven with the ultra-violent, over-the-top anti-hero team-up Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). Even the title suggests that they’re trying too hard, which is the ultimate flaw with this otherwise fun if not exhausting movie.
The characters in Birds of Prey are some of the lesser-known characters in the DC Universe, besides Harley Quinn (Joker’s main squeeze). Fans that follow the comics or even animated DC shows would know about Black Canary and Huntress to name a couple, and this film gives them their limited time to shine, because this film is all about Harley (played to perfection by Margot Robbie), and leaves most of the other characters on the back-burner in hopes that a franchise will be born to explore more territory.
Written by Christina Hodson (Bumblebee) and directed by an almost first-time filmmaker Cathy Yan, Birds of Prey is a wild ride from start to finish with barely anytime to get a breath in. With the team-up of Hodson and Yan, along with Robbie, you can tell that this DC franchise is in very capable hands and that they’re striving for something completely different than what has been seen on the big screen since Man of Steel. The issue is that everything feels extremely forced and heavy-handed with humor and violence. Nothing felt organic with the movie. Instead, each element was just elevated to its highest peak that every sequence and character seemed to be injected with a large dose of steroids with no real message or plot, other than to give a glimpse into the brilliant yet chaotic psyche of Harley Quinn.
The film has a fun and unique way of telling its story with Harley narrating throughout, stopping the picture frame and giving you a flashback, and even breaking the fourth wall with looking and speaking into the camera. This was a welcome addition to the DC world and it worked well. The scene is set just as Harley announces in a spectacular way that she and the Joker have called it quits, which has put most of Gotham out to kill her. One of the many people she has wronged is Roman Sionis or The Black Mask (Ewan McGregor in a fabulous flamboyant villain role), who puts out the John Wick-style bounty on her head to every assassin for hire.
From here, Harley crosses paths with various women, all with a distinct ability, including a young girl who has a penchant for stealing named Cassandra Cain, and a police detective straight out of an 80’s cop show (Rosie Perez). Along with Black Canary and The Huntress, these deadly women kill the bad guys, which all culminates to them teaming up against The Black Mask over some large rare diamond.
If there is a message or a point to convey at any time during the film, it’s so subtle and small that it might as well not be there. But, if constant F-Bombs, brutal violence, and seeing Margot Robbie live her best life as Harley Quinn is the expectation with Birds of Prey, then satisfaction will be at an all-time high. Birds of Prey is shot extremely well, keeps the pace fast, and goes in a different direction than any DC film before it. Sadly, it all felt unnatural and artificial.
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
Birds of Prey flies its way to 4K UHD Disc + Blu-ray +Digtial Copy from Warner Bros. The discs are housed in a hard, black, plastic case with an insert for the digital code. The artwork of the main characters of the film is posted on the case as well as the cardboard sleeve.
Birds of Prey shoots its way to 4K with a 2160p transfer with Dolby Vision and looks exquisite and is a great upgrade from the already top-notch 1080p Blu-ray Disc in the form of color and detail.
The Birds of Prey color palette is the most vibrant and brightest color scheme out of all the DC Universe films. There was a hint of bolder moments in Suicide Squad and Shazam!, but Birds of Prey takes the cake right from the start with its flashy animation. From there, the scenery is filled with sunny exterior shots in addition to the some well lit darker sequences that are ripe with bright neon signs and smoke that light up the evening sky. The Dolby Vision enhances each color in every lighting condition here, that allows all of the nuanced shading to come through nicely. Harley's bright primary-colored costume and makeup always look rich as well. Another wonderful sequence is the police station shoot-out with glitter and colored smoke that is breathtaking against the grey and blue backdrop of the interior building. Black levels are deep and inky with no evidence of crush with all of the available neon lighting that provides excellent detail in objects and wardrobe to be seen.
The detail is also superb throughout as well, showcasing every brutal wound, scar, and makeup effect nicely. Harley's facial pores, lines, and individual hairs look remarkable. The outfits show the correct amount of shine and texture as well in both closeups and wider angles. The hyena looks incredible as well in its CGI wonder that looks realistic even in bright daytime scenes. Going back to the glitter shoot-out, every piece of literary explosions can be seen in the slow-motion sequence and never becomes pixelated, nor does any of the smoke. Skin tones are natural and there are no major issues with any banding, aliasing, or video noise. Birds of Prey in 4K Dolby Vision is a delight to watch.
Birds of Prey offers a wonderful Dolby Atmos track that comes alive when it needs to, which you can read about here on the Blu-ray version.
There are about 46 minutes of bonus material included, along with an alternate way to watch the film that cuts to behind the scenes information and interviews on how certain scenes were filmed and edited. However, there are no bonus features included on the 4K Disc. All bonus material is on the Blu-ray, which you can Read Here.
Birds of Prey is a fun and energetic step in the right direction, but the execution is too on the nose and it tries too hard to be clever, different, and fun which leads the entire production and stories astray. Still, there is enough to like about this world set inside the DCU, especially Harley Quinn, because there is more to her than meets the eye. The 4K video with Dolby Vision is excellent and a wonderful uptick in detail and color, while the Dolby Atmos sound very good. There are some great bonus features to add to the mix as well. Recommended!