Birds of Prey never stops moving, like a hungry shark searching for its next breakfast sandwich. It’s in perpetual motion for most of it’s runtime, and when you slap 4DX on top of that, it becomes increasingly hard to hold onto your nachos. And your beer will definitely be shook flat twenty minutes into the mayhem. But that’s what it’s all about when you sign up for that 4DX ticket.
This is carnival ride entertainment at its finest, exactly what 4DX was created for. There isn’t much of a story to be found in Birds of Prey, and that’s perfectly okay. In terms of 4DX, this is the best kind of movie to match with that all-immersive format. It’s another John Wick type of dash and bash where your seat will constantly beat, stab, shoot and kick you. There is one moment towards the end that literally almost threw half the audience on the floor of the theater. It was that brutal and intense. A summersault triple-flip of a moment that I’ve only seen matched by Idris Elba being thrown into a bus midway through Hobbs and Shaw.
You’ll definitely get your money’s worth. And if you’re not afraid of getting wet, leave that water button alone, because Margot Robbie has one tricked out fight scene in a jail cell that drops you in the middle of splash city, with more spray blasts to the face than I’ve yet witnessed inside a 4DX venue.
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Removed from the novelty of that hydraulic chair, Birds of Prey is still a fun night out at the movies. It’s the true definition of a popcorn movie. It’s colorful, fast, loud and has a banging soundtrack that includes Doja Cat. What more could you want out of a superhero thrillride? It doesn’t ask you to think too much. And finally, someone found the perfect way to adapt the popular family book Everybody Poops. Dare I say this is one of the better page-to-screen adaptations to come along in some time, as this, boiled down to its core essence, is the tale of one little girl who really needs to evacuate her bowels. Somehow, director Cathy Yan found a why to turn that idea into an action epic.
Harley Quinn is on the outs with what appears to be the entire city of Gotham after breaking up with Mr. J. Black Mask wants her obliterated. But she gets the chance to redeem herself within the criminal underbelly by retrieving a diamond swallowed by the young Cassandra Cain. As Harley attempts to track down the diamond, chaos ensues. And there are a lot of great action and fight scenes that are only enhanced by the ferociousness of the 4DX experience.
The early John Wick comparison makes sense, as the director of Keanu Reeves’ action masterpiece, Chad Stahelski, came on midway through the production to give this thing a little extra kick. He choreographed some of the head stompers that fly by at a rabid rate. And if you’re into the Jardani Jovonovich saga, you’ll definitely want to buy this ticket.
There has been a lot of online discourse around the themes in the movie. It is an all-girl superhero flick. Some believe it’s pushing a woke agenda. Maybe. But the difference here is that it’s done surprising well, and the entire hour and forty-nine minute runtime never deflates or is anything less than entertaining. Birds of Prey, which is now being called Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey as we head into its second weekend, definitely hates all of its male characters. Men are evil. All of them. Even the guy who runs the restaurant under Harley’s apartment. Whom she views as a father figure. The dude totally rats her out for money.
The cook who makes Harley’s coveted bodega breakfast sandwich is, perhaps, the only man in the whole movie who isn’t a complete asshole. But who am I to assume its gender? S/He could be an attack helicopter for all I know. Bruce, Harley’s male Hyena roommate, almost makes the cut as a decent swinging dick. But the animal is not allowed to have its big moment to shine at the end of the carnival set piece that brings this all home.
Birds of Prey does owe a lot to Joel Schumacher as some have pointed out. But not necessarily his Batman movies. Birds of Prey swings with the same kinetic energy as his classic vampire comedy The Lost Boys, and the ending here comes on with the same type of gravitas. And anyone who’s watched the exploits of Sam, Mike and the Frog Brothers over and over again will see this referenced in that climactic brawl at the the carnival. So, Bruce is supposed to jump in and save the day, pushing the bad guy to his death, right? I know I was expecting the hyena to pull a Nanook and kick Black Mask into the ocean. But Cathy Yan doesn’t want to give us that moment.
She does this quite a bit throughout the movie. Offering up teases and Easter eggs to male dominated pieces of pop culture. But not going the obvious route to give us the moments we expect. It feels like deep sea trolling when we see Harley on the hood of a car. There’s the hood ornament. And we expect her to pull an Indiana Jones. But nope. Just like Nanook, Yan giveth and taketh away, creating her own niche scenes. And that’s fine. New is good.
Yan also feels like she is trolling those old white dudes who sit through the credits for a post-credit stinger. She sort of gives us one here. But it comes as a giant tease and sort-of a ham slam. She’s definitely making fun of the tropes. And only whiney internet dudes who hate Rose Tico and Rian Johnson will probably get seriously upset about it. It’s nothing to wet your panties about. Yan has a great sense of timing and humor, and this stacks up as a unique installment in what used to be the DCEU (but is now just the expanded DC Universe I guess? As this won’t even connect with Suicide Squad or The Suicide Squad, and Joaquin Phoenix is definitely not the Joker Harley Quinn spends the early parts of the movie pinning away for).
The DC universe is all over the map at this point, and Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey comes on like a bright red slushy that’s been spilled across the theater floor. A true cult film in every sense of the word. Just know, if you spend that little bit extra to see it in 4DX, it’s definitely worth the ticket. And, so you know, if you take a Slurpee in with you, chances are half of it is definitely going to wind up on the floor. Happy travels. You can find your nearest 4DX theaters at regal.com. Birds of Prey will be playing later 4DX showings this weekend, with the early showings belonging to Sonic the Hedgehog.