Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) is a mouthful of a title, but the newest movie from Warner Bros. Pictures' DC Films kicks off a historic year for comic book films. It is the first of five blockbusters arriving in 2020 that feature women protagonists, directed by women, and in this case, written by one too. Technically a sequel to 2016's Suicide Squad, the new film shines in all the places its predecessor flopped. These Birds Of Prey ratings prove Harley Quinn was always a winning character. She just had to be unshackled from men.
The DC universe on film started rough, with Man of Steel dividing the fandom in 2013 when Superman murdered Zod and earning a 56% splat on Rotten Tomatoes. From there, it didn't get better. The follow-up, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, was laughed at by critics with a 28% splat, Suicide Squad landed even worse with a 27% splat, and Justice League wound up with a failing 40%.
But with Wonder Woman (93% fresh), the franchise began to turn things around. Aquaman only landed 66%, barely fresh, but it still broke box office records. Shazam was lauded at 90% fresh, Meanwhile, Joker came in with 68%, but 11 Oscar nominations. Now Birds of Prey joins the winner's circle with 91% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes with 95 reviews logged.
Alonso Duralde at The Wrap calls the film a "giddy treat."
A giddy treat of an R-rated comic-book movie, borrowing elements from inspirations as disparate as 9 to 5, Bugs Bunny and Modesty Blaise to create an adventure that tweaks its genre familiarity with delightful bursts of anarchy and wit.
Leah Greenblatt of Entertainment Weekly loves the message of sisterhood among bad girls:
In a world gone mad, the catharsis of Prey's twisted sisterhood doesn't just read as pandemonium for its own sake; it's actually pretty damn sweet.
And Brandon Katz of The Observer admits he likes this better than most standard superhero films.
At no point is the film ever uninteresting and its ambitiously gonzo fluidity is much preferred to the mindless Macguffin-based quests at the center of many superhero flicks from both studios.
As for how the film is expected to do at the box office, prognosticators think this could be the first big box office weekend for 2020. According to Variety:
Birds of Prey is on pace to earn $50 million to $55 million when it touches down in 4,200 theaters. Warner Bros. is hedging expectations, projecting an opening closer to $45 million, since an antihero ensemble filled with mostly unknown characters makes it something of a gamble. But even those figures would be a solid start. The film cost $80 million to make, a fraction of what studios typically spend on superhero movies.
Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) opens Friday, Feb. 7, 2020.