Despite receiving mostly positive reviews, the new "Birds of Prey" (BOP) film isn't exactly setting the box office on fire. With an opening weekend that's the lowest of any DC movie in the past decade (that includes the flop that was "Green Lantern"), something is definitely wrong. It's not the cast, as Margot Robbie alone is a big enough name to bring in the ticket sale. It's not a lack of popularity when it comes to the character of Harley Quinn, who is one of the most popular DC characters ever, and as I mentioned earlier, it's not poor reviews either. Though there's never one single reason as to why a film may flop commercially, BOP's slow start to its box office run could simply boil down to poor SEO. Which is why many cinema chains, after a suggestion from Warner Bros, has now changed the film's title from "Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn" to simply "Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey", which I think should've been the title from the get go.
Mild spoilers incoming.
As much as the studio may have wanted this to be a story about Harley Quinn's female companions and not just about Harley Quinn herself, at the end of the day she is the focal point of the entire film. Harley herself narrates the events of the film in a way that perfectly portrays the kind of character she is, and though there are other characters in the film who play prominent roles, everything simply revolves around Harley, which isn't a bad thing. Her character was excellently written in this film. A can-do attitude no matter how much the odds are stacked against her, a sense of humour that perfectly balances out her serious side, and there's even some room for actual character development, as she forms a bond with a young pickpocket and learns what it means to feel responsible for someone other than herself. She's also stepping out of the Joker's shadow, which is a key point to her development throughout the film as many of her enemies point out that without the Joker, Harley Quinn is nothing, which drives her to prove them wrong.
Margot Robbie did a brilliant job with the character, as she did in the original "Suicide Squad" film, with many people saying she was born to play Harley Quinn. Ewan McGregor plays the film's villain, Roman Sionis, a.k.a., Black Mask. A big DC Comics villain who hasn't really been seen outside of comic books (the character did however appear in the "Arkham Origins" video game in 2013). McGregor did a remarkable job with the character, and while most live action super-villains are really forgettable, I'm certain that his portrayal of Black Mask will be fondly remembered. I won't go into detail for every character, but in a nutshell the main cast was very well put together, with each of the main characters having their own motivation and purpose in the film which ultimately brought them all together. I especially liked Mary Elizabeth Winstead's Huntress, a badass with a crossbow who suffers from some social awkwardness.
There was ample action in the film, with Harley Quinn again at the centre of most of it. She took on an entire police station with a grenade launcher that fired colourful confetti grenades and proceeded to then escape from the grasp of a group of bigger and larger hitmen with the aid of a baseball bat (a favourite of the character). Her combat was incredibly acrobatic and violent, a combination the character is well known for. The best action sequence of course came at the end, as Harley and her girl gang took on an army of hired guns in an amusement park fun house. That sequence was extremely fun to watch, and it ended with Harley chasing down Black Mask on roller skates. Yup, roller skates. Only Harley Quinn could pull that off.
I'm not sure how much the name change will affect ticket sales, but I hope it helps. BOP is definitely a good comic book movie. Lots of action, some well placed humour, a great villain, a strong cast, and a remarkable Harley Quinn. I won't say it's going to be the best comic book movie of the year, not with the likes of "Wonder Woman 1984" and "Black Widow" coming soon, but I can't really point out much wrong with the film. Warner Bros may have failed to deliver a DCEU that can rival the MCU, but if there's one thing the studio did right, it was to cast Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn.