icons-02 icons-01 MM Logo Instagram

blog

Movie news, reviews, features and more thoughts coming soon...

By midlandsmovies, Feb 14 2020 08:42AM

Birds of Prey (2020) Dir. Cathy Yan


DC’s eighth instalment in their ever expanding ‘Extended Universe’ is released this week. Birds of Prey, or to give it it’s full mouthful of a title, Birds of Prey (and the fantabulous emancipation of one Harley Quinn), is helmed by director Cathy Yan and stars Margot Robbie in her second outing as the titular character.


After Harley’s split from the Joker leaves her vulnerable to the wrath of all of Gotham’s criminal underworld, she crosses paths with 3 other “dames looking for emancipation” in order to take down the most nefarious villain of them all, Roman Sionis (Ewan Mcgregor). Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) and cliché cop Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) team up alongside Harley when pre-teen Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco) has a contract placed on her head after pick pocketing Sionis’ prized diamond.


We are told the story in an almost Tarantino-esque non-linear fashion. The chronology of the story imitates Harley’s hyperactive mind, with her unreliable narration taking us back in time to understand the events unfolding on screen. From the get go this film just oozes fun. The colourful sets and costumes really create an atmosphere you want to be a part of, unlike the dingy, suppressed nature of Harley Quinn’s first introduction to us in Suicide Squad.


In terms of performances Margot Robbie and Ewan Mcgregor are the obvious standouts. Robbie embodies the role as if she was born to play it. Again, in comparison with Suicide Squad she has a lot more opportunity within this film to bring a more emotional depth to the character allowing the audience to gain a larger understanding of her as a person. Therefore, cementing herself as one of the most beloved anti-heroes in this generation of superhero franchises.


Ewan Mcgregor seems a world away from the last time audiences saw him in last years Doctor Sleep. Both performances brilliant but in polar opposite ways. In Doctor Sleep Mcgregor a much more serious, reserved and endearing character. Whereas in this film he grabs the over the top villain role with both hands. Sionis teeters on the edge of madness, going from 0 to 100, flamboyant to terrifying in mere seconds.


An honourable mention is deserved for Chris Messina as Victor Zsasz, Sionis’ right hand man. A character in love with violence, constantly provoking his superior to allow him to feed his desperation for it. His mannerisms and even the way he looks at other people sends chills down your spine.


Unfortunately, in terms of acting, for me, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Ella Jay Basco were the clear weak links. I was surprised by Winstead, I do enjoy her performances in Scott Pilgrim Versus the World and 10 Cloverfield Lane, they prove she can hold her own alongside highly respected actors. Whether it was the script or just how she played it, her appearance as Huntress felt misjudged. The character’s dialogue always seemed forced. Continuous reference is made to the fact her character has not become akin to the tough guy persona just yet which led to quite a bit of overacting and cringe inducing lines.


Similarly with Ella Jay Basco, despite her fantastic physical acting in scenes of her pickpocketing unsuspecting people on the street, her delivery of lines just didn’t feel up to the mark. I understand that she is a young child actor but her performance lacked the spark or magic that others possessed.


Getting back to the positives of the film, the influence of John Wick director Chad Stahelski on some of the action scenes in the film was clear. An excellent choice by Birds of Prey producers to gain the help of the director of this era’s staple action franchise. Wide shots, perfect use of slow motion and practical stunts immerse the audience in each and every action sequence. Each significant character’s unique fighting style is showcased in spectacular fashion. Whether it Harley Quinn’s acrobatic flair or Huntress’ sharpshooter technique, these scenes were the most fun I had whilst watching this film.


DC seem to have finally found their rhythm in their longstanding fight against Marvel and with Joaquin Phoenix’s Oscar win for his performance in Joker and the quality of this film, they may even be one step ahead right now.


★★★★


Jake Evans


Twitter @Jake_Evans1609

By midlandsmovies, Aug 14 2016 11:59AM

Suicide Squad (2016) Dir. David Ayer


A group of imprisoned super villains are recruited by a secret government agency to complete a black ops mission in exchange for reduced sentences, leading to inevitable chaos.


When a mysterious supernatural entity threatens the world, a secret government agency led by high-ranking official Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) recruits a selection of the most dangerous villains for combat. If anything goes wrong, the government will not be liable, and the criminals will be destroyed. Each member of the aptly named 'Suicide Squad' has a bomb implanted into their neck before the mission which will be detonated if they fail or do anything that goes against protocol. It will be up to them to rise above the apparently impossible events that will take place before them, in what many would to be a suicide mission.


The highly anticipated Suicide Squad - tipped to be the hottest film of summer 2016 - has taken a lot of flack since its release. After seeing it, I can't say that I agree with the panning it has received. Prior to the trip to the cinema, after eating many mixed reviews, I wasn't too optimistic about the film, but it was quite a bit better than I had thought it was going to be.that being said, however, it was not perfect...


I couldn't really fault the performances. Will Smith had some very quick-witted one-liners as Deadshot (people have argued about whether this should have been the case, but I thought they were necessary to keep the film moving along).Margot Robbie was insanely good as Harley Quinn and was equally as entertaining. I feel like the other members of the Suicide Squad were purely to fill it out, but they generally did this quite well. Jai Courtney provided some good laughs as Boomerang, while Jay Hernandes balanced this out as Diablo, who had found himself some sort of a conscience whilst incarcerated. Cara Delevigne was the only one who I didn't think met the same standards as the others, but her character, Enchantress/June Moone, wasn't on-screen all that long so I can live with that.


Jared Leto's turn as The Joker was pretty short lived, and this is probably what disappointed me the most. I feel like Suicide Squad was quite heavily sold on his name, and for him to only feature for roughly twenty minutes was a slight let-down.


I would say I will now discuss the storyline, but there wasn't really that much of a storyline to pass comment on. What bit of narrative that did exist was quite rushed. It would have been far better, I think at least, if the villains had been introduced to us in their won respective films before this one so that we weren't all going into Suicide Squad cold. The thing to keep the film afloat was the action. The film survived on gunshots and explosions, and if it hadn't have been for this, the three of us who went to see this film may very well have fallen asleep in the cinema.


All I can really say about Suicide Squad is that it is a fun comic-book adaptation that is what it is. It's a film that is guaranteed to make money no matter what, so can afford to be flawed as people will still queue to see it. It was never meant to be taken too seriously! They might be the worst heroes ever, but it's certainly not the worst film ever. However, nor is it the best.


7/10


Kira Comerford

RSS Feed twitter