Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn Blu-ray Review

You ever hear the one about the cop, the songbird, the psycho and the mafia princess? “Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)” is a twisted tale told by Harley herself, as only Harley can tell it. Ralph Potts reviews the Blu-ray release from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

93

Details:

Studio and Year: Warner – 2019
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 109 minutes
Genre: Comedy/Thriller/Action

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC
Video Aspect: 2.39:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1, English/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Margot Robbie, Ewan McGregor, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smolette-Bell, Rosie Perez, Chris Messina
Directed by: Cathy Yan
Music by: Daniel Pemberton
Written by: Christina Hodson
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: May 12, 2020

“Mayhem at its Finest!”

Synopsis:

“When Gotham’s most nefariously narcissistic villain, Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor), and his zealous right-hand, Zsasz (Chris Messina), put a target on a young girl named Cass (Ella Jay Basco), the city is turned upside down looking for her. Harley (Margot Robbie), Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) and Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez)’s paths collide, and the unlikely foursome have no choice but to team up to take Roman down.” – Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

My Take:

It’s open season on Harley Quinn when her explosive breakup with the Joker puts a big fat target on her back. Unprotected and on the run, Quinn faces the wrath of narcissistic crime boss Roman Sionis aka Black Mask, his right-hand man, Victor Zsasz, and every other thug in the city looking to even the score. But things soon even out for Harley when she becomes unexpected allies with three deadly women — Huntress, Black Canary and Renee Montoya, in an effort to protect a young thief and prevent Roman from obtaining a gem that could make him the city’s richest crime lord.

I am far from being well versed in the characters of the DC Universe. My first taste of Harley Quinn was in DC’s 2016 film Suicide Squad. I did enjoy the role the character played in the film and Margot Robbie’s take. As such, I thought that Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn looked like it might be fun.

I liked the film’s frenetic narrative which places focus on Harley Quinn’s penchant for unscrupulous behavior and narcissistic ramblings. The plot is pretty thin in general but, then again, it serves the rule breaking tone of the story fairly well. There is a guilty pleasure theme that underscores the banality but, I found that to be part of the charm of Birds of Prey. The action is more or less over the top which, worked and, the production elements are spot on.

Margot Robbie owns the character which is a good thing, seeing as she has the lions share of the screen time. The supporting character base was a mixed bag. Ewan McGregor is a great character actor and made the most of what he had to work with here which wasn’t much. I am a big Mary Elizabeth Winstead fan. The Huntress just didn’t get enough screen time to be a factor despite her being the film’s most interesting character behind Harley Quinn. The weakest and most annoying of the lot is the subplot/character of Renee Montoya played by the equally annoying Rosie Perez.

Anyway, despite a few quibbles, I had a good time with Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn and look forward to giving it another spin.

Replay Value:

Parental Guide:

The rating is for strong violence and language throughout, and some sexual and drug material.

AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

Video: 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Resolution/Clarity: 
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail: 
  • Color Reproduction: 
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression: 

 

Audio: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Dynamics: 
  • Low frequency effects: 
  • Surround Sound presentation: 
  • Clarity/Detail: 
  • Dialog Reproduction: 
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA

 

Dolby Atmos Rating: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Level of immersion: 
  • Soundstage integration: 
  • Audio object placement: 
  • Effectiveness of Atmos platform: 
  • Entertainment factor: 

 

Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

This film has an intentionally dark and reserved chromatic visual style that doesn’t lend itself to vibrant colors and overtly glossy video quality. There are instances where brighter colors/elements are utilized and the boldly applied contrast allows them to pop visually. Otherwise onscreen images lean toward imagery that provides the thematic look intended to drive the story’s components. This is done to good effect. Shadow delineation is excellent overall and revealing of visible details within dark backgrounds and low lighting. Stable contrast and deep blacks allow scenes containing mixed content to appear gradationally satisfying with crisp whites and dynamic highlights. Resolution is discerning as images are characterized by intricate and definitively rendered detail that gives the video appreciable dimension and delineated texture. This is a solid high definition presentation that looked great on my large screen.

Birds of Prey has a solid 7.1 channel surround track, so I wondered how much the immersive experience would improve upon it. In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be of the active variety that made effective use of the platform. Its use of audio objects is a mix atmospherics, discrete effects and ambient music bleed. This creates an appreciable level of immersion that coincides with the onscreen events.

Beginning with the film’s opening followed by the destruction of Ace’s chemical plant, there are instances where the mix generates a noticeable improvement in dimension and depth of field as the track conveys the breadth/expanse of interiors/exterior venues, flying debris and nearfield sounds. Things ramp up when the action kicks as the soundstage bristles with enveloping ambience and discretely placed effects. The encounter at the police station and the standoff in the finale are good examples. While these sequences sound very good in 7.1, they are taken to the next level in the Amos mix.

The lossless 7.1 soundtrack has solid dynamic range, detail rich clarity, and makes ample use of the entire surround platform to drive the film’s elements. The detection of subtle background sounds, off camera cues and spatial dimension within the room’s acoustic environment is notable. The low frequency effects channel is active as the subwoofer works in tandem with the rest of the system to convey the palpably rich and, room shuddering bass associated with the action-based sequences. Dialog is firmly planted in the center channel and renders voices and effects with appropriate distinction. I enjoyed this audio presentation and thought that it mated perfectly with the source material.

Bonus Features:

  • • Birds Eye View Mode
    • Birds of Prey: Birds of a Feather
    • Grime and Crime
    • Wild Nerds
    • Romanesque
    • Sanity is Sooo Last Season
    • A Love/Skate Relationship
    • Gag Reel
  • DVD
  • Digital

Final Thoughts:

Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn isn’t the best film to come out of the DC Film Universe but, it’s not the worst and, features an eclectic blend of action, humor and thrills that kept me entertained. It comes to Blu-ray from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment featuring excellent high definition audio/video, including a solid Dolby Atmos surround mix and a solid supplemental package. Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn is pure popcorn entertainment and is especially recommended for fans of the character as played by Margot Robbie. If you’re curious toss it in your rental queue and take it for a spin on Blu-ray.

 

Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman color calibration software and Portrait Displays C6 HDR2000 colorimeter from Portrait.com)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Oppo BDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/Roomie Remote V6 Universal Remote Control
SVS Ultra Tower Speakers (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Center Channel (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Niles Audio In-Ceiling/In-Wall Series Speakers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems