Eppler: Don't sleep on 'Birds of Prey'

"Birds of Prey" is a violent glitter bomb explosion of pure punk rock that is unapologetically weird and in-your-face. I'm kind of in love. Actually, to be honest, I was already in the tank for Margot Robbie - a captivating and charismatic actress - and now we're getting a chance to see the kind of movie she wants to make as she serves as an executive producer here and takes center stage.

Robbie's Harley Quinn was the only reason to see "Suicide Squad," so it makes sense to have her own movie. Thankfully, she's rid of Jared Leto's Hot Topic Joker - which you'll recall was an abusive relationship. The messy break-up and her recovery is the fuse that lights the movie's story.

While Harley is the focus of "Birds of Prey," we also meet some new characters for her to team up with: Jurnee Smollett-Bell's Black Canary, Mary Elizabeth Winstead's Huntress and Rosie Perez as police officer Renee Montoya.They're all working against a crime boss played by Ewan McGregor, clearly enjoying himself and chewing scenery like a bowl of popcorn.

The movie has fantastic energy fueled by newcomer director Cathy Yan, and the female perspective matters: the action sequences have roller derby influence, and only a female director would consider how long hair could be a problem in a climactic battle. It's a blast to watch, but it has some serious things on its mind, too, like trauma recovery and female friendships.

With "Wonder Woman 84" on the way later this year, DC movies are finally giving Marvel a real challenge for quality.

EPPLER'S RATING: * * * 1/2


* * * * * Incredible - One of the best of the year* * * * Excellent - Touches greatness with only minor quibbles* * * Good - Plenty to like, definitely worth seeing* * Mediocre - You can do better

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