IR Film Review: BIRDS OF PREY (& The Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn) [Warner Brothers]

The trajectory of “Birds Of Prey (& The Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn”) is visualizing the identity of Harley Quinn and her journey to become that whom she truly is. The movie tries in earnest to portray this road of discovery in Quinn’s own special way which is undeniably entertaining and edgy in its own bizarro progression. The iteration at least for the for the first 2/3rds of the film is day glow brilliance and breakneck. While creative flourishes and structure is dynamic and interesting, sometimes the style of the film intrinsically does not keep up with the pace. Robbie knows her character in and out and doesn’t shy away from the character’s faults. Quinn still loves Mr. J but he unceremoniously throws her away for undisclosed reasons. She starts acting out logically (and at times illogically) which is where most of the fun comes from. Quinn (and Robbie) knows she is a clinically trained psychiatrist who has gone bonkers and boy crazy for Mr. J so it is an interesting paradox. While her journey to find her crew is important, it is not the goal. There is peeks of tenderness and at times hurt underneath Quinn’s brilliant smile. Robbie shows peeks of it but there is not so much dramatic tendency as there could be.

When the plot takes over about 3/4s of the way through, the film veers into more standard territory where it might have been interesting to see it in a nihilistic way or a trip that only happens in Quin’s head. It is a fun ride, more dynamic and entertaining than “Suicide Squad” but still is not fully exceptional. The only issues is that at times it feels, in a weird way, like a TV movie and not a film, which is not an insult since alot of TV is cinematic but it is missing a certain kernel that would make it jump more. The other Birds Of Prey per se are very apt with Mary Elizabeth Winstead making the most impact as Huntress. Her O-Ren stylings are great but Winstead plays her less cool and more odd in a way which is a creative choice but one which could have been amped. The reality is that none of the other Birds per se can shine a candle to Harley. There is a Moulin Rouge/Madonna ode of sorts at one point which is cool considering Ewan in the scene is a direct reference to that seminal movie of 20 years ago. Ewan has a bit of fun playing the flamboyancy of his baddie character who ultimately is the Black Mask. But despite the flourishes the character is inherently one dimensional with the weight of the villain having as much structure as Sam Rockwell’s captain in “Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy”…fun to watch without much motivation beyond simple carnage. Even Tyler Durden had an ethos.

Ultimately “Birds Of Prey” wraps around to the true nature of Harley Quinn which a loner with a soft spot who likes to get in trouble. At one point, she steals a gas filled truck drunk and runs it into Axis Chemicals. It is a multi tiered point both freeing, tragic, nihilistic and wonderfully lurid which is all the aspects that Harley Quinn should be. Even though it runs at throttle those at this and other points, the film reaches its zenith only rarely but not as a full fledged blow out.

B-

By Tim Wassber

IR TV Review: TITANS Ep 201 “Trigon” [WBTV-S2]

The intention of “Titans” as with many superhero mash-ups is the structure of family and trust. The themes of betrayal seem to weigh heavily from Season 1. But again the structure of the Titans themselves is based on the aspect of evolution in terms of how the characters see themselves and what they might become. Dick Grayson as the first Robin and the paradox of Nightwing understands this but he has trouble coming to terms with it. Raven, as she will be called, is based in the function that her destiny is pre-set by her father Trigon. Like Hellboy, the structure is the ideal of choice against a greater crushing possibility. The intended perspective of the Season 2 premiere, without giving too much away, is that motivation and misplaced guilt becomes a bigger proponent than the eventual endgame. The Avengers as a reference definitely works on this principle because those heroes, like these, are defined by the choices they make. The interesting diametric here is how to portray this while keeping the themes and mining the subconscious. Raven does this in a particular way with thoughts not unlike how Beast Boy can change his form. It is a matter of instinctually knowing how to connect with people without controlling their mind. Granted in a similar way to “Grimm” many of the characters here tend to make the same mistakes, either because of ego or the nagging embers of naivete. “Trigon” as a first episode in this second season understands the shortcomings of its key parts but also how it can grow. The idea becomes one of choice but also of transcendence and loyalty. “Titans” can grow as a series if its characters continue to understand and intercede that they are more powerful together while still addressing the darkness that makes them different.

B

By Tim Wassberg

IR Print Interview: David S. Goyer For “Krypton” [SyFy – NBC TCA Winter Press Tour 2018]

Very few Hollywood writers have had the kind of interaction with both comics lore and top tier filmmakers in honing the craft. David Goyer is one of the elite few. He worked on The Dark Knight Christopher Nolan Trilogy but also on Man Of Steel & Batman Versus Superman. On top of that, he is actively working on “Fantastic Voyage” for Jim Cameron as well as being in the writers room for the new Terminator trilogy as soon as the right reverted back to the legendary director. His TV work is also very accomplished. Most recently he created “Constantine for NBC and “DaVinci’s Demons” for Starz. Next might be the most high stakes challeng”e for him via TV: “Krypton” on SyFy which follows the exploits of Seg-El, Superman’s grandfather. After completely a panel for “Krypton” at the NBC TCA Winter Press Day, Goyer spoke with The Inside Reel about texture, family and responsibility within his new series.

Can you talk about integrating Adam Strange as a sort of perceptor point for “Krypton” as a series?

David Goyer: Jeff [Goyer] and I always have a soft spot for him. As Jeff said, he’s a guy who ping-pongs around the world. I think he’s got an interesting backstory in and of himself, so maybe there was a possibility for an interesting spin-off or something like that. And we just thought we needed an audience proxy for the show. We needed somebody to represent people that aren’t comic book fans, that maybe don’t know anything about the Superman mythology. It seemed like a good match, and as Jeff alluded to, in terms of some of the other comic book arcs– there’s just some interesting things that we can do with him, particularly looking forward to season two and season three.

Can you talk about casting Seg-El and what compelled you about Cameron Cuffe as the character?

DG: It’s funny because I saw his early audition in the UK, and I called Jeff and I said, “I think he’s the guy. Check him out.” I don’t know. He’s calm and he’s heroic. He’s instantly likable as a person when I met him. I was joking about the talk, but that was a very real talk that we had in London. I said [to him], “You’re going to be under a tremendous amount of pressure, and it doesn’t mean you have to be a choir boy, but it does mean that you are an ambassador on a different plane than most comic book worlds.” And he got it. And he’s a genuine fan. He genuinely wanted to be there, which is also really important, because when you cast someone like that, you are thinking about, “Okay, this has to go hopefully for eight, nine years, and [we’re] at the beginning of it.” But he’s going to be front and center, doing all this press, meeting all these people in real life, and he will be an ambassador for us as a show. So he’s a great actor and he’s mature for his age, or it just doesn’t happen.

Now how did the whole idea, when casting, how far along were you in the writing process, and how did that sort of inset to the psychology of Seg-El as a character?

DG: I mean we were — if we hadn’t cast Cam, we would’ve had to push filming. We were right up against start. We’d already seen over 500 people and we cast sort of everyone but him.

And all 10 episodes of Season One were written at this point?

DG: No. Not all 10 were written. We’d written the first three. So we were literally talking about pushing production because we hadn’t found him, the guy. We’d already cast Georgina, who plays Lyta Zod, and the only reason she’s not out here, too, is because they’re both in so many scenes– we’re still filming — It was impossible to get them both here at the same time.

Did you ever worry, I mean chemistry-wise, that you hired the most important guy last? What if he doesn’t match up?

DG: Well, that’s why we had a screen test with Georgina. I mean, because they have to work together, because there’s a Romeo-and-Juliet aspect to the show, which I shouldn’t talk about. And so their relationship is the central relationship in the show.

This must be an intense production…

DG: It’s definitely intense. In terms of Warner Horizon, it’s by far the biggest budget — or Syfy. In terms of science fiction, it is the biggest budget show we’ve ever been on.

Could you talk about the family aspect? The whole thing with Zods. You can’t give too much away, but can you talk about the intersection of that?

DG: It’s a big, big aspect of the show, and the show is — it is as much about the House of Zod as it is about the House of El, and so family lineage, and what families stand for, and the family name, is an enormous part of the show.

By Tim Wassberg