Birds of Prey: And The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn: Film Review

Title: Birds of Prey: And The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn

Studio: Warner Brothers

Directors: Cathy Yan

Writer: Christina Hodson

Review:★★★★☆

It was asked, “Is it as good as Wonder Woman or Aquaman?” “Is it better then Batman v Superman?” Comparing it to other DC movies is unnecessary. Birds can stand on it’s own two feet. To be sure, it is a sequel…The mention of minor events in Suicide Squad are tossed around and are necessary to ground the subject matter into this DC film universe. The film doesn’t let us forget the bad taste that Harley’s previous adventure gave us. We had to learn from it and let this new world develop even more. It’s designed to build, to introduce and to entertain.

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Is the film any good? YES…It’s fun.

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The story begins with Harley dealing with her recent break-up with Mr. J. What do most people do when a break-up occurs? They drink and make good decisions. This is what Harley does. Did I say make good decisions? Ummm…not so much here. Harley announces her heart break over Mr J in explosive fashion. Each of her actions then in turn allows Harley to introduce each supporting cast in kind. Rosie Perez plays Renee Montoya. She’s a tough Gotham Detective that has seen better days. Being female has allowed others to advance further in the police force, usually on her merits. Montoya has a beef and currently has her sights set on Harley’s last bad deed. It’s wonderful plot development. In the meantime, everyone that has with a beef with Harley is out to get her.

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Through out all this we get introduction to Roman Sionis. He’s a sadistic gangster played brilliantly by Ewan McGregor. Your never quite sure which way the character is going to go. We even see moments of potential mercy from the character…or do we. The character’s primary goal is to gain more power in Gotham. It is nice to have an evil psycho killer on your side like Victor Zsasz to help out. Chris Messina’s performance is solid. I still think the character is played better by Anthony Carrigan. It’s the blonde hair. His character helps Roman, not so much, crave money but things. One of Roman’s guys in killed with an arrow and Roman state’s nobody kills my guys without my say so. Roman was an only child so it’s a nice look at his “MINE” factor. This introduces Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s character Helena Bertinelli.

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It’s Helena’s back story that drives everyone’s emotions and motivations. It also allows Cathy Yan to move the movie back and forth in it’s narrative. Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn is the character narrating the story to give us the god like point of view. Harley takes us forward and then stops and takes us back to explain the plot hole we almost witnessed. She explains some of the specific grievances that each character happens to have with Harley. It allows us the introductions to Dinah Lance, Cassandra Cain and Bruce. It’s nice that each character has their place in the this story. Almost every piece is used perfectly. A director’s cut would be cool to see all the extra bits and pieces in the story…except the story is put together exceptionally well.

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The film at it’s core is most definitely an action picture and is not for kids. It has those fight scenes when someone gets an arm or leg broken that you can almost feel the instant crack. Harley’s fighting theatrics are on point though. Each scene she goes toe to toe with a local Gotham thug is gymnastic insanity. There are several scenes that reminded me of animated Harley. I can see the character shouting, “BOINGY, BOINGY, BOINGY”. Robbie’s character bounces happily through the whole pic, even though she’s suffering a heart break. She’s more or less emancipating herself  from the Joker, Roman and even the Batman. There’s a couple a moments when the character feels like an overly sexual a object. It felt out of character and we felt bad for Harley and wanted her to bounce back. Some of the action sequences do feel like elaborate set pieces from the ’66 Batman or even Batman and Robin. The sonic cry of Heart’s Barracuda makes one of the battle scenes more chaotic and beyond fun. I can’t imagine the final fight scenes easy to shoot. The designs of each scenes make us wonder how hard to shoot. The scenes become more and more elaborate as the film continues.

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The film is simple love story to the freedom that Harley is experiencing. Keep in mind, she is being chased and is chasing through the entire film, so it’s non-stop. Even when one of her main quests is the perfect egg sandwich. The character does show her evil stripes from time to time. This is the character, but we do get some growth. To answer the opening question bluntly…it’s not as good as Wonder Woman or Aquaman. It simply doesn’t have the scale of the other two films. It’s more fun then Batman v Superman. Suicide Squad is almost hard to watch again considering how well the narrative is done here. The film does have room to grow and there’s more story left to tell with all these characters. I would recommend this film an entertaining night of action and some means of letting go.

 

 

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