Movie review: Birds of Prey

David Eckstein-Schoemann, Volunteer Reporter

Seeing as how Joker has been in the spotlight for the past few decades, it’s about time Harley Quinn has her time to shine in the new movie “Birds of Prey”. Starting off on the small screen with Batman: The Animated Series, Harley Quinn paved her way into the mainstream DC comics and became one of DC’s most popular characters. She’s hilarious, sympathetic, and just the right amount of crazy. It’s not hard to see why this character has a huge following. With big names like Wonder Woman and Aquaman being smash hits on the big screen, it makes sense to have Harley star in this all female team up. 

Birds of Prey promotional poster. Courtesy of Warner Bros.

The film centers on Harley Quinn who breaks up with the Joker and begins to lead her own life in Gotham City. All seems well until Harley comes across a young girl named Cassandra Cain, who has been targeted by one of Gotham’s most nefarious crime lords, Black Mask. Now on the run, Harley teams up with fellow vigilantes Huntress, Black Canary, and Renee Montoya to protect Cassandra and bring down Black Mask. 

If you’re planning to see this movie, then chances are you’ve already seen Suicide Squad. While that film wasn’t awful, it didn’t please a lot of audiences. But one element that everyone could get behind was Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. So it made sense to have her star in what’s basically her own movie. Robbie once again is fantastic as this character, she’s crazy, unpredictable, and has a lot of standout moments in the film. The setup for her character is interesting since she left the Joker, a figure with a lot of power, she now has no protection and is being hunted by all the people she’s wronged in the past. This part of the film is pretty funny and enjoyable to watch as she’s constantly on the run from people who either want to kill her or put her in a cell.

Everyone on the cast gives it their all, but Ewan Mcgregor as Black Mask steals the show when he’s on screen. The moment you see him you can tell he’s having the time of his life on set. On top of that he’s funny, cruel, intimidating, and goofy in all the right ways. 

 While the film has some cool elements, there are a few things that people will notice while watching this movie. One thing that may confuse people is how the film is called Birds of Prey, but in reality it should have been called Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey. In that this is mainly Harley Quinn’s movie. While the Birds of Prey themselves do good jobs, they’re not given a whole ton of focus. For example, characters like the Huntress aren’t really explored until the last third of this movie. While she still gets a lot of cool moments throughout the film, you don’t even know her backstory until right before the climax. Even Black Canary who comic fans know has her signature canary cry where she lets out a hypersonic scream. I feel that fans might be disappointed as she only uses this power once near the end of the film. While I enjoyed seeing these characters interact and work off one another, I still wish they were given more attention. It gets to the point where when they finally team up it doesn’t feel like a big moment. It doesn’t feel completely earned because we don’t know a ton about these people. The main reason is because the film spends so much time focusing on Harley Quinn.

The style of the film is very extroverted as it involves a lot of creative sets with its bizarre tone of being both colorful and dark at the same time. While I enjoy the look of this movie, I can tell that they’re taking liberties with the style and characters. Even though I haven’t read Birds of Prey I can tell that there were changes made in how the film portrays its source material. The costumes are designed differently, the villain is over the top, and the story itself isn’t told like a traditional story. The film itself reminds me a lot of Deadpool in that Quinn does a lot of fourth wall breaks to the audience, introducing characters through voice overs and flashbacks. Which I don’t mind this choice considering this is coming from Harley Quinn and it kinda matches her chaotic personality. It’s weird because the movie in some ways is told out of order. The plot itself bounces back and forth between characters so that the film can catch us up to speed. Without giving anything away about one third into this film we are shown what’s essentially a fifteen minute flashback to a few hours earlier before we go back to the present. I didn’t find it too distracting but I can understand  some people who have a hard time following the plot.

Despite this, the action in this movie particularly from Harley Quinn is really top notch. You also get some cool moments with characters like Black Canary and Huntress, but the stuff with Harley is really something to get invested in. It also helps that this film has an R-rating as there are a lot of scenes here that really earn that rating. Not that there’s a ton of hard core violence throughout the film, but when they do it it’s harsh on so many levels. But then again that’s what you expect from a DC movie.

If you’re looking for an actual Birds of Prey movie, I wouldn’t say this is what this film is as most of the characters in this are treated as side characters. In my opinion, I think that they should have either made this a pure Harley Quinn movie or a pure Birds of Prey movie. Instead, they tried to do both and it feels like a mixed bag. If you’re interested in seeing this movie even in the slightest, go check it out. The action is wild, the style is wonderful, and the performances are a lot of fun. But if you’re looking for a film with clear characterizations and a more focused narrative then I say wait until Wonder Woman 1984.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Sails

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