Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn
By James Davidson
DC Comics latest addition to their cinematic universe, “Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn” tells the story of Harley Quinn after she decides to part ways with her longtime boyfriend, the Joker. Without the Joker’s protection, Harley (played by Margot Robbie) finds that many of Gotham City’s criminals would like to take their revenge on her.
After being captured by one of Gotham’s crime lords, Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor), Harley offers to hunt down a young girl, Cassandra Cain, who has stolen a very valuable diamond that belongs to Roman in exchange for sparing her life. Harley teams up with the Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), The Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), and detective Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) to try to find the young girl before one of Gotham’s most ruthless criminals does.
One of my main issues with this movie, is that the name is entirely too long and unnecessary, it should just be called the Harley Quinn movie. Being the comic book aficionado that I am, I was expecting the actual Birds of Prey superhero team to actually be in the movie. While three of the members are part of the story, most of the main members of the team never make an appearance in this movie. The movie is mostly about Harley Quinn dealing with the Joker breaking up with her and finding herself in the process. I don’t understand why they even called it a Birds of Prey movie instead of just a Harley Quinn movie like it seems to be.
Now that I have gotten my obligatory comic book nerd rant out of the way, this movie did have a lot of high points to it, name aside. This film is very reminiscent of another very popular comic book movie franchise, Deadpool. Much like Deadpool, Harley seems almost self-aware as a comic character and also has a lot of the same gritty humor and violence.
The characters are all very over-the-top and exaggerated, it got to be a bit much for me. While Harley and the main characters were fine, most of the other characters appear to be put in place just to antagonize them. The movie seemed to go out of its’ way to show that anybody (other than the main characters) were just horrible, stupid people. It was a bit much and bothered me a little bit, I don’t know if it was an attempt at humor or if that’s how the filmmakers actually view the world, but it was excessive and tiresome.
While I don’t think that the humor in “Birds of Prey” is as good as the “Deadpool” movies, the action scenes are definitely up to par. The action sequences are extremely well choreographed and definitely the best part of the movie. There is plenty of action and it all kept me on the edge of my seat. The fight scenes definitely kept the pace of the movie rolling and were worth the price of admission.
As I mentioned earlier, the humor didn’t quite hit the mark for me. The jokes were just a bit over-the-top for my taste, a lot of the characters and situations just felt too exaggerated for me. The humor was very gritty and crude, but there were a few funny parts that had me laughing and there were plenty of people in the theater that seemed to enjoy it plenty.
The plot itself was decent, some of the parts in between the action scenes got a little slow however. The story jumped around between timelines and character arcs, which got a bit confusing at times and didn’t seem cohesive at first. After the movie got going however, the story became more clear and easier to follow, it just took a little getting used to.
“Harley Quinn” is rated R for strong violence and language throughout, and some sexual and drug material. It is not appropriate for younger viewers, but could be a great movie to go see with friends, or for a girls’ night out.
“Birds of Prey” is an ok movie with fantastic action and over-the-top humor and characters, but it lacks any real substance or plot. It is a fun popcorn flick to go watch with some friends. I probably will not be seeing the movie again, but it is fun to see once. It earns 2.5 out of 5 stars.