The fact that the marketing of BIRDS OF PREY: AND THE FANTABULOUS EMANCIPATION OF ONE HARLEY QUINN (the real damn title) has to cater to some people because of low box office returns and the fact that some of them even said they had no idea that Harley Quinn was in the film is just plain stupid. If you had no idea Harley Quinn was in this movie, you are stupid. Period. There I said it. No take backsies. I for one, like the long and unique title, but agree that it probably should’ve been called something like Harley Quinn Meets The Birds of Prey in the first place. But the fact that the marketing and title has to change after the film has already released for some dumb asses that don’t know their ass from a chair is frustratingly idiotic. The film itself? In my opinion, pretty damn great. I enjoyed the entirety of it, from the time shifts, to Harley Quinn’s narration, to the small scale story in the big DC universe, to the performances, to the action, to the best villain in the DCEU yet, all of it. Is it a perfect film? Absolutely not, but its a helluva fun ride that I would like to visit a few more times during my lifetime.
The plot of Birds Of Prey changes course several times throughout the film, due to non linear storytelling, but suffice to say, it’s about Harley Quinn’s breakup with the Joker. She then has a target on her back since she’s not being protected by him anymore, and then it eventually gets into how she makes herself someone to fear and then her team up with a couple of bad ass women, all with their own little stories of revenge and emancipation. There they all become mixed up with a psychotic, possibly homosexual, gangster with his right hand man/possible lover, needing this unique diamond that may or may not be more than what it seems. Phew, that is a lot stuffed into an hour and 49 minute movie. But it all works. The film takes it time and doesn’t try to stuff all these characters down our throats immediately and then doesn’t try to put them together in minute 5. It’s a slow burn little small scale story that pays off in spades in its third act with some steady cam action and fantastic humor. Now I don’t read comics (anymore) so I can’t really compare these film characters to their page counterparts, but I do know there are a lot of complaints from comic/DC fans out there that none of the characters (especially the Birds of Prey and Cassandra Cain) are comic book accurate and I for one say…so? My enjoyment of the film is based solely on the fact that the characters worked with the story being told/script that was written and it never crossed the line of being too cheesy/comic book-ey, with a dash here and there of some actual realism. Fake fanboys out there need to stop fucking complaining.
The movie also gives us the best DCEU villain to date with Ewan McGregor as Black Mask. Ewan looks like he’s having a hell of a time hamming it up, and it is something we haven’t ever seen from him before. My real only complaint about the film is that it doesn’t commit fully to whether or not his character was homosexual and if he was a lover to his right hand man Victor Zsasz. I mean, did the filmmakers not want any gay panic retaliation from movie goers? Who the fuck cares, I think they should’ve went all in with it and it would’ve made their relationship more dynamic and relateable. Instead it just tip toes around that fact. This isn’t Disney, this is an R rated comic book feature adaptation. People in real life are gay, getting married, and living their lives, why the fuck are we still hiding this shit in movies? When Hollywood tip toes around this issue, they are just supporting the dumb motherfuckers who can’t stand homosexuals for no good reason at all. It’s sickening and stupid. LET CHARACTERS BE GAY AND PROUD IN MOVIES!!! Rant over. Anyway, other than that, loved the villains in this. The rest of the DCEU needs to take note that this is how you get villainy right, not with a giant CGI monster creation looking just for world domination, but a realistic asshole of a human being bent on smaller scale gang rule warfare. It was quite refreshing to say the least.
And let’s give a round of applause to Margot Robbie, now my favorite actress. Being one of the few brights spots with the frustrating Suicide Squad, she completely shines in this movie, making Harley Quinn her own. She’s just the right amount of psychotic, funny, charming, and dangerous bad ass female character. This is her movie, and I hope that the box office picks up so we can get another small scale story like this one with her in it. And while I would’ve liked to see a little more of Huntress and Black Canary in the movie (especially Huntress, who I feel really got the short end of the stick), their stories were told almost to perfection and the acting from Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Mary Elizabeth Winstead was solid, funny, and enjoyable. Hell, I’m not even a Rose Perez fan and I think she did great as Renee Montoya and Ella Jay Basco, who played Cassandra Cain, was good in her supporting role as well. And the (apparently reshot with the director of the John Wick movies) action sequences? All very well done. When Harley Quinn got some cocaine in her, using her bat and glitter gun, kicking ass and taking names whether it was the water fight jail sequences or in a back storage room, all very well choreographed. And the third act, when all of them get together to kick ass, loved the steady cam and action mixed in with some humor, all fantastic. And the set design with the abandoned fun house park look gorgeous. I’ve heard that some fake fan boys are boycotting this film because of its “feminist agenda/girl power” things in the movies. All those fake fan boys needs to just kill themselves in mommy and daddy’s basements. In Birds of Prey, it is a wonderful cool female LED film, and it doesn’t try to shove feminism down your throat at all. It works with established female characters to make a fun film. It isn’t man hating. Get over it losers.
Another complaint is that I think the movie would’ve worked better if you had Jared Leto in a cameo capacity as The Joker again. I know, I know his gangster Joker wasn’t very well received (even by me) but after re visiting Suicide Squad, I think the writing was the problem in that, and Leto’s take on the Joker wasn’t really that half bad. Him as an extended cameo in this could’ve bulked up Harley Quinn’s emancipation story more, but let me stress that this is a minor complaint, her story still works very well. This is director Cathy Yan’s first mainstream film, I hadn’t seen Dead Pigs or any of her other theatrical shorts but, I admire her talent and eye for the camera here, and feel like she’s going to make a masterpiece one day, keeping hiring her Hollywood! Screenwriter Christina Hodson, whose previous writing credits made me worry (she wrote the abysmal Bumblebee, Unforgettable, and Shut In), did pretty great here, and shows she has some untapped talent. Just please don’t go back to writing that unimaginable filth, especially shit like Unforgettable. It’s just a small scale story set within the grander DC Universe, and it all felt very refreshing. This was 100% better than Suicide Squad, and probably my third favorite DCEU film in general. Would love smaller scale stories like this and not more headache inducing CGI madness like the giant Frankenstein monster that was Justice League. Please God let the DCEU keeping making these steps in the right direction and never ever ever ever ever have a film made like Justice League ever again. Ever. Let me reiterate, you can make another Justice League film to redeem the last one…just don’t make the same stupid mistakes. Or just Release The Snyder Cut and make that canon. Ball is in your court Warner Bros.
My ranking of DCEU films (remember that Joker isn’t part of it!):
- Wonder Woman
- Birds of Prey: And The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn
- Man of Steel
- Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition
- Suicide Squad
- Justice League