Review: “Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey”

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Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

The DC Universe seemingly responds Marvel’s “Deadpool” with their newest installment in their highly convoluted cinematic universe, “Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey.”

The “Deadpool” comparison is apparent right out of the gate, with a cartoonish sequence of expositional violence setting up the plot of the film. Technically the film is a sequel to 2016’s “Suicide Squad,” in which Harley Quinn – played by Margot Robbie – was a protagonist. But in the new installment, after breaking up with Jared Leto’s Joker, she seeks to find a new independent identity while embracing her femininity. 

I feel like most people understand that this Joker is different than the one that is making rounds at award ceremonies with Joaquin Phoenix. Although this is just how DC does their business now, their initial plan for their big cinematic universe failed, and now they’re in the process of rebuilding. Apparently the solo Batman film coming out in the next couple years starring Robert Pattinson takes place in the 90s, and is not connected to any existing films. This is totally fine, except that the superhero movie genre has changed.

Marvel changed the world with their franchise, which consists of more than twenty films that all very intelligently connect to each other, so DC will always have that expectation inside their head, even if their films are pretty good by themselves. 

To me that’s one of the few flaws with this movie – there’s no world building. After the film is over, there’s nothing. There’s a slight tease about Batman, but there’s no substance to any of that. 

Throughout the film, Harley Quinn can no longer rely on the protection that the Joker gives her, so there’s plenty of criminals from Gotham City’s underbelly coming after her. The film is narrated by Quinn the entire way through, while breaking the fourth wall separating actors from the audience, a-la-Deadpool. The editing style is also worth being appreciated. All characters are labeled in flashy, bold and often funny descriptions throughout. 

The eccentric antagonist of the film is Roman Sionis, also known as Black Mask in the comics. Played by Ewan Mcgregor, Sionis steals the show every scene he’s in. Looking online at other reviews, that take may be hot, but in my opinion I think he nails his performance and does his best with a script that would’ve been hard to pull off with anyone else. 

The movie also has video game-like fighting scenes that are very long and drawn out, but not in a bad way. A lot of times fight scenes in big budget superhero movies are short because of how expensive they are. One would think that because of how long the fight scenes and how frequent they are that they wouldn’t be very good, but “Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey”doubles down on quality and quantity while also maintaining the same sense of humor that earned the film its R rating. 

The film is a wild ride, and a fun one more than anything. It won’t surpass any expectations, but it’s still worth the price of admission. It’s feminine identity is so prevalent and is so bad-ass. The message is that women are absolutely amazing and don’t need anyone to protect them, so young girls watching are sure to be inspired. 

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