Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn is the Strangely Overlooked Movie That Deserves a Second (or First) Look

I would have totally seen this movie in theaters, but I was sick that day.

Yeah, this movie didn’t do very good business when it hit theaters… call it a terrible marketing campaign or the fact that Suicide Squad wasn’t that good and everyone thought that this movie was Suicide Squad 2 and, let’s be honest, NO ONE would make a sequel to THAT movie.

Wait, what?

Darn it, DC… Just…. Sigh….

Welcome to Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn or, as the revisionist marketing called it, Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey… which was stupid.

In this film, we pick up with a post-Suicide Squad Harley Quinn who, having been dumped by the Joker, sets off to make a name for herself but only suceeds in convincing everyone who she has ever wronged that she is now an easy target for revenge.

Meanwhile, a non-Batgirl/assassin Cassandra Cain steals a diamond that the villainous Black Mask wants all while Rene Montoya and the Huntress tries to hunt it down and Black Canary antagonizes whether or not to follow in her famous crime-fighting mother’s footsteps.

Sufficed to say, there is a LOT going on in this movie but, strangely enough, the movie doesn’t feel like its overstuffed. I mean, sure… it’s practically popping buttons, but it never explodes. It seems to be comfortable in the “Wow, there’s a lot of stuff going on in this movie, but not so much that it’s impossible to keep up with.” It could be that it employs a reverse explosion type of storytelling where various characters are introduced and then slowly make their way to the same road through different means and reasons… the fact that all of these disparate plots exist for a reason and all end up in the same place after criss-crossing, staying parallel, and teaching each other. It somehow works.

Do I wish that Huntress, Black Canary, and Rene Montoya were more fleshed out? Of course I do. Although they are billed as leads, these characters feel more like overglorified guest stars in their own movie which, I suppose, is to be expected as this is a Harley Quinn movie and DC does feel the need to shove her down our throats at every opportunity.

If you’ve seen my reviews of the animated Harley Quinn television series, you’ll know that I’ve drastically changed my tune on the character and I’ve actually gotten quite fond of her. That being said, Margot Robbie is a great Harley… she captures the manac energy, the fake-ditziness, and the intellect that the character possesses… even better in this movie than Suicide Squad, even.

Someone else who looked like he was having the time of his life in this movie is Ewan McGreggor as Black Mask. The man didn’t care, he had no cares to give… he was there to have fun and fun he did have. The joy radiating off of this guy is so infectious that you can’t help but actually like this slimeball after a while.

The movie is high-spirited, fun, never becomes needlessly mean, and has a signature and, unlike Suicide Squad, consistent tone to it. It’s meta-aware, brutal, and never takes itself too seriously.

I would say that it’s not incredibly memorable. There is nothing that really stands out about the action pieces or the fights even though they are choreographed very well. I like that Margot Robbie and the writers took time to try and develop Harley as a character, walking her through some ups and downs, though I will say that the friendship that she developed with Cassandra was incredibly predictable and has been done a million times.

I enjoyed the movie. As I said, it’s a lot of fun, but I won’t remember anything about it in the future. Nothing terrible about it, nothing overly amazing about it… just a fun and forgettable zero-calorie cola of a movie that tastes great, but is less filling.

It didn’t deserve to bomb, though. Give it a look… it deserves at least that much.

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