Review: 'Birds of Prey' Is a Fun but Unremarkable Detour
Cameron Lee ‘20 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
The DC universe of films has been on, what most would consider, a major course correction after the big-screen equivalent of taking the dump that was the Justice League. Now, anything is on the table including the Academy Award-nominated Joker and, now, a Harley Quinn spin-off entitled Birds of Prey, or, if you want to be specific by using the actual title, Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of Harley Quinn, you would be wise to not actually use that title because, to put it bluntly, it’s a stupid title. The film, on the other hand, was not a stupid idea, in fact, it’s easily one of the best DC films since the studio went back to the drawing board.
The plot of the film, which is definitely its weakest element, has Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) breaking up with the Joker (Jared Leto, you will not be missed) and forging her own path, her emancipation if you will. She soon finds herself in the crosshairs of the crime boss Roman Sionis, played to scene-chewing perfection by Ewan McGregor, and a MacGuffin plot emerges soon after from a diamond which brings Harley into conflict with four other comic book heroines.
The plot goes back and forth in time to introduce the four members of the eventual team the repetitive nature of this mechanic, while annoying and by the numbers, does a decent job of affirming the film’s desire to be the next Deadpool, fourth wall breaks included. Fortunately, the cast works well together as well as when they’re apart.
Standouts aside from Robbie and the over the top but comedic gold McGregor is Mary Elizabeth Winstead as The Huntress. Her comedic timing and personality causes what otherwise would be a boring and generic character on paper to be a breath of fresh air in the film. Too bad she isn’t in more of the film, but hopefully she gets to do more in the future.
Cathy Yan does a solid job of directing the action scenes as well as the banter between characters. The action is a victim of having way too much slow motion but it’s well choreographed, violent fun, which isn’t a surprise, as the second unit director was Chad Stahelski, the director behind the John Wick films. The film is colorful and not in the slightest sense serious. Matthew Libatique knows how to shoot superhero films and he does so again here. It’s not stand out work but it’s better than all the grey and uninteresting looking superhero films coming out. Harley Quinn is a crazy antihero and the film reflects her craziness.
As previously mentioned, this film feels very much like Deadpool’s cousin which at times can be tiresome as a been-there-done-that. But when the team of ladies comes together for a fun climax, it’s easy to forget that notion and just have a good time. The film doesn’t outstay its welcome, clocking in under two hours if you count credits, and that’s for the best. Birds of Prey does nothing new or noteworthy for the genre, but it’s a fun way to waste an afternoon. You could do far worse, but you could also spend your time with something better, but don’t tell Harley that!
Overall Grade: B-
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