Birds of Prey is a female written, directed, and focused film. Writer Christina Hodson wrote Bumblebee in the Transformers universe, so she has all the credentials you need for a superhero movie. This is director Cathy Yan’s first major full-length film. The movie plays off Suicide Squad, but only in passing; there are way too many Jokers these days. The movie doesn’t seem to settle between a Harley Quinn film and an origin story for the ‘Birds of Prey.’ There is a lot of setups to get them together, but the movie doesn’t leave you desperately waiting for a sequel.
Harley Quinn has left The Joker; I assume it would be confusing to have a Suicide squad joker and Juaquin Phoenix so close together. The men of this version of Gotham all think Harley is a weakling without joker’s protection. They incorrectly believe that she is vulnerable on her own. I guess none of them acknowledged the skills she portrayed when she beat them up the first time.
Roman Sionis is the villain of the movie, a rich asshole who is very uncomfortable with himself. He doesn’t do his own dirty work, but he strikes fear into others and is second to Joker in the crime world of Gotham, I think. He feels like a very generic bad guy with minimal time spent acknowledging why he chose to be a supervillain. The lack of a backstory makes it more difficult than it should be to cheer against him. His intimate killing methods and hair-trigger temper are all you have to go on.
Warner Brothers had some spare change lying around so they got a cat and a dog for this movie. The cat is a gorgeous Jaguar XJS V12 convertible; find them for $3000 on your local Craigslist. The dog is a CGI Hyena, possibly taken from the same savanna as the ‘live-action’ Lion King. I enjoyed the car being part of the movie, but it isn’t as zany as you would expect for Harley Quinn and neither does it fit Dinah Lance, the singer who Harley steals it from.
In the closing act of the movie, several storylines finally come together, and the Birds of Prey are united. A setup movie would have had them together much sooner, but a Harley Quinn movie wouldn’t have had them at all. I would be interested in a sequel, but I am not clamoring for one.
There is a different rating scale for DC versus Marvel movies. Aquaman and Wonder Woman have both been solid movies. Suicide Squad was not as terrible as Batman v Superman, but Harley Quinn was the best part. I am all for female superheroes, or villains I guess, getting staring roles. This movie was enjoyable, but in the end, it is just fine, nothing spectacular, just fine. If you are a superhero movie fan I think you will generally enjoy this movie. It is fun to see a colorful, day light-drenched Gotham.
The movie had a dismal opening weekend and was renamed before the second weekend to try and attract attention. Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn is a mouthful and puts the most important two words at the end. Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey is how this movie should have been named form the get-go. I don’t understand how the original title made it past a single focus group.