The release of Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey on Feb. 7 has brought forth fun and liveliness to the DCEU (DC Extended Universe). Harleen Quinnzel is seen on the big screen once again pairing up with other people to form an unlikely team much like Suicide Squad. The difference between this movie and Suicide Squad is that this movie is actually good with portraying colorful chaos while still maintaining the trademark dark and gritty look that DC movies have.
The movie starts out with Harley giving a brief summary of her life and her recent break up with the Joker. Harley’s background story had some cartoon animation in it that added some flavor to the recap many are already familiar with. She goes through a relatable round of actions that many emotionally unstable people do, such as: cutting her hair and giving herself uneven bangs, vegging out, and making some decisions that are rash even for Quinn. This line of events leads to her getting into tight spots that she would not be in if she still had the protection of the Joker. Without the protection of the prince of crime in Gotham, Quinn finds herself making deals with the film’s main villain, Black Mask, to find a diamond that was taken by the juvenile, Cassandra Cain.
The portrayal of the movie is parallel to what people see in the comics and earlier animated shows that involve Harley. The scenes involving colorful explosions and fights with odd objects like her mallet keep it in its fun nature much like the earlier versions of Harley. The film’s slapstick humor like the dramatic showing of Harley dropping food perfectly encases the true humor versus horrors in the eyes of Harley Quinn.
The references in the movie served as a gift to those who are well versed with the DC Universe. Some great references include: the hyena Harley bought and named Bruce after Bruce Wayne, Harley claiming she knew the guy on the “wanted sign” who happened to be Captain Boomerang from Suicide Squad, and Harley’s musical number mimicking Marilyn Monroe’s, “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”.
DC movies are often seen as grim or dark, but Birds of Prey has a range from gritty to vivid with the filmmakers paying close attention to lighting, color and costumes. The characters’ unordinary costumes, messy hair and messy makeup successfully portray the fun aesthetic.
The fitting soundtrack solidified the amazing experience. They had upcoming female rappers like Doja Cat and Meg the Stallion behind many of the prominent songs in the movie.
Despite the film’s great performance, Birds of Prey is not perfect. The convoluted title paired with the lack of successful advertising led to the movie having one of the worst opening weekends in DC’s history. In a desperate attempt to save the ticket sales, they changed the name from “Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of Harley Quinn,” to, “Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey.”
The film itself had some problems with it. The stunts were not well coordinated or convincing in the slightest. Some parts seemed like the guys were just gently picking up Harley and putting her down how one would put a dish down in the sink when their mom is asleep. The characters other than Harley need more background. Before the name change, the audience goes into the theater with the idea that they are going to see the origin story of the Birds of Prey while having the added story of Harley gaining her independence, instead, the story revolved mainly around Harley and missed the opportunity to dive into some truly interesting characters like Huntress, Black Canary and Victor Zsasz. The other main problem present in the movie is the blatant inconsistency of power in characters. The inconsistent power levels are a cheap plot tool that at least could have been disguised a little bit better.
While there are legitimate problems with the movie, some popular complaints people have are disagreeable. One of the biggest comments people have made on the movie regards the absence of the Joker in the film. It is understandable to expect Joker to be in a movie with Harley even if it is post break up, but viewers failed to realize that most of those working on the film agreed to not cast Jared Leto’s, Joker. The decision can be attributed to Leto’s distasteful actions towards the crew on Suicide Squad. It could also be a fairly awkward transition to cast Joaquin Phoenix as the Joker in Birds of Prey because the flashbacks to Suicide Squad in contrast with Phoenix’s origin story in, “Joker,” would create an inconsistency that would be hard to overlook. The other main criticism going around is that it does not feel like the film is set in Gotham. DC makes so many dark and gritty movies, they should not be criticized for successfully branching out and achieving a good mix between gritty and vibrant.
All criticisms and appraisals considered, the movie was wonderful. DC took some big steps out of their comfort zone all while taking the comics and the cast into consideration. They succeeded in making a truly fantabulous movie.