Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020) REVIEW: Fantabulously Fine

Bathed in glitter and beating the breaks off of baddies, Harley Quinn has made a name for herself, and this time, she’s stepping back from hypersexualization, as well as the Joker. Sorry, Jared Leto, you didn’t make the cut, but we’ll see you in Morbius.

After chopping off her hair, taking time to heal after a relationship gone horribly wrong, befriending a hyena (though we see two hyenas with Quinn in the comics, Bud and Lou, there’s only room for one), and assembling a team of equally pissed-off ladies, Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) stands in center stage in her own femme fatale extravaganza. “Girl power” is put to the test as Quinn’s “Birds of Prey,” say ‘hello there!’ to Roman ‘Black Mask’ Sionis (Ewan McGregor) and his right-hand man Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina) as they covet a diamond with a crime family’s fortune encrypted into it.

Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn can be categorized by being placed in the overlapping section created by a Venn Diagram of Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman. Quinn, seeking her own independence, struggles to wholly make herself out to be nothing more than “the Joker’s ex” despite the efforts to renew her identity altogether. There is no need for her to rewrite her entire personality, but there is more to Quinn than a single trait. Dwelling on the past erases the idea of moving forward. For those who have survived abuse, this is half-hearted victory. The not-so-subtle undertones of how Quinn’s past affect her future are truths that have been candy-coated in fiction for those who can relate.

Taking place in Gotham, DC seems to forget that they can continue to build their worlds and expand their cinematic universe by exploring new locations, especially when trying their hand at something new. Returning to Gotham so closely after visiting it in Joker is boring. The feeling of invincibility may be very real for Quinn in her frenzied liberation, but the screenplay is nothing heroic. Cheering on the anti-hero is a fantastic (or fantabulous) feeling, but the dialogue can’t seem to hoist up the weight it wants to hold. Where words fail, the girls get to maim, kick, scream, and conquer. Suppose that it’s time they did, too. Wreaking havoc during gonzo fights is all the more fun, but there’s some crude stitching when it comes to the final cut. Quinn seems to strut and smirk more than anything.

Crazy is not cute, nor is it quirky, and Quinn wears the crown of pixie manic dream girl, this time without the boy swooning over her, but with an oversprinkling of Deadpool-like behavior. If anything, Deadpool and Birds of Prey parallel in their formula, interjecting and interrupting themselves as death-defying explosions illuminate the screen. Spunky one-liners accompanied by a wink can only steal the scene so many times. There is nothing profound about edginess. Though crazy may not be cute, crazy can be seen as a punk-rock sucker punch that strikes the film hard from start to finish. See-sawing from Quinn’s voice-overs back to the action, crazy is not cute, but it sure is fun. Double-dipped in madness, Birds of Prey celebrates the power of women while celebrating the power of anarchy as well- all without the need to impress a man. This new take on a comic book’s run is a coked-up and a purposefully unhinged montage of women taking back their pride. Is it deep? No. Will your hand be deep inside of a popcorn bucket? Yes.

Verdict: 5.5/10- Bursting with personality, Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn is easy to enjoy, but can’t make itself out to be more than what it already is: a messily empowering Rated-R runaway train.

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