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Sunday, September 19, 2021

    ‘Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn’

    Ben Nietzel
    Ben Nietzel works as the principal of Saints Mary and Mathias Catholic School. He also enjoys coaching Muskie football and reviewing movies.

    Muscatine Living

    “Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn” is the newest film set in the D.C. comic book universe. After separating herself from Mr. J (the Joker) and his protection, Harley needs some new friends to navigate a hostile Gotham City.

    Con – What a Mess

    Just like it’s title, “Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn” is a mess. It simply doesn’t know what it wants to be. It could be a Birds of Prey movie, focused on the formation of an all-female team of crime fighters in Gotham City, and it has the cast and characters to do that. It also could be a film about Harley Quinn and how she throws off the shackles of obsession and evil binding her to the Joker to become a better version of herself.

    Instead, it’s a half-baked attempt at both. It’s a shame too, because there is a lot to like on either side of that coin if a choice had been made. The Birds of Prey angle is really cool but only comes together through forced circumstances in the final act of the film. It’s more serendipity than a forward moving plot paying off. Harley Quinn, despite the title, seems to be very little in the way of emancipated. Instead of growing as a character and an anti-hero the audience can like, she floats aimlessly through the movie with a combination of selfishness and dumb luck.

    Pro – Acting

    What makes the “mess part” of this film so frustrating is that the cast is great. Not only that, they really go for it. Margot Robbie is a great Harley Quinn, it’s just too bad the script leaves her character clueless and stagnant. Rosie Perez is back and better than ever as police detective Renee Montoya. The real standouts though are Ewan McGregor and Jurnee Smollett-Bell. McGregor is so good in a cardboard role that I didn’t even realize it was him until the credits. Smollett-Bell is a breakout start as club singer turned vigilante Black Canary, providing the audience with someone to root for and love.

    Pro – Action Visuals

    “Birds of Prey,” is a lot more fun than it deserves to be. A terribly mashed up script doesn’t ruin the spectacle of the film. The action is outstanding. There are multiple, “I’ve got to see that again,” moments. The film also has its own look and feel that fits very much with the girl power theme in general, and Harley Quinn the character specifically. A sequence in a Gotham City police precinct is particularly cool. Harley’s pet Hyena is either so frightening if it’s real or so realistic if it’s CGI, that you’ll have to Google it to find out which it is.

    Overall, “Birds of Prey” is its own worst enemy. The film doesn’t seem to be able to decide what story it wants to tell, and so ultimately it doesn’t tell one at all. It’s a shame too, because the film has a talented cast, and really fun, well shot action sequences. It’s an entertaining movie, unfortunately it’s just not a good movie. If Harley Quinn or D.C. Comics are you jam, make sure to flock to the Fridley Palms Theatre to check out “Birds of Prey” on the big screen.

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