The Divisive Experience of Birds of Prey
No Spoiler Review
March 3, 2020
Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn was released on February 7, 2020, and directed by Cathy Yan.
First of all, the whole cast does a pretty good job in terms of acting, especially Margot Robbie. She sells the character of Harley Quinn and brings life to kind of dull scenes with her performance. Her body acting and subtle mannerisms make her seem like a cartoonish character which was the intention. Mary Elizabeth Winstead played a very unexpected, but an interesting role as Huntress. In trailers, she seems very cool and sleek, but as her story unfolds she gets more grounded and relatable. Ella Jay Basco’s performance as Cassandra Cane felt very realistic. Sometimes she acted tough like a kid that has been through a lot and sometimes more childlike with an apprentice-like feel which made for some very sweet and sad scenes. And finally, the last of the great performances were Ewan McGregor as Black Mask and Chris Messina as Victor Zsasz. Their dynamic felt like two very close friends that had each other’s backs. They both sell their performances and have tons of fun with their roles. They both act very cartoonishly, similarly to Harley Quinn.
A character that wasn’t that great was Rosie Perez as Renee Montoya because she isn’t very interesting. In most of her scenes, she is used as a punchline and not taken very seriously or given much backstory. The jokes are funny, but some more story would have been good. Another lackluster character was Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Black Canary. She has the opposite problem. She is given an interesting story that connects her character with Renee Montoya, but other than that and two other scenes she is very stern and serious for the entire movie.
A great aspect of this movie is its action and set pieces. The fights are choreographed expertly and make good use of acrobatics and scenery to make some entertaining scenes. When the Birds of Prey finally work together it shows that these are some of the best action scenes of the year. All of the hits feel real and have weight to them. The many set pieces are great as well. Some examples are the busy streets of Gotham, a foggy pier, an abandoned theme park, an evidence room, and a very colorful police station. The police station fight feels straight out of Terminator 1, but with a twist of Harley Quinn which shows how beautiful and colorful the film is.
A lot of colors are used in this film which contrasts with the other DCEU films. It is also not just super vibrant colors that are used either, many warm colors and contrasting colors are used as well to bring different moods to different scenes. This combined with the great cinematography makes for a stunning film to look at.
A small thing to note is that the music used throughout the movie fits it perfectly. A lot of dance and rock n’ roll music is used which sounds great. Some strings are also used to raise tension.
The last aspect of this film to discuss is some strange story structure decisions. The first act is told out of chronological order, which may confuse some viewers. Right before the police station fight starts, Harley Quinn juts in with her narration and rewinds the clock to explain things. The scenes in the past go on for a good portion of time but are not dull or boring thankfully. Once the story gets back to the present it makes sense and connects together quite well. The rest of the movie is told in a standard fashion and delivers a very satisfying and entertaining story.