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Birds of Prey emancipates DC from bad movies

Photo via screenshot from movie trailer. Used for review purposes.

Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn is the slightly comical action movie that the DC Extended Universe has been looking for.

The story draws in the audience with the oddity that is Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) trying to live life as a normal person. This movie has strategically detached itself from the connotation of 2016’s Suicide Squad without shamelessly ignoring the previous film. 

Birds of Prey shows the modern humanization of Harley Quinn’s abstract character. There is something offbeat yet engaging about seeing one of Gotham’s most ruthless villains sitting on her couch with her newly adopted pet hyena as she watches cartoons and eats Lucky Charms cereal.

The film begins with a heartbroken Harley Quinn going through her unique version of a break-up routine after her equally-deranged boyfriend, the Joker, left her. Not only is she left on her own for the first time since becoming Harley Quinn, but she has lost the protection and immunity which came from her relationship with the Joker.

Every villain, mobster and bad-tempered citizen Harley has wronged in the past is looking for revenge. While most of the vengeful villains she faces are nothing more than an everyday nuisance, the notorious crime lord Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor) poses as a more challenging and unstable enemy.

Unlike other movies from the DC Extended Universe, Birds of Prey gives an adequate introduction of its many new characters. We are introduced to Gotham City Police Department detective Renee Montoya as she investigates the murders of multiple mobsters carried through with a crossbow. As we learn more about the crime groups in Gotham City, Dinah Lance, known in the DC comic book universe as Black Canary, begrudgingly works closely with Gotham City gangster Roman Sionis and his right-hand man Victor Zsaz.

These new characters are connected through their relationship with Cassandra Cain. Cain is a pickpocketing foster kid who constantly makes trouble for the previously mentioned detective Montoya. In an unfortunate coincidence, Cassandra steals an important diamond from Sionis. All of these characters put aside their personal grudges and vendettas to help Cain avoid Sionis’ revenge.

As the story unfolds, we are introduced to a number of new female characters. Director Cathey Yan and writer Christina Hodson chose to utilize a nonlinear timeline to connect and introduce these characters and provide a unique plot. While many of these new characters deserved their own movie, Yan and Hodson presented and developed their individual stories fairly well, especially given the fact that she managed to juggle a nonlinear plot, multiple backstories and even brief animation.

This film definitely had its signature DC tryhard moments, but it proved itself to be a much-needed step in the right direction for the extended universe. The movie greatly benefited from the artful balance of humor, engaging action sequences and serious storytelling. 

It is fair for both comic book fans and movie fans to be skeptical of this particular movie, given Warner Bros track record, but it’s a surprisingly enjoyable film. Birds of Prey is worth your time, if you’re willing to give the DC Extended Universe another chance.

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