Trying to fall in love with film again.

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) from the terrible movie that is Suicide Squad.

New Birds of Prey Poster with Margot Robbie Turns Mayhem Into Fine ...Story

After being dumped by the Joker, Harley Quinn goes on a journey of self-discovery and helps save a young girl from a crime lord in the process. 

I'm going to be 100% honest, I wasn't excited about this movie. I wasn't very confident as I had no idea how the story would be about Harley Quinn while also introducing the Birds of Prey without seeming forced or redundant but this movie tells a well balanced a story that managed to give each of its characters their time to shine.

Acting 

When I wasted my time watching Suicide Squad (now to be called 'The movie that shall not be named' the one thing I said was that Margot Robbie was perfectly cast as Harley Quinn and it's more evident here now that she has the time to show her talent and understanding of the character. Her casting is one of the best in the DCEU (and I'm willing to argue about this). I'm going to be 100% honest here, I don't like Harley Quinn as a character that much. From when I watched Batman the Animated Series till now she was never a character that I resonated with but this movie made her a lot more likeable. She's still a terrible person but as the 'protagonist' of this movie, you like her a lot more in this movie than you do previous one and that is because of Margot Robbie's performance.

The cast in this movie has chemistry which is very important in a movie like this. When they come together towards the end of the movie, their relationship and banter make sense. They aren't shoved together and forced to work for the greater good. Each character has their agenda and baggage they're different, because of that, they bounce off each other in a way that feels authentic and would make me watch another movie to see how those relationships grow after we spend time with them.

The standouts were Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Dinah Lance and Ewan McGregor as Roman Sionis. The two of them (with the exception of Margot Robbie) really carry this movie as the heart of the movie and the antagonist respectively. We all know that Ewan McGregor is a good actor and its nice to see him play charming and sinister, sometimes in the span of a few seconds. I wasn't expecting this movie to show his range as much as it did.

Writing/Direction 

The movie is special in the sense that it was written, directed and produced by women. Why is that important? Characters are vessels that are shaped by not only the actors but the director and the writers. In the movie that shall not be named, Harley doesn't feel like a character with her own backstory, she is basically the Joker's girlfriend. Here you actually see her be her own person (I guess that's why it's called an emancipation.) She's a psychologist and while you see shades of that in the previous movie, it's prevalent here and actually adds to the plot while being funny. You see different shades of her which make her a person rather than a character.

I also have to mention the fact that the previous movie was directed by a man and because of that Harley is seen through the male gaze which isn't the case here and it's very evident in her costume from both movies.



When the movie came out, a lot of tweets like this one popped up and the difference between Harley in the movie that shall not be named and Birds of Prey is pretty evident.

After watching the movie that shall not be named I saw a lot of videos where people came up with ideas that could better the film (a lot of them were better than the movie itself and one of them stood out to me. This one from WhatCulture. In the video, Adam talks about Suicide Squad and how he would make it better (I would definitely watch his version) and in it he talks about making the movie a live-action cartoon, and that is exactly what Birds of Prey feels like, especially in the third act. There are some parts of it that are so ridiculous that it makes the movie 10x more enjoyable. At no point it trying to take itself seriously.

Something else that was mentioned a lot in the reviews was Harley's characterisation. I
The tone in this movie is very similar to Deadpool and that's a good thing. From the fourth wall breaks to the absurdity of some of the scenes, it manages to set itself apart from other DCEU movies while fitting itself in the loosely (emphasis on loosely) connected universe.

Something else that caught my eye in this movie was the cinematography and colour grading. It's a very vibrant movie which makes sense when you look at the central characters. Having colour makes the movie as a whole more fun to watch. Gone are the days when I could barely see what was going on due to the blue-grey colour palette. (I'm looking at you Zach Synder. No shade though). Cathy Yan's transition shots and use of slo-mo add a unique touch to the film that makes it even more fun to us. There are some truly stunning shots in this movie.

CGI/Set Design

The overall set design in the movie is cool..... The scene that caught my eye was during the third act in an abandoned amusement park (makes sense when you look at the characters involved). Though this falls under direction, the shot composition in this scene and the setting in very unique and adds to the fun tone that was established earlier in the film. 

Much like every superhero movie, CGI is used and in certain scenes it is obvious, but never obvious enough for it to take you out of the movie, I noticed it almost immediately but disregard it just as quickly.

Score/Soundtrack

The score is so-so. Honestly, as I write this I can't remember a single piece from it. It was a very generic blockbuster score, which isn't to say it was bad, it just didn't stand out to me in any way. The soundtrack though??? Now THAT was good. The best way to describe it is chaotic energy, (which is also a great way to describe this movie)  and I think it's a good thing. The song I'm going to talk about the most is Diamonds because it is the lead single and is featured the most prominently. It's a good song and while Megan Thee Stallion & Normani are not a combo that I would have suspected for this soundtrack but it works, especially in context. All in all, I like the soundtrack a lot



Overall Thoughts

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), it a long title but I really like it and I get why it was changed, it wasn't SEO (search engine optimization) friendly. The title manages to capture the wacky nature of the film. This is one of those movies that established the tone before you even watch it. From the trailer to the marketing you already know what kind of movie you're getting into before you watch it. This is what the movie that shall not be named should have been. It s a tongue-in-cheek movie that pokes fun at its universe while never taking itself too seriously. I never thought a movie centred about Harley Quinn would work but I'm happy to say that I was wrong. If I were to describe this movie in two words, it would be Organised Chaos and in the best possible way.

I wanted to add here that I saw this movie a while ago before the lockdown that a lot of us are facing due to the spread of COVID-19. I know you came to my blog for film reviews but I just wanted to highlight the importance of social distancing and washing your hands as much as you can. If you do want to watch Birds of Prey, it's going on VOD early (today actually!). Stay safe people!

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