Film reviews

Birds of Prey review -“Guest starring” Harley Quinn!

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Oooh boy, a certain Stallion ain’t very happy with this one.

Well, this is a rather pleasant year isn’t it? I guess as one should say: “Holy Quarantine, Batman!” People are being laid off from work (including me sadly), businesses are closing, and we’re right smack dab in the middle of a nasty plague. Hopefully, the rest of us are either self-quarantining ourselves, staying safe, and practicing social distance to curb the spread of the dreaded Coronavirus, so our future doesn’t become as bleak as the one presented in “Contagion.”

Anyways, this blog has been absent for a while. Needless to say, the owner has decided he’s got a life now and I, Critical_Stallion, have now inherited it from him. So, enjoy the new look and feel of this WordPress blog that I and my employees have so desperately tried working hard on furnishing and renovating.

But, in all honesty, it’s still the same me, just with a different username and maybe an edgier, more nihilistic outlook on life. Anyways, that’s enough about me for a while! On to the review!

birds of prey 1
This Harley Quinn likes to play dress-up

It isn’t safe to assume that DC has been getting better the last couple of months. While I have my fair share of gripes with the likes of “Aquaman” and “Wonder Woman” by finding them to be nothing more than your average superhero flick, 2019 has been a pleasant surprise for the comic-book juggernaut. “Shazam” and “Joker” were both a refreshing breath of fresh air and a nice break from the generic plotlines and character archetypes that were ever so present in these modern-day superhero blockbusters, and I too felt DC was suddenly starting to innovate and improve where Marvel was starting to falter. So, despite “Birds of Prey” initially coming across as another attempt to cash in on the female empowerment trend like Marvel was doing with “Captain Marvel” and the upcoming “Black Widow” movie – as well as that rather forced scene towards the end of “Avengers Endgame” – I still had hope judging by my rather joyful reactions to their previous two installments. Finally, DC would do as they promised and learn from their mistakes from the abysmal “Suicide Squad”. I was stoked, at the edge of my seat in the theatre, and…

…the film was a gigantic piece of shit.

birds of prey 3
A common reaction shoppers have during the recent outbreak

No, the film wasn’t just a disappointment, it was legitimately garbage. It was so trashy, that I was convinced that DC was now back to their old ways again. But, before we close off the review, let’s unpack all the flaws that made me loathe this turd so freaking much.

First of all: Harley Quinn. I’m getting sick of how DC is trying to transform her into another Deadpool figure – save that for Lobo, guys! To shed some light on this, Harley Quinn was originally created as a love interest for The Joker in “Batman: The Animated Series.” She was goofy, lovable, and perfectly complimented The Joker’s antics while also adding some levity amidst his sociopathic rampages throughout Gotham. But, one key component of her character was that she also highlighted just how monstrous The Joker really was as a character, that he wasn’t just the polar opposite of the Batman, but also an abusive prick. By placing Harley in this abusive relationship with him by having her be oblivious to The Joker’s true intentions of having her around, it creates an extra lew layer to her character, having her be not only the comic relief, but also a tragic figure whose fatal flaw is her obsessiveness towards the clown prince of crime. Something which “Suicide Squad” completely glosses over. Unfortunately, “Birds of Prey” seems to continue the trend “Suicide Squad” brought to the mass public, by just flat out turning Harley into a mishmash of Lobo, Deadpool, and Jack Sparrow. All throughout the film, she just has no motive and sort of just exists as a form of comic relief. In fact, the film is more about her than it is about the Birds of Prey themselves. No matter how many minutes the rest of the gang are on screen, Harley’s presence eclipses them alone. It also doesn’t help that the other main protagonists are written to be nothing but stereotypes. Let’s see; Black Canary is just some generic tough girl who’s one defining character trait is that she uses her legs a lot (and she’s the only member of the cast with superpowers) , Huntress is basically a feminine version of John Wick, and Montoya is every single deadbeat cop cliché rolled into one tightly wrapped package. And let’s not forget how they completely butchered Cassandra Cain’s character. In the comics, she was Batman’s apprentice, but here she’s just a troublemaker who is completely and utterly useless in almost every scenario. Everything about this film is just all about Harley, so you might as well just call this “The Harley Quinn movie”.

The film is also an example of the whole girl power thing going completely out of control. I mean, I’m all for feminism. Hell, you could say I’m one of the biggest supporters of the woman’s rights movements around here and I’m a guy! But, this ain’t the way to do it. Ellen Ripley from “Alien”, Sarah Connor from “The Terminator”, and Katniss Everdeen from “Hunger Games” are some of my favorite examples of female action heroines that are written well and act as great role models for women all around. Girl power is fine and all, but to utilize it to the point of hindering all your male characters is just insulting. It talks down to women and makes men seem evil and malicious. And that’s what’s shown throughout this entire film. There isn’t a single important male figure here that isn’t a complete dickhead and much of the runtime is dedicated to seeing them being beaten up like morons. None of them stand any sort of chance against the heroines here. There wasn’t a moment where I felt anxious for the main characters because the film just basks in its identity as a female empowerment fantasy.

birds of prey 4
Disney wants their Lion King reject back

But my biggest issue with “Birds of Prey” is just how painfully unfunny, tryhard, and boring it is as a movie. Nobody at Warner Bros learned from their mistakes from “Suicide Squad” here. Sure, “Birds of Prey” may have a better villain, but it also exhibits the same problems that plague the 2016 critical disaster. I don’t even see how this film is even certified fresh on RottenTomatoes when it has many of the same flaws as the film Warner Bros is trying to retcon. The humor is corny and immature with nary a moment during its runtime that managed to get a laugh out of me. For a film that is trying to be comedic, that is a bad sign.

The only elements that I found really enticing about the film are the action sequences and its main villain: Black Mask. Warner Bros made the right choice of hiring the stunt team behind the John Wick films and it most certainly shows. Every hand to hand combat scene has a lot of weight to it with extra attention being paid to highlighting the fighting prowess of each individual member of the cast. While Margie Robbie’s Harley isn’t true to the lore set up by the Animated Series, her incorporation of both gymnastics and martial arts is really fitting to her character. The same could be said about the other fem fatales, with Black Canary making great use of her legs during fight scenes, Huntress being heavily inspired by Batman, and Montoya’s skillset being similar to that of a deadbeat cop with heavy reliance on the good ole fisticuffs. Each fighting style is incredibly diverse and is perfectly shown on screen through excellent choreography and stuntwork. It makes it at least a little more exciting to sit through. As for Black Mask, he’s a little on the crazier side compared to his comic-book counterpart but is nonetheless portrayed flawlessly by Ewan McGregor. The guy just understands how to make his character as threatening and as intimidating as possible and ensures that every scene he’s in takes full advantage of the R rating that the film so confidently flaunts in its marketing. Too bad his confrontation scene is incredibly anti-climatic, therefore backing up my point that the male characters just take a backseat to all the females, no matter how well portrayed they are. Thanks a million “Bird of Prey!” Even your villain sucks because of this female agenda you’ve so prominently put on display.

birds of prey 2
The one saving grace of this movie

Overall, “Birds of Prey” is the equivalent of a high school dropout who’s big into feminism, drugs, and hot topic. It constantly tries to promise to improve itself, but only relapses into the same dingy behavior repeatedly. I think it’s safe to assume I’m not interested in checking out James Gunn’s remake of “Suicide Squad.” Sorry DC, but fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me!

Final Verdict: 3/10

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