The movie with the longest title of the year so far, Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn, has arrived starring Margot Robbie once again as the DC villain/anti-hero, Harley Quinn.
Robbie appeared as Harley originally in the Suicide Squad a few years ago and is easily the standout of a movie that was nearly universally maligned. The question was whether Robbie could bring the magic to Harley Quinn once again and would the movie be better?
The answer to both ends of that question is yes.
I enjoyed Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn very much, and, once again, Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn is easily the standout of the film. This time, however, there is more to enjoy and there is nothing as egregious as the Enchantress.
In this movie, Harley Quinn has broken up with her puddin’, the Joker, and she is not handling it well. When the news gets out, the benefits of being the main squeeze of the Joker, such as a general protection it buys you, was gone and Harley was finding out that there were several people with grievances with her.
One of the people out to get Harley was one of the crimelords in Gotham named Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor) aka Black Mask. Sionis was also attempting to acquire a special diamond, but, unfortunately for him, it was stolen by pickpocket extraordinaire and young girl Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco). This sent Harley, as well as all of the mercenaries of Gotham, after the girl.
One of my concerns about Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn from the trailers was the secondary characters. The trailers made the supporting cast seem fairly unimportant, if not, lackluster. And truthfully, there was some of that, but I felt that Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn did an admirable job with the characters. Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) was actually very well developed and the Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) was reasonably developed, although underused. I would have liked more from the character of Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez).
But the film is not really a Birds of Prey film, it was a Harley Quinn film, and Harley Quinn gets the bulk of the screen time. This is the correct decision because Harley is thoroughly entertaining and wonderfully played by Margot Robbie.
The film did have a bit of an issue with Roman Sionis though. This is not an issue with Ewan McGregor, who was great in his comedic-crazed manner. However, the character of Roman Sionis was fairly underdeveloped. He was a crazy villain who did things just because. He was one-note and truly did not have motivation deeper than his own wants. McGregor was great in the role, but his shtick did wear on a bit. He was such a horrible person that you could not stand the guy at all.
The action was very well done. Harley Quinn was fantastic and funny with every scene she was in. I do have one nitpick though. There were a couple of times when it was pretty clear that, during the fights, you could see Margot Robbie’s stunt man, who looked like he was considerably burlier than Robbie. It happened a couple of times and was momentarily distracting. Yes, it is not that important, but I did notice it.
Still, the star is Margot Robbie who is perfectly cast as the psychotic Harley Quinn. We can relate to Harley despite the terrible things that she has done or is doing because Robbie infuses the character of Harley with such humanity and empathy that you can’t help but root for her. Yes she is clearly a criminal and a murderer, but she is a beloved figure.
Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn is certainly violent and earns the R rating it is given. Though the violence never really goes too far, this is not a children’s movie which may hurt the box office for it.
DC has been very solid recently with their films. Although it was better than some of their previous movies, I did not love Aquaman, but Shazam was great and Joker is Oscar nominated. Toss in Wonder Woman and you have a pretty effective series of stand alone films which are much better than when they were trying to force everything into a Marvel-like shared universe. This is the path they should continue on because they are having much more success. Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn may have some story issues and the lay out of the film may be a bit clunky at times, the film is enjoyable and fun to watch. It is colorful, filled with awesome action and some genuinely engaging characters, especially Harley Quinn herself.