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Movie Review: “Birds of Prey”

Birds of Prey”

Release Date: February 7, 2020

Runtime: 109 mins

Directed by: Cathy Yan 

Starring: Margot Robbie

Rosie Perez

Mary Elizabeth Winstead

Jurnee Smollett-Bell

Ever since Marvel has experienced massive success with their cinematic universe model, competitors have been scrambling to throw together their own copies, many of which have been spectacularly embarrassing failures. The most prominent and successful of these is probably the DCEU. Only within the past year with movies like “Shazam” and “Joker” has their bad track record in terms of quality seemed to turn around. Apparently, they decided it was a good idea to follow up what I see as their absolute worst release yet, “Suicide Squad,” with a sequel, “Birds of Prey.”

Is “Birds of Prey” a better movie than “Suicide Squad”? Yes, definitely. Does this make it a good movie? No. Bad may be better than awful, but it is still bad. The fact that I can actually see what is happening on screen and the absence of Jared Leto’s atrocious-to-the-point-of-being-hilarious portrayal of the Joker do not make “Birds of Prey” automatically good. “Suicide Squad” was a fundamentally flawed movie, and its sequel inherits most of those problems.

These include, but are by no means limited to, unlikeable and annoying characters, Hot Topic style edginess, awful dialogue, unbearably obnoxious editing and painfully on the nose song choices. 

I felt like I was watching a high-budget, studio-made exploitation film. It constantly tries to pander to feminists by making every male character an awful person and trying for a ham-fisted girl power type message. I kid you not when I say this movie plays the music to “You Don’t Own Me” three times and features an extended sequence in which a character sings the entirety of “This is a Man’s World.” 

The character of Harley Quinn essentially embodies these problems. She is a helpless victim when the plot wants her to be and an unstoppable ninja when it wants her to be. By her own admission, even at the very end of the movie, she is a terrible person, so it really baffles me how the filmmakers thought it was a good idea to attempt a sympathetic approach to her character. As for the other characters, they were poorly defined, hollow, uninteresting, basic archetypes we have seen hundreds of times before. Moreover, I have to say if I had not watched a lot of Batman cartoons as a kid, I would have been extremely confused when one of these characters uses her superpowers at the end of the movie without any explanation whatsoever. I was almost able to enjoy Ewan McGregor’s cartoonishly over-the-top villain because it was obvious he was having a lot of fun with it, but it was just too much. 

I was somewhat impressed with the action in the movie. Though I was unimpressed with the action in the first three-fourths of the film, I did find myself having fun with the action at the climax. 

“Birds of Prey” is narrated by Harley Quinn and is told from her perspective. By itself, this is a common storytelling style, and I have no problem with it. My issues come in with how frequently she jumps around to different timelines. At the end of some scenes where we run into a character we have never seen before, or something like that, she will say something like, “Oh, I forgot to tell you about this important thing that happened two weeks ago.” This kind of thing happens about four or five times in total. I guess the writer was trying to show the audience how insane Harley is, but it comes off as more obnoxious than it is clever. 

In short, I would recommend you stay away from “Birds of Prey.” Anyone who unironically enjoyed “Suicide Squad” might have a good time with it, but I am not sure how many people actually fit into that category. 

Drew Eckhart is a junior history and pre-law major from Edmond, OK. He has loved movies for as long as he can remember but thinks his passion really began when he watched “The Dark Knight” for the first time. His favorite type of movie blends comedy and drama seamlessly, and he loves great action films.  His favorite movie is “The Graduate.”

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