“Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn” is a bit of a mess. Just look at the title. But that’s alright, it’s messy on purpose. It’s alright because it’s a grimy, over the top, candy-colored funhouse of a mess, and whenever Harley Quinn is involved, that is simply the only kind of mess to be had. It’s DC’s “Deadpool” in that its irreverent, wacky and funny in an adult way.
Margot Robbie reprises her role from “Suicide Squad,” and cranks the craziness up to 11 while trying to find herself in a world apart from her puddin’, as well as trying to stay alive long enough to get emancipated.
Ewan McGregor is the Black Mask, the big baddie who wants Harley dead and forgotten, and he’s not the type to get in line with all the other riffraff out for the clown girl’s ponytails. It’s something of a new and different role for him, and you could tell that he was having just a little bit of fun.
Joining Harley this time out are other characters from the comic books such as Black Canary, Huntress, Detective Montoya and Cassandra Cain, played by the latest poster girl for geek Pinoy Pride, Ella Jay Basco.
Just like Harley, all the other Birds are quirky and broken. There’s something a bit off about each one. They don’t all quite fit in, or are recognized for what they can do or are just down on their luck, and all of them, in their own way are looking for some sort of emancipation. And, in a fun reversal of cinematic conventions, it’s those moments where they reveal themselves, when they’re vulnerable, that provide a bit of dramatic relief to all the wackiness going on.
With the whole leading cast being comprised of women, it is easy to think that the movie is DC’s way of jumping on the whole bandwagon of feminism, and girl power and forwarding the cause of women’s empowerment. It even has a female director at the helm, Cathy Yan.
And yet, it isn’t that kind of movie at all. At no point does the movie get up on a soapbox and start preaching. None of them are perfect. Not a single male in the whole movie ever did anything right by them, either. Cathy manages to balance the craziness and show us female characters that are broken but interesting, and imperfect but trying.
“Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn” is very much a stand-alone film in the DC Extended Universe. It doesn’t directly set anything up for future installments, nor does it directly reference much of any past events either, save the mention of the existence of the Batman and Joker. Its loud, proud and candy-colored to the brim. And you don’t have to have seen Suicide Squad understand it. You can just jump right in, and enjoy the fantabulous-ness.