A few years after whatever the hell Suicide Squad was released, Harley Quinn has her very own movie in Birds of Prey. Or, the actual title, Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn. Or, now that the movie has disappointed in its opening weekend, Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey. Much like the title situation, the film itself is fairly messy. But hey, at least Margot Robbie is pretty great!
Members of the MovieBabble staff break down some of the more noteworthy parts of the film in our Birds of Prey Exit Survey.
Describe your overall enjoyment of the film with an appropriate GIF.
Favorite side character?
Hunter Goddard: My favorite side character is probably Black Canary — if Birds of Prey can be read as a neo-noir in comic book form, with its psychologically damaged antihero, then Black Canary is the femme fatale, a beauty like a siren crashing sailors into the rocks, with a voice to match.
Brennan Dubé: Ewan McGregor brought the ENERGY as Black Mask — he was tons of fun to watch!
Callum Britter: Huntress takes the top spot for me, despite having the least amount of screen time of all the Birds. She’s a delightfully lovable weirdo which I suppose is just Mary Elizabeth Winstead‘s typecasting coming into play and she has some great chemistry with Harley. Huntress Quinn; I ship it.
Ashvin Sivakumar: Huntress. She’s a badass!
Aubrey McKay: No contest! It’s Renee Montoya hands down!
Erin Winans: In a movie that is stacked with likable characters, this is a hard question. But my favorite side character would have to be Helena Bertinelli, better known as Huntress…or the Crossbow Killer. The first impression of her is this badass female killer with the full-black attire. She lives up to this image throughout the movie, but there is also an awkward side to her which is appropriate given her background. Since she grew up as an assassin, she does not understand social cues such as fist bumps. Her awkwardness gives room for funny moments and shows that she’s human. This combination creates an alluring and wholesome character that I found myself cued in on whenever she is on screen.
Hunter Goddard: The best moment is Harley Quinn’s Gotham City Police Department break-in, a glitter-and-rainbows take on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “I’ll be back” set-piece in The Terminator.
Brennan Dubé: I dug all the fight sequences, but specifically the one that’s featured in the trailer (in the police station). Also, all the animation in the prologue was pretty great and inventive.
Callum Britter: Harley’s police station infiltration. Birds of Prey gets a lot of comparisons to John Wick, somewhat rightfully so, but this is where I think that shines through the brightest. Each shot is planned and choreographed and, unlike certain other DCEU movies, there was genuine thought and consideration put into this scene that does not go amiss.
Ashvin Sivakumar: Just the Birds of Prey teaming up! All of that was just exciting.
Aubrey McKay: The police station sequence. Plot-wise, it made no sense but it’s when the movie is at its best! The colors pop and the choreography is really dope.
Erin Winans: The best moment of the movie is when Harley Quinn decides to give up Cassandra Cain. Without this moment, people would continue to view Harley Quinn as a wholly redeemable character, but this moment shows her faults and what she values. Under the Joker she had protection whereas her status as a free agent made her a big target, so it is only natural that she would want to protect herself. Even though she bonded with Cain and formed a sweet parental-esque relationship, the need to preserve one’s safety does outshine a newly formed relationship, no matter the bond. It also allows for her to redeem herself from the mistake she made and people get to see her try to amend what she broke.
Hunter Goddard: The worst moment is the lead-up to the break-in — the film is going for a Tarantinoesque, non-linear style of storytelling here to externalize the first-person narrator’s crazed attention span, but one wishes it were done more coherently.
Brennan Dubé: Nothing bugged me to the point where I would crown it as the worst moment. However, there were some small things I think could’ve been done better. Mostly just pertaining to the supporting characters and a few small continuity issues.
Callum Britter: The post-credits ‘scene’. I probably shouldn’t have expected anything more and I applaud you for making me feel like an ass, but damn you, Harley Quinn. Damn you.
Ashvin Sivakumar: Some of the exposition definitely felt like too much.
Aubrey McKay: Almost any time two characters were talking to each other.
Erin Winans: The worst moment is when Roman Sionis/Black Mask finally looses it and makes the lady at his club get on the table and dance. He then proceeds to make her date cut off her dress in front of the whole club. This scene does not match the tone of the rest of the movie. Even being the first DCEU movie with an R-rating (second in the DC Film Franchise), the rest of the movie does not match the intensity of this dancing table scene. With all the killing that occurs, the movie glosses over that a bit and masks the horror of it all.
Let’s talk about the music in the film.
Hunter Goddard: The non-diegetic rock instrumentals riffing just underneath the surface of the action sequences are reminiscent of the adrenal sound design in Mad Max: Fury Road.
Brennan Dubé: I dug how the soundtrack was mixed within the film. Some really fun songs in there played to the tone of the film really well.
Callum Britter: As far as ‘Various Artists’ soundtracks go, it’s not the best but there are some standouts; “Joke’s on You” and “Smile” are probably my favorites and a special mention for Jurnee Smollett-Bell for the best live-action portrayal of Black Canary and an amazing rendition of “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World”. As far as integration into the film itself goes? Comparing it to the granddaddy, Into the Spider-verse, it doesn’t fare nearly as well. I can only recall one use of a scene accompanied by a song from the album (Harley blowing up Ace Chemicals) and, to its credit, it fits pretty well. Doesn’t come close to “What’s up Danger” though.
Ashvin Sivakumar: I’m not a fan of the music personally, but it fit the film so well and felt very incorporated.
Aubrey McKay: It’s a step up from the atrocity that was Suicide Squad but it still grew tiresome by the end. I’m all for a good needle drop, but 20 of them is exhausting!
Erin Winans: I think that the soundtrack compliments the movie well because it is a lot of hype, upbeat songs. Also, the covers of well-known songs like “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” by ADONA and “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World” by Jurnee Smollett-Bell were great. Overall, the songs add to the vibe of the movie and make the badass scenes even better.
Where does Birds of Prey rank among the DCEU films thus far?
Hunter Goddard: Birds of Prey is second only to Wonder Woman as the greatest installment in the DC Extended Universe.
Brennan Dubé: This movie is a lot of fun. Seriously, I dug it. I like it more than most of the DCEU films, but I’m not sure where it would land on my rankings. Firmly in the top half though, and probably my 3rd or 4th favorite up to this point. Margot Robbie killed it here!
Callum Britter: Birds of Prey surprisingly, for a follow up to Suicide Squad, earns the much-coveted laurel for ‘Callum’s #1 DCEU film’. It avoids the trap falls of traditional DCEU failures (i.e. messy CGI climaxes, grey color filter, gritty tone, Zack Synder) and bests Shazam! as my favorite of the bunch, with McGregor’s Black Mask beating Strong’s Bald-Seven-Deadly-Sin-Weird-
Ashvin Sivakumar: Second best, only behind Man of Steel for me.
Aubrey McKay: I got it 3rd.
Erin Winans: Compared to other movies like Wonder Woman, Justice League, and Man of Steel, I think Birds of Prey falls on the lower end. As a standalone movie, it is a badass female empowerment movie, but with other movies, in which it feels like more attention and time was put into them — it falls flat.
Following Joker and Birds of Prey, Would you like to see DC and Warner Bros. continue down this path of R-rated, street-level crime movies within the comic book universe?
Hunter Goddard: I would like to see Warner Bros. release more R-rated superhero flicks, but less like the self-serious Joker, and more like the shamelessly entertaining Birds of Prey, because Joker tries so hard to elevate its source material to the prestige of Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy, it becomes a shadow of those better films, whereas the unpretentious Birds of Prey does not condescend to its audience, but, rather, rewards fans of pulp fiction with what they come to see, and what they come to see done well: spectacular escapism.
Brennan Dubé: I like the direction of DC, to be honest. They have started to turn it around the last couple of years. It’s worth noting that while they’re focusing on these R-rated, street-level crime movies, they also had Shazam! last year, a very light-hearted film. I really liked that. So if DC can keep that balance, I’m all for it.
Callum Britter: Joker and Birds of Prey aren’t really comparable beyond that, and I get the feeling Birds of Prey is going to be the odd one out of the DC line-up in the coming years as much as it pains me to say. As for the R-rated aspect, I would say that it’s a hindrance to the film. Forgoing Zsasz’s Nic-Cage-esque penchant for removing peoples faces, some broken legs, some F-bombs and Sionis turning into chum, this film could’ve quite easily been shaven down to a PG-13, and while that might not have necessarily saved the box office results, I would say that it’s part of the reason why Birds of Prey has suffered the worst opening weekend in DCEU history.
Ashvin Sivakumar: Perhaps not strictly R-rated, but they should follow along making genuine films made my passionate directors with visions for these iconic DC characters.
Aubrey McKay: I’m down for any interesting stories. While I didn’t particularly enjoy this film, I admire and appreciate the big swing it took. A tighter script would improve this film greatly so I’d be down for another attempt at this. DC seems to be slowly turning things around, so they have my attention.
Erin Winans: I think continuing down the R-rated, street-level crime movies is a good move for DC and Warner Bros., but, from my perspective, they need to put more resources into them. Joker was phenomenal, but Birds of Prey almost felt like a need to get another property out as opposed to putting the care into making a solid movie. They have the capabilities of doing great (as shown in Joker), but the execution needs work. If they scaled back their releases to focus on creating a few amazing cinematic films as opposed to trying to catch up with Marvel, then they could accomplish so much more.
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