By: Ryan Farrell, Staff Writer
Last weekend marked the release of DC’s first film of the new decade, “Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey”. This violent anti-hero piece is full of life and color; it heavily differentiates itself from past films in the DC Universe. While it’s unique style is impressive, it often messes with the series’ continuity. The intense performances from Margot Robbie and Ewan McGregor are mesmerizing, but as a result, other characters fall by the wayside. While the film is elevated by its exciting and unique style and performances, the pacing drags it down.
After Harley Quinn’s tragic break up with the Clown Prince of Crime, she prowls Gotham searching for emancipation from her previous reputation. During her misadventures, she encounters Black Canary, Huntress and Renee Montoya; each of them are also searching for their own liberation. Meanwhile, after a young girl swallows a priceless diamond, the infamous crime lord Black Mask places a bounty on her head in an attempt to claim the treasure. Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey reluctantly put aside their differences in order to protect the girl at any cost.
The centerpiece of “Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey” is Margot Robbie’s portrayal of the iconic character. It is evident that she is intimately familiar with the character and as a result she plays the part to near perfection. While she’s often child-like, her violent persona is often unpredictable. Robbie’s passion for the role is undeniable, which is likely why she is the lead. As a result, the characters within the Birds of Prey conglomerate are not nearly as developed. Robbie is the main focus of the film, which is likely why the title was changed from “Birds of Prey and the Fabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn”. Other than being a mouthful, the original title implies that Robbie is an addition to the team, when in reality the other members almost feel like an afterthought.
A confusing aspect of “Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey” is that it feels embarrassed of its indirect predecessor. “Suicide Squad” set up Harley Quinn’s origin story and developed her rocky relationship with Joker, yet the character is practically missing from “Birds of Prey”. This is especially bizarre because the majority of the film is centered around their break up. It feels unnatural for Joker not to be directly involved with the plot. His only appearances are a few shots that show the back of his head for a couple of seconds, evidentially played by Jared Leto. It may be because there has been another actor who played that character since the release of “Suicide Squad”, but it feels as if the studio is ashamed of its previous rendition. This breaks the immersion and leaves audiences scratching their heads.
“Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey” is now showing in theaters.