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An Honest Review Of 'Birds Of Prey'

Kudos to Margot Robbie for pulling a producer power move in the name of female representation.
PHOTO: Warner Bros. Pictures

The Long Plot, Sans Spoilers

Birds Of Prey is told from the scatterbrained perspective of one Harley freakin' Quinn. The story opens with Harley (Margot Robbie) suffering a nervous breakdown after being dumped by the Joker. She goes through the usual post-breakup coping mechanisms such as binge-eating, trying new hobbies, going wild at a bar, and setting Ace Chemicals ablaze in a wonderful display of fireworks. Her past antics as Joker's partner-in-crime quickly catch up to her when Gotham's criminals get revenge including Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor) and Victor Zsasz (Chris Messina). In order to get herself out of the sticky sitch, she must retrieve a missing diamond from a pickpocket named Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco). As she goes about her mission, Harley meets other equally badass women, with their own problems pertaining to toxic masculinity, who each get in her way. There's the tough-as-nails detective Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), nightclub singer Dinah Laurel Lance (Jurnee Smollet-Bell), and a highly trained assassin named Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Will these crazy talented independent women be able to set aside their differences and form an alliance to take down Gotham's patriarchy?

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The Short, Honest Plot

Harley has a breakup recovery session with the vigilante equivalent of the Spice Girls in fantabulous technicolor!

The Actors And Where You Last Saw Them

Margot Robbie as Harleen Quinzel/Harley Quinn

Our main anti-heroine was previously in the films Once Upon A Time In Hollywood and Bombshell.

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Jurnee Smollet-Bell as Dinah Laurel Lance/Black Canary

Jurnee was in the series Friday Night Lights and True Blood.

Rosie Perez as Renee Montoya

The legendary actress was in the film Fearless and also made an appearance in Pitch Perfect 2.

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Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Helena Bertinelli/Huntress

She's Ramona Flowers from Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World and was the final girl in 10 Cloverfield Lane.

Ella Jay Basco as Cassandra "Cass" Cain

BOP is Ella's feature film debut but this kid has been in shows like Veep and Grey's Anatomy.

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Ewan McGregor as Roman Sionis/Black Mask

Aside from being Obi-Wan Kenobi, he was also the lead in Stephen King's Doctor Sleep.

Chris Messina as Victor Zsasz

You may remember this actor from the film Argo and the show Sharp Objects.

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Did You Know?

1. The Birds Of Prey teaser first appeared before the screening of It: Chapter 2.

2. The film was hidden under the working title "Fox Force Five," a reference to Pulp Fiction.

3. According to the official press release, the pink cast that Cass wears was first given to Ella Jay Basco, so she could doodle all over the gauze before shooting began.

4. The hyena is actually a big dog that was altered using post-production CG. They were going to use a real hyena in the film but decided against it for safety reasons.

5. Cathy Yan is the first Asian woman to direct a superhero film and the second woman after Patty Jenkins.

What My Friend Thinks:

"BOP is not your typical girls' night out film. It's absolutely bonkers and wee bit violent. As a woman, I related to scenes depicting physical and emotional abuse and toxic relationships in general. It was empowering to see a group of girls coming together to rise above it all, showing men not to mess with ladies seeking emancipation." Ica

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What I Think:

It's about damn time that we got an ethnically diverse vigilante girl group of varying ages and physical form who kick just as much ass (and more) as the dudes. The BOP gals are multi-faceted women who struggle with their own personal issues, make morally ambiguous choices, and are perfectly imperfect in every way. I want to be BFFs with the whole team!

As a Harley Quinn fan, I was initially worried that they would force her into a do-gooder role. Fortunately, she's presented as a fun, intelligent, capable, and seriously annoying anti-heroine. Harley even uses fancy psych terminology to mess with people, sometimes speaking directly to the audience. Her interactions with the youngest member Cass are more like that of a demented older sister than a doting mother.

Yep, it's the girl with the clown makeup who ends up being the most relatable person in the film. Gotham criminals insist that Harley is nothing without the Joker and couldn't stand on her own two feet, something she tries to disprove for the rest of the film. Harley tries to be a better person but keeps slipping back into her old despicable ways. There's nothing like some fatal human flaws to make a viewer say, "same, fam."

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The action sequences are no joke! They really ramped up the violence to cartoonish levels and made the most out of that hard R rating. In an ingenious moment that would only happen if a woman had her say in an action film, a DC sister is done a solid as she's given a hair tie in the middle of a fight. If you've ever been in P.E. class or at a gym with your hair down, then you will understand the struggle of constantly keeping pesky strands away from your face.

Margot Robbie pulled a producer power move in the name of female representation. The women not only populated the big screen but also took on roles behind the scenes. With Cathy Yan as director, Christina Hodson as the screenwriter, Erin Benach as costume designer, and other capable ladies in front of/behind the camera, they were able to collectively articulate the feminine perspective.

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I'm glad that BOP didn't resort to giving Harley an alternative male fling. In fact, the only main character with a semblance of a love interest would be the out and proud lesbian Renee Montoya. In a blink-and-you'll-miss-it introductory scene, we're also given confirmation of Harley's bisexuality, so there is hope for a Poison Ivy appearance in the future. (Come through with the LGBTQ+ diversity and visibility!)

The wardrobe is a fashionista's wet dream with intricate embellishments and vibrant colors that steal the show. Kudos for having practical clothing such as high-waisted bottoms, blazers, low heels and flats, and zero booty shorts. There are also several costume changes that take place, which means more outfit options for us this Halloween. I was loving the delightful fusion of high-street wear with DIY vintage thrift store realness. The soundtrack is also a, um, "bop" filled with female musicians belting it out and inspiring anyone to throw away their ex's junk and take down the patriarchy.

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The downside of BOP? There aren't enough scenes of the girls together. The slow pacing feels like being stuck in traffic, taking forever before it reaches the destination. There was a lack of a more compelling narrative in exchange for Harley's character-driven storyline. Sure, she is the lead but it would have been better to see more team interactions and possible clashes.

Birds Of Prey, following other offbeat and colorful films such as Wonder Woman and Shazam!, is the cherry bomb topping that will usher in a new era for the DC film franchise. This film gives me hope that the DCEU will take a break from its emo heroes and their contrived mommy issues. (See: Martha)

Just like Harley, Birds Of Prey is a film that's loud and obnoxious as it cheekily tells off the sexist naysayers to shut the eff up with a grin. When women finally come together to get things done and provide better representation, they create movie magic. And I am so here for this female revolution to take flight!

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(Trigger warning: There's a brief scene of attempted sexual harassment that viewers may find uncomfortable.)

I'd Recommend It To:

  • People who are still trying to get over their breakup.
  • Anyone who has ever made walwal in public in order to get over an ex.
  • Guys who think that female-led action films are sissy chick flicks and need to sit the eff down and be proven wrong.
  • The Suicide Squad haters—this is the redemption arc, y'all!
  • Harley Quinn fans that absolutely hate her relationship with the Joker.
  • DC fans who need a break from all the emo male superheroes and villains. See: Last year's Joker and his male anguish. ("Manguish?")
  • A barkada looking for the perfect movie date devoid of straight male interference.
  • Female geeks who desire more representation and less objectification in their superhero movies.
  • Sartorialists who will appreciate the sheer beauty of the wardrobe created by costume designer, Erin Benach.
  • Ladies and gentlemen who love wild female-led ensembles such as Bridesmaids and Ocean's 8.
  • Viewers who need more female empowerment in their lives.
  • A hungry viewer who enjoys ogling mouthwatering food porn.
  • Bitter single viewers who haven't had a stable relationship in a long time.
  • Anyone who has ever been chained to a toxic relationship, whether platonic or romantic.
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