The DC Extended Universe now presents to the world its proposal to the start of the “New” New Testament: The Book of Harleen Quinzel. The short Amazon review: A false gospel. Two out of five stars.
Basically, the pitch to that book is: You know Harley Quinn’s ideal prey? It’s the life of luxury Kevin McAllister lived in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Though at one point in this perspective she gives on her ideal life of luxury, she says that the purpose of a harlequin is to serve a master, so it makes no sense why she’d continue assuming this name that demeans her to still being the Clown Prince of Crime’s pet. She should give herself a new supervillain name if she really wants to be independent from her ex-boyfriend. Plus, if Harley Quinn was real and saw this motion picture, she would dislike the cinematic style that is no different than the action of other superhero films of the past twenty years. Instead of being among the hallmarks of the comic book genre, Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) more realistically could wind up inside the “lost treasures” box.
There are many circumstances of Harley Quinn allowing funny moments to pop up, and some of them do work, particularly when she dodges an attack by going, “Ooh! A penny!” Yet those brief chuckles are ruined by the way she hypocritically lists the evil villain and cop movie clichés. Her method of sustaining the film’s energy resorts to introducing unimportant characters, and she even goes in-depth as to why she hates them—with graphics that resemble yearbook doodles; one in particular is called out because he “Voted for Bernie.”
There are a lot of flashy neon colors to spark the slow-motion editing effects against her cool stunts. The remarkable choreography admittedly works at times, especially when among the water sprinklers and when a maniacal carnival funhouse comes alive. Yeah, it doesn’t make sense that such an abandoned amusement park would have its lights and machines still work after all this time, but it at least looks like a cool, fun ride! Even when there’s no kicking or beating with a hammer, the violence makes the most of its MPAA rating: a face gets peeled off while the victim hangs upside down and a leg is seen bending backwards as Harley Quinn breaks that bone; the imagery is quite sickening.
Except no matter how bright, fast, rough, and tough it gets as the clown concept grows onto the set pieces; the absence of any message ultimately leaves the feature empty—even The Angry Birds Movie has a consistent message: play the app game. Harley Quinn just wants to be independent from her past boyfriend, as indicated by the trimming of her pigtails and a truck she rams into the same nuclear factory she and he had a make-out session in. However, the vibrant fireworks aren’t enough to erase the old Harley Quinn, because she still has that name.
As for the other bad girls Harley Quinn compiles into a gang, they each got their own stories… sort of… Basically, it includes a teenage girl who pick-pockets strangers, a police officer who wants Harley Quinn for, um, law purposes, a club singer who works for the villainous Black Mask, and a girl who masters the crossbow. They’re nothing but mere companions to make Harley Quinn look better, half of which lack a sense of ambition, which lessens the stakes of their dire situations. That low amount of passivity isn’t much better with Black Mask, as Ewan McGregor plainly overacts the role like he prefers not to be there under DC’s contract but feigns enthusiasm anyway with the future of his career in mind.
Thus, the author behind this work deserves the attention more so than her product, as whatever crap happens to her, Harley Quinn manages to keep her cool. She shows a funny opening prologue with a cartoon of her absolute beginnings—starting with when she was a mere sperm cell. Then more is learned about Harley Quinn: Her greatest love is the perfect egg sandwich (seriously, the scene where it’s prepared is pure food porn). She wears a lavish disguise made to highlight her dangerously red lipstick. She imagines herself as Marilyn Monroe singing, “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.” She gets on roller blades during a moment of critical danger. As for her memorable apartment, she shares licorice strands with her pet hyena Lady-and-the-Tramp-style and the walls are painted a hideous, loud shade of pink. So even if the feature lacks consistency in common sense, these details are fun.
Now, what’s the greatest crime Harley Quinn commits when telling her story? Well, she chooses to do it all in a “Deadpool-style,” that being, a sloppy nonlinear structure which feels stitched together last minute. Here’s an example: Right in the middle of an action, she suddenly goes, “Oh, wait! You’re confused! Well, let me go back and show you a forty-minute flashback so this scene makes more sense!” When it happens in the middle of an action, it really does happen IN THE MIDDLE OF AN ACTION, the intruding flashback interrupts the middle of her pressing the trigger of her gun, then picks right back up on her fully pressing the trigger, with her voiceover narration saying, “There, all caught up!” By then, the common viewer would have forgotten that there was any “catching up” to be done in that whole break, so the structure thus feels thrown together the day before it was due.
That level of disorder ultimately proves why Harley Quinn’s initiation of what would go on to be the forgettable, underused, lazy and obnoxious “New” New Testament will at the very end leave no positive impact. Birds of Prey could easily become a common “guilty pleasure” for the real hardcore fans of DC comics, but those fans are most likely going to be pretty hard to spot. Thus, two out of five stars.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Birds of Prey. Warner Bros. Entertainment. Web. <https://www.birdsofpreymovie.com/>.
Travis, Ben. “Birds Of Prey: Margot Robbie On Harley Quinn’s Joker Break-Up – Exclusive Image.” Digital image. Empire. Bauer Media Group, 24 Dec 2019. Web. <https://www.empireonline.com/movies/news/birds-of-prey-margot-robbie-harley-quinn-break-up/>.