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   Movie Reviews: Birds of Prey
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Studio:
     Warner Bros.  (1hr. 49mins.)
Plot:
     The Joker’s side kick Harly Quinn strikes out on her own.
Cast:
     Margot Robbie, Rosie Perez, Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Ewan McGregor
Rating:
     R
Bottom Line:
     ****

Coverage:
by
Jon Rutlege

This movie does exactly what it says on the tin. It's a story of recovering after an emotional breakup. “Birds of Prey” does not flow in a normal from start to finish fashion primarily, because it's told by someone who suffers from several mental disorders. It feels like a crazy person telling a story. That's not a bad thing, it is very accurate to the character. There are different female team-ups within the comic series, so the filmmaker takes quite a liberty with the original story elements, but they play well on the screen. Like “Wonder Woman,” (’17) “Birds of Prey” is another example of how a woman-focused hero film can be profitable.  

“Birds of Prey” picks up right after Harley Quinn (Margo Robbie), and the joker breakup.  She is trying to find herself as a single person, and also needs to navigate a new world where she doesn't have the protection of the Joker.  Black Mask (Ewan McGregor) is out for a little revenge, and Harly joins forces with others who have wrong Black Mask to take him down. The Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), and Detective Montoya (Rosie Perez) have all earned the ire of Black Mask.

All other characters take a backseat to Harly's Journey. This picture is more of a Harly movie dressed up like a “Birds of Prey.” Warner Bros. needs to make this franchise like comic books and explore using different female characters together as a rotating cast to test out how each play on screen. You can even have Harly be the narrator for each film. She can be the continuing thread that connects all of these films. The benefit is it doesn't have to be stuffed into a trilogy.  Have a good idea for a team-up? Throw it into the “Birds of Prey” team up format.  None of them have to have a vast over reaching story arch.  Having a good idea for a three-movie story still works in this format. Just make sure that you use the established movie rules, and you're fine.  There is enormous potential here. 

This movie pushes the rating boundary to an R rating. It seemed like they were amping up the elements to shoot for an R rating rather than letting the story and the characters organically take you to that rating. The fight scenes are a tad more extra crunchy there are more graphic images that a typical DC film.  The action scenes are all top-notch, and utilize a great use of the surrounding environment in all of the fights.  Many impacts and explosions were very cringe-worthy.  Those who don't do well with seeing limbs bending in odd directions, twice, may want to consider this before going to view it.

Blood splatter and bone-crunching aside, the heart of this story is in the film's subtitle, "And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn." Often overlooked and pigeonholed into a sidekick, Harley Quinn is a compelling, intelligent character who suffers from some substantial mental problems. It's nice to see her grow into a person facing the life change of being single. She still is damaged and makes mistakes, but that makes her more engaging. 

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