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Birds of Prey Fails To Fly

Updated: Feb 26, 2020

There's nothing fantabulous about this flick.

I had a field day critiquing this movie beginning with the title, which reflects the bad judgment of burying the title character’s name. Plus, titles shouldn’t be 11 words long to begin with.

That aside I was a little hooked when I saw the first trailers of this sequel. I liked Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn character in Suicide Squad, a naughty, evil, sexy, violent wack job of a woman who somehow fell from grace leaving her day job as a shrink in a mental institution to become the trashy girlfriend of one of the most evil characters in the world of DC Comics, The Joker.

Granted, she was over the top. But we’re talking about a comic book villain here. Over the top is what I am paying to see. And she delivered, in my estimation being one of the main reasons to see Suicide Squad.

But so much can change in just a short span of time these days. The new, improved Harley Quinn has been transformed in an effort to be more politically correct. Her outfits and behavior have been tamed down and she finds herself in a world in which evil men are out to kill her. The threat is more chilling now that she has dispensed with her main squeeze “Mister J” in a spectacular fiery crash in which we are led to believe that he may have been incinerated.

For the record, we never see him or any real evidence of his demise, so you can never really be sure. Dead characters have a history of returning to life in this world of super heroes and super villains. Enough said.

Of course, Harley’s survival will involve teaming up with other victimized women with a grudge and forming a partnership know as the Birds of Prey. These days, it’s the girls versus the guys in movies like these. Getting revenge on the slimy men who deserve it.

The problem here is that the formation of this all-girl army doesn’t happen until the movie is almost over. It’s not what the preview clips would lead you to believe and you might leave the theater feeling a little short changed on the violent exchanges between these warring factions.

Granted there is some degree of violence throughout the movie. And the obligatory sadistic torture, in this case people being hung upside down while their faces are sliced off.

In this movie where everything Harley is toned down, Harley’s signature violent outbursts with a baseball bat are now reduced to non-lethal forms of violence meant to be amusing. For the record, I liked her more when she was a nutcase psychopath. I’m an adult. I can handle on-screen, fantasy violence and accept it as entertainment. One of the guilty pleasures of modern-day movie going.

About the only thing I enjoyed about the movies were the close-ups of Margot Robbie’s face. She’s one of the most attractive women in Hollywood with a ton of talent and energy that registers on that gorgeous face no matter who she is playing. I’m a fan.

What I’m not a fan of is the watering down of a character or movie franchise under the guise of being politically correct. As much as I hate to admit it, and maybe I don’t, people sometimes go to the movies to see sex and violence. That has been true since the dawn of moviemaking in Hollywood. Pick up a book on movie history if you don’t believe me.

So what we have here in the end is a mediocre version of what this well-intentioned movie could have been. I’ll accept some of the ludicrous story elements like the abandoned theme park that somehow still has electricity and can return to life at the mere flick of a switch, or the endless arsenal of crossbow bolts (arrows) the Huntress fires away despite the lack of a quiver or backpack. Or the motorcycles or roller skates that conveniently pop up out of nowhere when they are required. I know. I’m not supposed to think too much about preposterous plot elements like this in a movie that shouldn’t be taken that seriously.

So, why so serious? I guess I just hate it when movies and what we like about them seem to be sliding away. Characters like Harley that are de-fanged, attempts to change the gender and ethnicity of characters like James Bond and the blatant re-writing of history by the likes of Quentin Tarantino who seems to not have any problems having people believe that Hitler burned to death in a movie theater or that Sharon Tate is alive and well.

We live in a world in which virtually everything seems to be getting worse, on a global scale, from politics to environmental issues. Can we please reign in what’s happening at the movies? Let’s not tamper with stories and characters that we know and love.

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