Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (Yan, 2020): United States

Reviewed by Matheus Clorado.

Image result for birds of preyHarley Quinn is on the loose after Yan’s rebranding.

More so, Harley Quinn’s Emancipation reintroduces the icon to a more adult public following Joker‘s massive success and rumors of more Rated R DCEU installments to come. Director Cathy Yan (Dead Pigs) makes sure to bring the Christina Hodson’s script to life with heavy doses of humor and action.

Despite the immense anticipation’s pressure regarding this release, it does not leave viewers unsatisfied. Cinematically, it’s fast-paced, humorous and full of colorful visual metaphors. Harley Quinn, originally pitched by Margot Robbie to Warner Bros. in 2015, is authentic and it will be forever remembered as the pioneer feature that brought more grittyness to DC’s extended universe.

Robbie’s performance is impecable once again and for the genre’s binge-watchers’ joy, Emancipation acts both as a follow-up to Suicide Squad and an alternative step from Joker‘s accomplishments. Of course, being a clever move from its studio, it was bound to receive mixed criticism, especially about its female empowerment undertones. Important, yet not an easy task, representing women in times of revolution can be met with backlash even if filmed through the lens and written by the hand of fellow women.

While discussing how good of a feminist movie Birds of Prey is or could be is not the intention of this review, it’d be an empty one without praising its clear efforts to be so. Harley Quinn’s emancipation from Joker goes through several stages but it starts at the basic level. Harley’s look was updated and the classic shirt, eliminated. This symbolic visual change plays a big part in the rebranding of Harley Quinn in this progressive moment of cinema. She’s no longer an add-on to Joker’s accomplishments and earnestly claims her spot. Our protagonists are full of personality, unique and energetic when met with many obstacles in their fight against Gotham City’s crime lord Black Mask.

Visually, there are many outstandingly choreographed fight and car chase scenes, such as the “fantabulous” destruction of the chemicals factory.  The factory, Harley’s necklace and costume are evidences that Hodson’s constant use of intrinsic interest is fun and witty, just as her writing. The giant chopped ring finger on hand #7 inside the Booby Trap has to be someone else’s favorite catch too.

In sum, Emancipation’s timing and relevance is undeniable, just as its soundtrack’s absolute victory. In a “man’s world”, Harley is flying free and fantabulously as an essential bird of prey.

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