Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn): Movie Review

We wanted to love "Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)". The action was different in a world ruled by CGI with its use of practical effects and real-life choreography. But the uneven tone and pacing meant that this feels a little to familiar to the much maligned "Suicide Squad" at times. While "Birds of Prey" is a fun and unique experience, it has a lot of flaws that we just cannot write off easily.
When Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) is dumped by the Joker, the protection she had against those who hate her suddenly disappears. Instantly, every low-life in Gotham is out to whack her. One of these men is Gotham’s most nefariously narcissistic villain, Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor) with his zealous right-hand, Zsasz (Chris Messina). When a precious diamond is stolen from Sionis' by a young girl named Cass (Ella Jay Basco), Harley is forced to choose to save her life, save the kid, or team-up with Cass, Huntress, Black Canary, and Renee Montoya to take Roman down for good.
The first half of "Birds of Prey" was a mess. While we get why it decided to do the route of presenting its story in a jumbled manner, the execution wasn't clean. In fact, once "Birds of Prey" decided to go straight forward in its second half, the film immediately becomes a whole lot better. Of course, it helps that the action also ramps up by then but the whole film was littered with pockets of in-your-face fights and action sequences superbly choreographed. Inspired or helped by the director from "John Wick", this is not surprising at all. Let's just say that the action was the film's strongest point. Not only with its choreography but the camera work was outstanding putting the viewer right inside the fights. The practical effects and practical set pieces are also a huge breather in a genre ruled by CGI. Back to the narrative, we found the film's villain, Black Mask, lacking. The character was played by Ewan McGregor in a very eccentric manner. He gave it his all but we just couldn't find ourselves loving his quirky demeanor. Case in point, we found his right hand man Zsasz (played by Chris Messina) a whole lot more compelling. The cast itself had great chemistry between themselves with great acting, great script, and undeniable humor. Admittedly, the costume design for Huntress in particular looked out of place. Overall, we found "Birds of Prey" enjoyable with its unique style and vision. The story was a little less compelling but its great action and choreography made this a very fun experience.
Rating: 4 reels

Why you should watch it:
- the action and fights were superbly done
- great humor and script

Why you shouldn't watch it:
- the tone and pacing in the first half was a mess

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