This is a tribute to Birds of Prey. Harley Quinn didn’t look great in this movie as she was defeated several times and needed help quite often. Her hand to hand skills won’t really be doing much against the Flash. Wally’s just too fast and can end things in a moment. It’s why speedsters don’t tend to lose very often when you think about it, it’s one of the best powers to have. Flash wins.
This review is of the edited TV-14 version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative
DC may have made some of the movies starring superheroes of all time like Man of Steel and Batman vs Superman but it’s certainly made some of the worst movies starring villains with Joker and Suicide Squad. While this one is better than Joker, it’s still at a really low level and feels like it is picking up where Suicide Squad left off in a lot of the worst ways. The more we get films like this, the more I’m convinced it is definitely best to stick to films based around the heroes. Not every film can pull off a Venom where you get the lead to be a rather fun anti-hero. The first step is probably to remove Harley Quinn from the starring role though. You also have to get the memo that any film with a villain as the main characters needs to make that character effectively turn good or be an anti-hero. You can’t have the villain…stay a villain.
The movie starts with Joker dumping Harley Quinn so she’s quite upset. She gets drunk and into trouble a whole lot but this catches up to her once she tells the world that Joker no longer protects her. She barely lasts a day before she is captured and Black Mask orders her to find a jewel that Cassandra Cain stole. If she doesn’t produce this jewel then she will be destroyed. Meanwhile Renee Montoya of the cops needs to find this jewel as well. She wants to make Gotham a better place but it’s been a tough road. Meanwhile Black Mask orders Black Canary to get the jewel as well and Huntress is making an appearance here as well.
So everyone wants the jewel that’s for sure. Don’t get hyped about Cassandra Cain though. Like just about everyone else in the film, she is the character in name only. This has to be one of the biggest ruined portrayals of a character. Forget Taskmaster, Lex Luthor, and the other big names. Cain has to take the cake here. Gone is the history of her being a lethal fighter trained from childhood who would go on to be one of the strongest hand to hand fighters in the DC verse. This version of Cain is a petty thief who isn’t very smart in choosing her targets. She is even caught by the cops almost immediately which speaks to her “skill” at being a thief. I did not like Cain here. I doubt I’d have liked her much even if she had a random name since she’s an annoying kid who gets everyone into trouble but this did not help matters.
Zsasz and Black Mask are your classic gritty villains here. Black Mask has a thing where he likes to cut off people’s faces. I don’t know if this is something he does in the comics as well but it’s certainly just here to remind you that he’s evil evil. The guy is incredibly unbalanced as he throws fits and cries and everything. You’re certainly not meant to find this guy all that interesting and his death scene is certainly something. Even the mask isn’t imposing because you already can’t take this guy seriously.
Zsasz is awful but I’ve never seen him in a continuity where he was good anyway so that’s to be expected. As always he’s a lunatic who just likes making scars and being a villain. He seems like a creep in all of his scenes and definitely someone you are hoping will get bumped off early so he won’t get much more screen time. With these two as the only big villains…that wasn’t setting things off on a good note.
The color scheme could have tipped you off to that right from the jump though. Everything is all gray scaled and grim throughout the movie. I saw a western film right after this one and the first scene has more color in it than this whole adventure. The gray scale can certainly work as with Man of Steel or Batman V Superman where you had a lot of compelling dialogue and great fights to balance it out. This film has none of that though so it just serves to continue to show Gotham as a super hopeless place that you should want to leave immediately.
As for the “Heroes” here, well firs toff is Harley Quinn who is decisively not a hero. She beats up people for no real reason like the guy at the club and abuses her power. She is quick to betray Cain when it benefits her and is really someone that you can’t trust at all. She talks tough but loses quite a lot of fights. If not for Black Canary saving her at the start she would have been in a lot of trouble. The problem is that Harley Quinn is not likable or entertaining. She’s just extremely annoying in all of her scenes and ends up being a liability most of the time. You absolutely do not want her in your corner if you’re going to be facing off against a tough opponent as she’ll fail more often than not.
The film will try to have you take her seriously again later on by having her beat a bunch of random thugs but she loses too many times in this film for that to actually work. Then you have Renee who is drunk half the time. That’s not doing her any favors and you don’t see how she will be much of an asset here. She isn’t a professional fighter or anything and the drinking will definitely hold her back. Of course like everyone else she is beating tons of experienced thugs at the end but you don’t see her career lasting long unless she gets some kind of big weapon.
Huntress should have easily been the best character here but she is used as borderline comic relief half the time. Nobody takes her name seriously and they interrupt her big speeches. She does get to use her crossbow to murder a lot of people of course but always blows up with her random anger issues that the other characters poke fun at. It’s a shame since she was so good in Justice League but she is severely lacking in this film. She doesn’t even get the classic costume or anything until the literal end of the film. She’s another character that might as well not be Huntress.
The worst part about all of these adaptions is that you’re likely stuck with them for the foreseeable future. Of course a good writer can improve these characters but otherwise you’re stuck. They really need to try and put some distance with the characters from Birds of Prey and Suicide Squad. Go for a soft reboot or something and then you can try to turn this around. I can’t say I have much hopes for any sequel or spinoff of this film though. It’s hard to picture it being a winner.
For Black Canary, well the film does remember that she has sonic abilities at the end. She is so incredibly nerfed though that a single hit is enough for her to faint. So I guess we can’t expect her to be going up against any tough fighters by the end of this. She does have a decent hand to hand fight against some of the random thugs though so at least there’s that.
This film could have really used an appearance by Batman at some point. Sure he would have stolen the show but it’d be worth it. This whole thing takes place in Gotham and Harley Quinn blew up a giant chemical plant. Surely Batman should be on the case right? Even just some references of Batman taking down minions would be nice since Black Mask is so openly sending his crooks around to bump people off and kidnap the characters off the street. I know this is Gotham but a lot of nights pass by without any sightings of the Batman. They can’t be everywhere but in this case it’s literally Gotham city, he should be popping up somewhere.
I would say Gotham itself is a big problem for the film. A lot of times films like to show how depraved Gotham is and that’s where they tend to fail. For example, of course we have a scene where the villain orders a girl to strip and dance. That’s completely unnecessary and we also have Harley Quinn shown to be someone who frequents these kinds of establishments as a villain. The movie has a lot of fanservice throughout and sketchy costumes.
Birds of Prey is unrelentingly depressing most of the time. This is a harsh city where the heroes lost years ago and villains rule all over the place. It’s not to the extreme of Joker but you will have a hard time finding any really happy/fun scenes. Harley and Cain have some bonding moments but mostly that’s just Harley being a terrible role model the whole time. Someone who will act nice and talk a good game but lose in one hit or just sell you out in the next scene. It was fun to see the owner of the restaurant accept the money and leave though. In this city that seems to be the quickest way out of here.
The writing’s not particularly good and the song choices are really bad. The final song’s probably the worst one by far and had to be aired out at several moments. Yeah this film was really going for grit. The action scenes could have been worse in that respect as it didn’t try going over the top most of the time. We did have some real choreography and fight scenes which is good. The film wasn’t trying to be gritty all of the time. Usually in the moments it wasn’t, it was the characters just being annoying all the time though.
Overall, Birds of Prey is a pretty bad film. At least I’m glad they ended up ditching the long sub title later on since nobody ever used the whole title anyway. I know that point’s been beaten to death but it’s not even all that accurate with Joker having dumped Harley Quinn as opposed to it being the other way around. You can of course say that the process helped her but when you consider the fact that she would probably run right back to him if he would have her….it doesn’t help her case. Regardless, the biggest issue here is that this is a film about the villains…that forgets to make the villains likable. Harley Quinn and her constant narration does not make for a good lead. The Birds of Prey group aren’t likable yet either. Black Canary is decent and Huntress has potential but for the moment give me a random lead from any big DC character and I would probably take him or her instead. The Birds of Prey will have to work hard to improve their characters in the next film but without Harley Quinn holding them back at least they have a chance.
Suggested by Sonic Harley Quinn is definitely a character who has been getting a lot of screen time recently. She’s an excellent hand to hand fighter and even got superhuman abilities for a while. That said, Hawkgirl easily wins this round. She became a Black Lantern at one point which gave her a whole slew of great abilities and additionally she already had super strength and some slight healing regeneration. In a straight fight I don’t see any way Harley Quinn can even try to turn the tides of battle. Hawkgirl wins.
Suggested by Anonymous Harley Quinn is an impressive hand to hand fighter. Over the years she has honed her skills quite a lot to the point where she can even give a foe like Nightwing a run for his money. That won’t be enough to stop Kiva though. Kiva is quite fast and skilled as well. Additionally he has quite a few special abilities including elemental attacks which will tip the scales of battle his way. Quinn just needs more power ups to catch him. Kiva wins.
It’s time to look at a fairly recent DC film. The DCAU was one of the best things to ever happen to comics in general so it’s good to see it make a comeback with this film. Unfortunately its comeback is on a rather low note here as the film makes too many mistakes but if this leads to a new Justice League installment or maybe even a Superman film then I’ll be up for it. It definitely got a good retro vibe going for it.
The film starts off with Poison Ivy and the Floronic Man deciding to form an alliance and turn the world into plants. Batman and Nightwing figure that they won’t be able stop this threat on their own so they enlist the help of Harley Quinn. She agrees to help but is determined to make the heroes regret bringing her along. Will this team be able to keep it together long enough to save the world or do they just need to hope that the villains make a mistake somewhere along the line? The time is ticking!
One thing you’ll notice right away is that the film does a good job of recreating the classic sound effects from the DCAU. One thing that always stood out back then was how hard each blow sounded. Every movement had power behind it and it’s likely also due to the animation style. This film recreated it quite well and then throwing in the familiar voices made the experience even more authentic. On a technical level the film certainly didn’t disappoint. The hand to hand fights are also quite solid like Nightwing vs Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy vs Harley. Both fights were nice and long. It does bring up a mild question though of how Poison Ivy is so good at martial arts. I can understand Harley being really good, although I think she should not be able to do so well against Nightwing, but then how can Poison Ivy hold her own against such an opponent? It seems like everyone is apparently a martial arts master at this point.
Batman is a solid main character as always. While I think he was rather quick to throw in the towel by asking Harley to come along I guess time was of the essence here. The villains plan was actually pretty quick and well thought out for a change. It’s certainly a fairly unique threat. Batman is also upfront with the constant insults to the government so it’s nice to see that he is still feared by villains and heroes alike. I mean, the henchmen at the bar didn’t fear him, but they were quickly taught that lesson afterwards.
Lets talk about where the film went wrong now. For starters, it definitely is trying quite a bit to be edgier than the old days. Not in a cool well written way like Batman V Superman as that’s dark, but not edgy. Here we have Harley Quinn throwing in swear words just to remind us that she’s one of the villains from time to time. The script never gets too crazy, but each moment feels forced. Then we have random comments thrown in to show us that everyone is rather terrible in Gotham. The government agent guy is cheating for some reason and the normal citizens are all James Bond and Captain Kirk types.
The film also includes quite a bit of fanservice with Harley Quinn. As with Suicide Squad all it does it help defeat the point of trying to make her a strong character. The scene with her and Nightwing takes the cake of being the worst scene in the film though. It’s no surprise to see Harley Quinn back on the rebound, but Nightwing should have had the will power to stay true to the mission and refuse her. He looked terrible in that scene and this leads to a lot of painful lines later on as it keeps being brought up. On second thought, the writing was actually rather bad in this film. We even get crude humor thrown in.
So, Batman is the only good hero in this film. Nightwing was completely destroyed by this scene and just couldn’t make it back up the charts. There’s no way to take him seriously by this point. Then Harley Quinn is also beyond saving because her character is just no good. It’s great that she doesn’t want to be a villain anymore and she tries to earn sympathy points by showing how rough it is for an ex-con in Gotham, but she certainly doesn’t make it any easier on herself. She gets a happy ending at least so hopefully she doesn’t mess it up this time.
The villains are a lot more interesting and they’re better handled. The Floronic Man is the completely evil member of the duo and he can’t wait to destroy the humans. He’s a villain who has never gotten the spotlight before so it was cool to see him here. The guy seems like a reasonable villain. He may not be much of a threat, but can still put up a fairly good fight. Then we have Poison Ivy who was always good in the DCAU. She isn’t as insane as the average villain and ultimately at least has a good reason for being evil. I do think it was a bit iffy how Floronic Man was basically the leader of their partnership though since he is basically made out of plants. I think Ivy should be able to defeat him rather easily, but of course walking within punching distance wouldn’t be wise. These two villains are probably the 2nd and 3rd best characters in the film.
There isn’t much of a soundtrack, but we hear a really solid remix near the end of the film and overall it was rather fast paced. I wasn’t crazy about the lyrical songs though so I guess they roughly cancel out in the end. This film isn’t too long and the pacing is good so at least it doesn’t end up dragging on. I do have to question why the film plays up a certain death near the end like it’s a big deal though. It was a character that nobody cared about and it’s not as if he died in a particularly brutal way or anything. I guess the heroes are heroic enough to care though so I can’t fault them for that.
Overall, Batman and Harley Quinn wasn’t a good movie but I think anyone probably could have guessed that based on the title. Whenever there is a film based around Harley Quinn you know that it’s not going to work out very well. This film pretty much made every mistake that it could here. At least it wasn’t all that violent so it dodged that. Still, excessive fanservice and bad writing is enough to bring a film down. Also the quick case of animal violence as a mouse blows up. That scene is so incredibly unnecessary that you have to wonder what the film was thinking. I would recommend passing on this film as there are plenty of other, better DC films to watch instead.
Suggested by iKnowledge Joystick is a pretty good athletic fighter. She has a degree of super strength and speed that is on par with a Scarlet Spider. She is a formidable fighter and while Harley Quinn is skilled as well, her attack power is nothing special. Hand to hand combat might be Harley’s only edge, but I don’t think it can compensate for the gap in strength. Joystick also knows the basics of hand to hand as well. Joystick wins.
Suggested by IKnowledge Harley Quinn is a pretty good hand to hand fighter and she has used many different weapons over the years. That being said, she may not need most of them since hand to hand skills are very useful in a match like this. Ellie won’t be able to compete with Harley in this area and that will prevent her from doing much with her weapons. Surviving against zombies is very different than going up against super villains. Harley Quinn wins.
Suggested by Anonymous Cell has returned, but this round won’t go very differently from his match against the Joker. Harley Quinn has a lot of trick weapons and her hand to hand skills aren’t bad, but what does it all matter against an opponent who can destroy the entire planet with a wave of his hand? Cell’s speed is also vastly superior to Harley Quinn’s, so she shouldn’t really be able to land a hit. Cell wins.
Suggested by iKnowledge Anakin Solo makes his debut onto the blog with this win. He is certainly a tough fellow and his Force abilities should not be underestimated. He didn’t get to show off his abilities quite as much as other fighters like Dark Vader, but he has enough skills to take Harley down. She is good at hand to hand combat, but that isn’t of much use against a Lightsaber. Anything she can try to do, Anakin can do better. Anakin Solo wins.
As you all may be aware, I am definitely not a Suicide Squad fan. I’ve always thought that the whole franchise was fairly terrible and the new movie looks to be quite bad as well. Thus, I was not surprised to see that this comic was terrible as well. The cover is horrible and that makes for a bad first impression as well. This comic really couldn’t do anything right and if it wanted to get me hyped for the main series…it didn’t really work. The entirety of the comic is basically about the Suicide Squad being tortured and then they are sent on their first mission.
I suppose you are supposed to be impressed with these guys and how tough they are. They’re being beaten quite a bit, but they are still able to pull off one liners and hardcore sounding talk. They aren’t intimidated and give the interrogators a tough time as they all relive their origin stories. It was fun to see cameos from Black Canary and Batman, but it doesn’t really add a whole lot to the story. None of the origin stories are all that good either although they aren’t quite as gruesome as the main story so I’ll give it some props for that I suppose.
The art is a little busy, but it’s not all that bad I suppose. The comic just needs to work on making the colors more distinctive and sharp like the rest of the DC titles. This also doesn’t make Waller and the shady part of the government look any better. Not only are the Suicide Squad members being forced to take on their missions, but they’re also being beaten up as part of a test. You really can’t trust anyone in the DC universe.
The whole comic was very bad so let’s spend this last paragraph just discussing how it could be better. For starters, the violence needs to be toned down quite a bit. That can easily be done by having different camera angles, less blood, and simply using different situations. Instead of using these contraptions, the villains could have just been talking tough the whole time or maybe using a smoke bomb that will eventually start choking the heroes. The art needs to be more colorful and the Squad should also try to have at least one likable member as opposed to all of them being impossible to root for. Of course, it’ll be tough to do that without becoming a full blown comedy action or something like that, but a good writer can pull it off. It will lose part of its audience though so the writers will have to weigh the pros and cons here. Well, that wraps up the Marvel and DC adventures from FCBD so time to move on to the others.