Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) ★★★

A DC Comics movie that could've been as bad as the rest of them, it actually feels like a miracle that Birds of Prey exists in the state that it does considering how easily this film could've just been another femme fatale flick made under heavy male gaze.

Part of that is because director Cathy Yen injects a lively energy to the whole array by breaking it up narratively, weaving various plot threads between each other in the first half before tying it all together in the second as characters move through an incredibly-lively and lived-in urban playground that feels brimming with personalities for Harley to stumble upon and inevitably beat-up or team-up.

"If you want boys to respect you, show them you're serious. Shoot something, blow it up!"

And that might be because that's what Yen's last project was too, a farcical criticism of rapid-onset capitalism set in a modernized Shanghai. Dead Pigs is not yet widely available in English, but the ties to this movie are easy to spot and it almost feels like a prototype for what Birds of Prey would be.

I'm honestly excited for what Yen does next as by now she's established herself as an incredibly-capable director who specializes in vibrant city-scapes, fun characters, and an always-welcome dose of neon lighting. It's a shame that Birds of Prey may not have done as well as it deserves because it's possibly the most interesting film of its type to come out in years.

Also that sandwich!!! It made me so hungry I wanted to leave and get me a greasy breakfast sandwich at the nearest Coney Island right then and there. She did nothing wrong, girl just wanted to eat!

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