Batman: Assault on Arkham Blu-ray Review (Mania.com)
By:Robert T. Trate
Review Date: Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Warner Brothers’ Batman: Assault on Arkham is the first original animated film based on the popular Batman Arkham Video Game Series. This particular story takes place between Batman: Arkham Origins and Batman: Arkham Asylum. Our story lands us with The Riddler (Matthew Gray Gubler) taking all the Suicide Squad’s personal files from Amanda Waller (CCH Pounder). Waller sends in a team of commandos to bring The Riddler in, but Batman (voiced by Kevin Conroy) stops them. He, in turn, places The Riddler in Arkham Asylum. Waller is not ready to give up on catching The Riddler that easily.
In what is easily a page from the 1996 movie, Mission Impossible, Waller assembles a new team for her Suicide Squad to break into Arkham and bring back her files. That team consists of the super criminals Deadshot (Neal McDonough), Captain Boomerang (Greg Ellis), Harley Quinn (Hyden Walch), King Shark (John DiMaggio), Killer Frost (Jennifer Hale), KGBeast (Nolan North)and the Black Spider (Giancarlo Esposito). There is an uneasiness to criminals working together and a trust that is practically non-existent. Deadshot promises to lead the team and shoot straight, if Waller does the same. However, it is Harley Quinn who Waller’s plan really depends on.
I have often heard many fans at Comic Con panels complain that the animated DC Universe is comprised of stories consisting only of Batman, Superman, and the Justice League. Rarely do we ever get story about, say, the Suicide Squad. Well that is what this is, a Suicide Squad movie. As much as I applaud the return of Kevin Conroy to the role of Batman, I have to believe that it is his casting here that will get many of the fanboys to turn out for another Batman film. Batman, if you can believe it, takes a back seat to this story. This is a bizarre “Mission Impossible” tale with criminals.
What was so incredibly refreshing was not only the tone of the film (it is not for kids), but that they let the criminals be just bad guys. There are no clean cut good guys or even an anti-hero who is misunderstood. In fact, this is one of the few rare occurrences where a DC Universe film has characters get killed. There are even sex scenes. Seriously, this is one is for the older fans.
I have never read a Suicide Squad comic, nor have I played any of the Batman Arkham Video Games. This made the scenario and the characters completely fresh to me. I was shocked to learn how much of the Batman Arkham game director Jay Oliva had incorporated into the film. He is man who loves the minute details and made sure that Batman had the same fighting skills as he did in the game. Further more, writer Heath Corson incorporated the love story of Harley Quinn and Deadshot from the comic into the film. This bit of tension played perfectly into a fight between the Joker and Deadshot. Whose side was Harley really on?
The film does have a sub-plot for Batman, which gives the character an added purpose for the story. Again, it is the Suicide Squad that you will be completely entertained by here. This film is a bit of a departure for Warner Brothers and this series of animated features. They do rely on the popularity of the Batman Arkham game to bring in fans, but it’s an original story placed in that Batman Universe. It was bold, daring, and a lot of fun.
Arkham Analyzed: The Secrets Behind the Asylum (27:16) – This is the documentary that traces the strange, demonic history of the location where horror is mixed with the extremities of the criminally insane. A place where Batman must keep his watchful gaze, to insure that what goes in does not come out .... ever.
The Joker's Queen: Harley Quinn (13:50) - If The Joker were to have a girlfriend, what would she be like? This featurette covers the story of the deviancy and often provocative side to The Joker’s greatest ally, Harley Quinn.
An advance look into the next DC animated feature, Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, with the creators and cast (9:10).
Four episodes from the DC Comics Vault.
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Mania Grade: B+
Starring: Kevin Conroy, Troy Baker, Matthew Gray Gubler, CCH Pounder, Greg Ellis and Giancarlo Esposito
Written By: Heath Corson
Directed By: Jay Oliva, Ethan Spaulding
Studio: Warner Brothers Home Entertainment
Original Year of Release: 2014
Run Time: 75 Minutes
Special Features: See Below