Batman: Assault on Arkham isn’t a bad entry into the DC Universe Animated line but the title is misleading with the title character has been relegated to supporting role status as the bulk of the story is centered on the members of the Suicide Squad as well as some on The Joker, though that’s hardly a bad thing.
Batman: Assault on Arkham
Genre(s): Animation, Action, Adventure
Warner Bros. | PG13 – 76 min. – $24.98 | August 12, 2014
THE MOVIE – 3.25/5
Batman: Assault on Arkham is based, at least loosely, on the hit video game series and in this movie Batman (voiced by fan favorite KEVIN CONROY) is more or less a secondary character. And even though this is a weaker entry into the DCUA line of movies, it’s still entertaining and makes the most use out of its PG-13 rating. This animated flick is not for the kids…
Amanda Waller (CCH POUNDER reprising her roles in “Justice League: Animated Series” and the “Arkham Asylum” video game) dispatches the Suicide Squad comprised of: Louise Lincoln aka Killer Frost (JENNIFER HALE), Nanaue aka King Shark (JOHN DIMAGGIO), Eric Needham aka Black Spider (GIANCARLO ESPOSITO), George Harkness aka Captain Boomerang (GREG ELLIS), Harleen Quinzel aka Harley Quinn (HYNDEN WALCH) and lastly Floyd Lawton aka Deadshot (NEAL MCDONOUGH). In order to keep them under control, Waller has each one implanted with a nano explosive on the back of their neck. With little choice but to join, or be killed as one KGBeast discovered, they accept the mission to, with stealth, get into Arkham Asylum and retrieve a flash drive hidden inside The Riddler’s (MATTHEW GRAY GUBLER) cane.
With the assistance of Oswald Cobblepot/The Penguin (NOLAN NORTH), who has the necessary weaponry and costumes (like Deadshot’s eye-scope), this Suicide Squad manage to break in to Arkham vie way of Trojan horse by Harley Quinn getting arrested and the others manage to also infiltrate using creative methods. Once inside, as Deadshot, dressed as a cop, escorts Harley Quinn through the cellblock, she encounters her love, now scorned, in The Joker (TROY BAKER) which, of course complicate matters.
In any case, the crew must make their way through Arkham, avoid all contact and detection as possible but of course Batman spoils their plans and we get fight scenes that, despite their oft on-target shooting (as demonstrated in an earlier scene between Boomerang and Deadshot), are unable to take Batman down. We get some misdirection with the plot and a couple twists regarding Amanda Waller’s true intentions as well as The Joker having planted some kind of explosive devise somewhere in Gotham which also divides Batman’s time.
Where does Batman: Assault on Arkham measure up against the others in the DC Universe Animated Movie line? Well, as I said before, it’s not in the upper tier, that’s for sure and having “Batman” in the name is a bit misleading, although calling it Suicide Squad wouldn’t help sell the movie, which is why recent DCUA movies, and those in the future, will have “Batman”, “Superman” or “Justice League” in the title with other characters like Wonder Woman, Green Lantern (although he did get a couple animated movies) or any other DC Comics character their own movie.
So, although Assault on Arkham is probably in the bottom of the tier, and it’s nowhere near as bad as Superman: Doomsday or Superman vs. All-Star Superman (though that one has its fans), but it also doesn’t come close to the likes of Batman: Under the Red Hood, Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox.
The voice casting, while missing name recognition compared with the others, is still pretty damn good. You’ve got fan favorite Kevin Conroy reprising his role as Batman (and it’s a welcomed departure from Jason O’Mara who has been chosen to carry on the shared universe that started with Justice League: War and continued in Son of Batman and the upcoming Justice League: Throne of Atlantis is the third); Neal McDonough is great voicing Deadshot; Hynden Walch, a veteran voice actress is fantastic as the psychotic yet oh so sexy Harley Quinn (she voiced in three previous DCUA films and voiced Quinn in a couple episodes of “The Batman”); Matthew Gray Gubler (“Criminal Minds”) does well in his small part as The Riddler; and finally Troy Baker is probably the biggest surprise that, and please don’t hit me, rivals Mark Hamill as The Joker.
Outside of the voice casting, which is mostly wonderful, Batman: Assault on Arkham has its moments but compared with the rest, is mostly unremarkable. Yeah, the animation actually isn’t bad save for giving Batman two faded pupils for his eyes which really looked weird. If you are a fan of the DCUA film line, and considering the low MSRP, this might be worth adding to your collection, otherwise you can go ahead and skip this entry.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.5/5
This release comes with a matted slip cover. Inside the case is the standard DVD Copy and a code for the Digital Copy.
Commentary features Mike Carlin (Creative Director of Animation), Heath Corson (Writer) and James Tucker (Executive Producer). It’s a decent enough commentary, straight to the point track where each give their own perspective on the story.
A Sneak Peek at Justice League: Throne of Atlantis (9:10; HD) gives a glimpse at the next DCUA movie featuring the voice talents of Matt Lanter (Aquaman), Sam Witwer (Orm), Sirena Irwin (Queen Atlanna), Jerry O’Connell (Superman), Christopher Gorham (Flash), Jason O’Mara (Batman), Sean Astin (Shazam), Nathan Fillion (Green Lantern), Rosario Dawson (Wonder Woman) and Sean Patrick Thomas (Cyborg).
The Joker’s Queen: Harley Quinn (13:50; HD) is a profile on the hottest bad girl in comics and features interviews with people within DC Comics about her origins and her revamping for the New 52 and within Assault on Arkham.
Arkham Analyzed: The Secrets Behind the Asylum (27:16; HD) gives a look at the iconic crazy bin housing all of Gotham’s greatest super-villains.
Under From the DC Comics Vault are two episodes, one from “Justice League Unlimited” and the other from “Young Justice”.
VIDEO – 4.0/5
The 1080p high-definition transfer for Assault on Arkham is more or less similar to other DCUA films where colors are bright, darker scenes are nice and stark but it also has banding issues and some aliasing, though nothing heavy. Also, and this is about the animation style than the transfer, but some of the distant shots don’t look the best and being in HD, you get a clearer look at the shortcuts animators took.
AUDIO – 4.5/5
The disc includes a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track which actually is one of the better sounding animated movies from the DCUA where dialogue is, as expected, crisp and clear but it’s the action sequences show a fair amount of depth from explosions which envelope every channel as does gunfire, punches, etc.
OVERALL – 3.5/5
Overall, Batman: Assault on Arkham isn’t a bad entry into the DC Universe Animated line but the title is misleading with the title character has been relegated to supporting role status as the bulk of the story is centered on the members of the Suicide Squad as well as some on The Joker, though that’s hardly a bad thing. It does have a few things going for it from the character designs and voice casting (highlighted by Conroy and Baker), so it’s not a complete waste, just falls short of the high standards these animated movies have had.
The Blu-ray released by Warner does have a fair amount of features and the video and audio transfers are both well done.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.