“Dedicated fans will definitely find it rewarding and those who are less familiar with the mythos will broaden their knowledge significantly.”
Batman: Assault on Arkham Review
By Matt Allen
Cast: Kevin Conroy, Neal McDonough, Hynden Walch, Matthew Gray Gubler, Troy Baker
Director(s): Jay Oliva, Ethan Spalding
Screenwriter(s): Heath Corson
Running Time: 75 minutes
It’s no secret that DC and Warner Brothers Pictures have some catching up to do with their rivals Marvel Studios when it comes to live action releases. The Marvel Machine is deep into its second phase of operations while DC – despite having recently released a battle plan spanning all the way up to 2020 – have only released one film so far as part of their own offensive. But there is one market that DC has always indisputably dominated and that is animated features. In a smart move to capitalise on the success of the Arkham Asylum games, DC have gone off-canon to bring usBatman: Assault on Arkham.
A black-ops team made up of rogues gallery b-listers is forced to infiltrate Gotham’s most notorious nuthouse in search of the key to stopping a dirty-bomb from being detonated.
The DC films (animated or not) are often criticised of relying too heavily on their two flagship heroes, Batman and Superman. While there has been some recent attempts to bring other characters to the main stage with films like Flashpoint – which still kept Bats and Supes close to the spotlight – and the current DCU expansion seen at the TV level, this criticism is fairly well made.
But, while Assault on Arkham is billed as a Batman film (and of course the Dark Knight (Conroy) has a large part to play) the story itself mainly focuses around The Suicide Squad – a team of villains that, for whatever reason, have been appropriated by the US government to conduct off-the-books assignments in exchange for a reduce sentencing.
Leading the team is Floyd Lawton AKA Deadshot (McDonough). One of the better known rogues of the group, Flint is only interested in getting the job done and getting back to his daughter, made clear by the fact that he gazes at her picture at every opportunity. His only distraction is the Joker’s ex-punching bag Harley Quinn (Walch). DC seem to have aimed this one at a slightly more mature audience than usual but this is only evident in an awkward sex scene between the two which feels entirely out of place.
The rest of the squad is made up of relative unkowns, most of whom barely make it past the opening sequence. Essentially made up of characters that are unlikely to see the light of day in any other iteration, we get the pleasure of meeting the likes of Captain Boomerang (guess what his weapon of choice is), King Shark (basically Killer Croc but, ya know, he’s a shark), KGBeast (???) and the list goes on.
While there is still enough Batman to keep any fans sated, Assault on Arkham offers us a chance to glimpse the vast array of Batman foes with countless cameos and Easter-eggs. Dedicated fans will definitely find it rewarding and those who are less familiar with the mythos will broaden their knowledge significantly.
The animation itself is in keeping with the standard of the modern era DC features. Character design is based entirely on the Arkham video-game series so no surprises there – although Batman’s shoulders are impossibly large for some reason but this is a small price to pay if it means the loss of the annoying chinstrap which has made an appearance in recent films. As ever the fight choreography is engaging and it is good to see Batman’ acrobatic abilities which are often underplayed in the live action outings.
Assault on Arkham plays with the confidence of a studio that have been doing this for years – and doing it well. While the focus strays a little too far from the Caped Crusader himself, it is a welcome deviation from the traditional set-up.