When it comes to animated full length features DC Comics always comes out on top. With movies like Justice League: Doom, Batman: Year One, Superman vs. Elite and Son of Batman they bring adversity and creativity to characters previously seen as one dimensional. The beauty of their most recent endeavor Batman: Assault on Arkham, is that they focus on the villains of DC rather than Batman himself.
It begins with a typical stand off between The Riddler and Amanda Waller, a high ranking US Government official who controls, or so she thinks, The Suicide Squad. Though throughout DC history The Suicide Squad has taken many shapes and forms, this movie sticks to The New 52 variant. Directors Jay Oliva and Ethan Spaulding choose to introduce the members of ‘task force X’ with a highly stylized short and sweet action clip that mirrors scenic montagues in classic heist films. Each character gets a quick clip which seamlessly debuts their individual strength and personality, so audience members who may not be familiar with characters like King Shark have all the information they need to jump right into the action.
The team is dispatched to break into Arkham Asylum to retrieve a thumbdrive stolen by The Riddler containing past, present and future Suicide Squad members. After Round 1: Harley vs Batman the team discovers that the Joker, voiced exceptionally by the Troy Baker, has hidden a dirty bomb at Arkham Asylum. Immediately the stakes are raised and the plot takes off from there. Between a masterfully conceived, and flawlessly executed break into Arkham through action packed all out brawls, shots of several Batman Villain favorites, including Bane and Poison Ivy, and the countdown to detonation DC has succeeded in creating a nail biting edge of your seat film.
While the promotion for this film pushes that it is based on characters the the Arkham Games is a gross overstatement. Batman: Assault on Arkham could be an issue of Suicide Squad. While some DC villains, like the Joker, are malevolent, ruthless and unyielding, DC has several villains that fans sympathize with and they showcase their vulnerability throughout the movie. Deadshot, or Floyd Lawton, in continually shown holding/looking at a picture of his daughter, touching the heart of fathers everywhere. King Shark even shows a softer side by trusting and helping Killer Frost who is turn supports him. The Suicide Squad would not be complete however without Harley Quinn. Originally created by Bruce Timm and Paul Dini for a single episode of the Batman Animated Series, Harley has acquired a mob of die hard fans. The Harley Olivia and Spaulding chose for this particular adventure is an interesting collision of the fun loving, misguided, and naive Harley, with the lethal, psychotic, and overtly sexy Harley. It’s the perfect combination! She goes toe to toe with Batman twice in the film and does a damn good job holding her own! She is also stuck between her two loves The Joker and Deadshot which was an interesting choice made in recent New 52 comics.
The style and tone of the movie compliments that of Son of Batman effortlessly. DC is no stranger the grotesque and gruesome. The animators were not afraid to add splashes of blood throughout the movie along side of gruesome fight sequences. This includes the explosion of some characters head from their spine. So when Deadshot continues to rumble with the Joker with shards of glass sticking out of his body it’s a perfectly monstrous way to end this spellbinding feature. Also they are not afraid to cut off younger audiences by adding an apparent, and brief sex scene between Harley and Deadshot and well as a lot of bare back shots for both Harley and Killer Frost.
Batman: Assault on Arkham is a thrilling and gripping mission from start to finish. It is filled with bawdy strong women fighting alongside volatile intuitive villains in a Heist that will go down in the history books. It is available now on Blu Ray/DVD as well as digital download.
Final Score: 4.5/5