HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Batman: Assault on Arkham
HTS Overall Score:79
Sometimes you just got to root for the bad guys. “Assault on Arkham” takes its name and its story based off the famed “Arkham Asylum” video games, and takes a bit of a break from the Batman/Justice League stories we’ve seen with Warner’s last few outings into the DC universe. I should forewarn, that this is less of a Batman movie than one might assume with the title. Batman certainly does play a prominent role, but it’s much more of a back seat role to the “Suicide Squad”. The animation style and deviation from the standard fare Batman universe had me a bit leery, and some fans were reporting back that it was a disappointment. I went in with no expectations whatsoever and was very entertained. The first and second acts were good to excellent and it wasn’t till the payoff that you saw some of it falling apart a bit.
While Batman (Kevin Conroy) is off roaming the streets searching for a dirty bomb left behind by the incarcerated Joker (Troy Baker), a government agent named Amanda Waller (CCH Pounder) is off snatching up incarcerated villains left and right. Using these villains who have no hope, Waller gives them a tracking device and an implanted bomb in their bodies and assigns them the name “Suicide squad”. Basically they’re a group of villains cajoled and tempted with less prison time to go out and do the impossible missions that are almost certain death wishes. This time around the suicide squad is comprised of Captain Boomerang (Greg Ellis), Harley Quinn (Hynden Watch), Deadshot (Neal McDonough), King Shark (John DiMaggio), Black Spider (Giancarlo Esposito) and Killer Frost (Jennifer Hale). These six are tasked with getting into Arkham Asylum and getting confidential information from the newly incarcerated Riddler (Matt Grey Gubler) and get out with as little bloodshed as possible. With the types of villains in this crew we’re pretty sure from the get go that getting out without spilling blood isn’t going to work very well.
Getting into Arkham Asylum is no big deal for our cadre of bad guys, it just so happens that the hardest part is getting out alive without them killing the others or falling prey to the loonies inside. Harley has to brave seeing the Joker once more and it seems that Amanda Waller has a hidden agenda, as one of their team goes missing and the information they were sent to retrieve isn’t. Now the rag tag group of “friends” have to get out and figure out a way that doesn’t involve Amanda Waller blowing their heads off with the implants mentioned earlier. To make matters worse, Batman figures out that something’s wrong in Arkham Asylum and has deviated from his bomb sniffing only to find out that his mission and the mission of the Suicide Squad are more connected than he thought.
I actually really enjoyed this walk down the B-side character list, very similar to how the “Guardians of the Galaxy” was a set of B-list comics before Dunn and Marvel revitalized them. I never once thought that I’d see Captain Boomerang or Killer Frost grace us on the big screen and it was almost everything I could be hoping for. The film has a drastic change in tone from many of the others and is much darker than I expected. The villains working together are almost anti-heroes and almost pure villains, grudgingly paired together by chance, instead of choice, but still carrying out a government assignment. As such there’s much less “hero” stuff going on and instead we get a full on battle as ethics and high morality is thrown out the window. We have Batman, of course, but everything you see tends to come from the eyes and points of view of the “Suicide Squad”.
The characters blended together well, and the body count made it much different than many other comics where none of the “heroes” ever has anything TOO bad happen to them. The inclusion of Kevin Conroy as Batman is spot on perfect, and makes me wish that he could voice ALL of the animated Batman films. The little nerd in me was jumping up and down with excitement the minute I saw his name in the credits. Troy Baker does a solid job as the Joker, but too many years of having Mark Hammill putting his incredible vocal talents to work has kind of spoiled me. The rest did a solid job, but since no one has ever seen or heard the Suicide Squad (besides Harley Quinn) on the big screen, there’s no real baseline. The story itself was surprisingly good, with a good first act and an incredible second act. My only real complaint has to do with the third act, where the “reveal” happens. The reveal itself was only so-so and that kind of robbed the third act from having as much punch as the other two had. Still it was a fun outing, and those who like a good animated action movie should do well to check it out.
Rated PG-13 for violence, sexual content and language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=24273[/img]“Batman: Assault on Arkham” has a generally pleasing 1.78:1 AVC transfer, with just a few flaws that draw it down. Detail is quite good, and you can see all of the animation lines clearly with no jaggies or DNR to smudge things up. While there is good detail I did notice that there was some softness to the picture, no a wild amount, but it kept the image from looking as sharp as it could have been. Colors come through nicely, even though the majority of the picture is shrouded in black and greys of Arkham most of the time. Although, the blues on Frost’s suite and the greens of Poison ivy and the like show through just beautifully and stand out against the grey and shadowy asylum. Black levels are usually good, but they tend to bring out the bane of WB animated films, banding. The majority of the film suffers from significant banding, and this is where the biggest drawback of the picture lies, as you can’t go from one scene to the next without showing a little bit of banding and during the darkest scenes it really comes out to play.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=24281[/img]Now the 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio track is the highlight of the entire package. Rich, powerful and aggressive, it fits the gloomy and foreboding atmosphere for of the movie quite well, adding a bit of bite to the Tiger’s growl. Dialogue is spot on, never too loud, never too soft and locked right in the center channel. Surrounds are out in full force and show a surprising level of accuracy, as you can hear little things, like the rain splashing on the ground or Batman’s batarang clanging off a side wall. I really can’t complain about the dynamics as the immersion level is off the charts, and the LFE punches you straight in the gut. Deep and guttural the .1 channel strikes hard and fast, giving the movie lots of vibration heavy scenes. Overall I’m very impressed with the audio and have to say that it’s the best part of the Blu-ray. Bravo WB, bravo.
• Arkham Analyzed: The Secrets Behind the Asylum
• "Batman: Assault on Arkham" Commentary
• The Joke's Queen - Harley Quinn
• Sneak Peak at "Justice League: Throne of Atlantis"
• 4 Bonus Cartoons from the Vault
Since it’s based off the “Arkham Asylum” games, “Batman: Assault on Arkham” takes less cues from the previous DC animated films as of late, and creates and ambiance and style all its own. It has a great first and second act, only to stumble a bit in the third, but that shouldn’t dissuade you from checking it out, especially if you’re a fan of the rest of the DC animated films. It’s got decent video, and some stellar audio so I have to give it a recommendation for comics fans.
Starring: Kevin Conroy, Neal McDonough, Hynden Walch
Directed by: Jay Oliva, Ethan Spaulding
Written by: Heath Corson, Bob Kane
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: ENGLISH: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French DD 5.1, Spanish DD 2.0
Studio: Warner Brothers
Blu-ray Release Date: August 12th, 2014
Buy Batman: Assault on Arkham Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Watch It
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