Friday, September 26, 2014

Batman: Assault on Arkham review

    I confess, I never expected to see an R-rated DC comics cartoon in my lifetime. Now, I'm sure they don't rate Assault on Arkham "R" specifically but instead has a PG-13 one. Which is ridiculous because heads explode plus sex, violence, and swearing. There's a substantial number of bodies dropped during this movie. The movie contains cannibalism, decapitations, and someone getting their face impaled with a grappling hook.

    PG-13, my utility belt!

    Really, about the only reason I can assume this movie was rated PG-13 is because the characters are all animated so watching the severed head of someone rolling across the ground doesn't count. There's also not that much blood. Arguing about something as subjective as the ratings system, though, is pointless. I just want viewers to know this is the mature side of the DC Animated Universe first.

    Assault on Arkham is an hour-and-a-half-long movie based on the Batman: Arkham Asylum video game franchise. This is kind of misleading since the Arkham franchise isn't all that distinct from the mainstream DC Universe with rare exceptions. Aside from a few character designs, this could be any of the animated movies that takes place in their own "pocket universes." That isn't a complaint, however, as it's still a very well done version of these characters.

A great collection of villains.
    Interestingly, this movie isn't based on the adventure of Batman despite being set in the Batman: Arkham Asylum universe. No, instead, this is more a Suicide Squad movie. Which is curious since they didn't exist in the Arkham Asylum universe until fairly recently.

    What is the Suicide Squad?

    Well, my dear reader, it is a collection of DC comics supervillains assembled together by the government to go on missions too dangerous to send actual soldiers. Furthermore, if you refuse to cooperate, they detonate a bomb in your head. Both  are demonstrated repeatedly as our villain protagonists suffer casualties throughout the movie.

    This is a dark movie and because our protagonists are "evil" it doesn't spare a moment of remorse for any of them. I was actually offended a few times because a few of the characters killed were quite likable as well as ones I'd grown up with.

    Oh well, they're just dead in this continuity.

Harley is awesome, as always.
    The premise is, as stated, the government (represented by Amanda Waller) assembling a task force to eliminate the Riddler after he's acquired a great deal of information he shouldn't. The Riddler has been captured by Batman, however, and is imprisoned in Arkham Asylum.

    Rather than request a prison transfer through the legal system, Amanda Waller has decided to send a black ops team to break into the place to assassinate the Riddler. For once, Arkham Asylum isn't treated as the cardboard prison we know it is to be and is as guarded as a Super Max for the Super Insane should be.

    The characters assembled for this suicide mission are Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, Harley Quinn, Killer Frost, KGBeast, Black Spider, and King Shark. Quite a few of these characters will not be making it out of this mission alive but all of them get to demonstrate their personalities, skill sets, and abilities with the exception of one (who I won't spoil gets the ax early).

    The Joker ends up playing an unnecessary role in the story but, really, given it's his home turf and his role in Harley Quinn's life--I shouldn't be surprised he makes an appearance.

Again, Harley is awesome. There's other people but she's my favorite.
    The standout performances are Neal McDonough's Deadshot, Hynden Walch's Harley Quinn, (of course) Kevin Conroy's Batman, and Jennifer Hale's Killer Frost. Jennifer Hale actually doesn't get that much to do but I find her voice hits all the sweet spots and have since Knights of the Old Republic.

    I like Deadshot's characterization the most here because he's treated as the only sane man in a gang of lunatics as well as an eeriely calm professional. Harley Quinn is a hoot as always with Hynden Walch stepping into Tara Strong's big shoes quite well.

    While nothing exceptional, Troy Baker does an uncanny impersonation of Mark Hamill's Joker. If I questioned any characterization, it would be Amanda Waller's as she's portrayed as quite a bit more evil in this film than normal.

    In conclusion, I heartily recommend adult DC comics fans check this one out. It's brutal, dark, sexy, and hilarious even if it's nothing exceptional in terms of plot. I wouldn't let the kiddies see it, though.


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