Hey gang, Valkor here. I'm a huge fan of the Arkham games, with Asylum and City tapped and Origins waiting in the wings, I have to say I am super excited for the next incarnation – Arkham Knight. But first I gotta finish Origins. And to go alongside of my venture, the folks at Warner Home and DC Entertainment are putting out just the right fix to hold me over until the next game release, with the latest film in the animated DC Universe – Batman: Assault on Arkham, which brings the Batman Arkham video game world to celluloid life.
In Assault on Arkham, government official Amanda Waller (CCH Pounder), puts together the Suicide Squad (whether they want to or not), in order to break inside Arkham Asylum to retrieve a flashdrive stolen by Edward Nigma aka The Riddler, which is hidden in the ball of his cane. The team is made up of Deadshot (Neal McDonough), Killer Frost (Jennifer Hale), King Shark (John DiMaggio), Black Spider (Giancarlo Esposito), Harley Quinn (Hynden Walch) and Captain Boomerang (Greg Ellis). KGBeast also makes an appearance, but this mission might have been a little… over his head? *boom* Hmmm… Anywho, This drive contains important details related to the Suicide Squad and its members, so it’s imperative to Waller that it’s retrieved. Worried that they’ll get caught by Bats mid mission, Waller informs them that he’ll be busy on job of his own. Which is true as Batman is seeking out a dirty bomb planted somewhere in Gotham by the Joker.
The Squad breaking into Arkham is meticulous and very Ocean Eleven-esque (including the music); but once inside it becomes clear that the squad wants more about separating from Waller than actually finding her item, which they eventually find… the cane that is, but no drive. By this time Batman has already figured out what’s really going on. In doing so, Bats has to not only deal with the Joker and the Suicide Squad running amok in Arkham, but he must also locate Joker’s bomb before time runs out.
Batman: Assault on Arkham doesn’t take place within the new DC 52 film continuity – it’s more like a standalone, definitely a companion with the Arkham games. And much about the games have been lifted into this film including the look of characters such as Batman, Joker, Poison Ivy and more, plus you’ll spot familiar locales from Arkham Asylum as well. Finally, it’s nice to see Kevin Conroy back in action as the voice of Bats (he also returns for Arkham Knight) but unfortunately Mark Hamill has retired from his Joker role. But he's given a suitable replacement. Finally this latest film is really pushing the maturity envelope, but then so have much of the past DCU films. However, now we’re getting close to nudity; none is shown, but it gets mighty damn close… not that there’s anything wrong with that. But if you’re gonna go R, then go all the way, DC.
I’m always excited when a new DCU film is announced; even more so when it’s a Batman film. And Batman: Assault on Arkham is just the fix I needed and should be a nice hold-me-over until the next animated treat... or when Arkham Knight releases. Honestly, this doesn’t rank as a high favorite, especially after coming from JL: War, but the story fits in well with the game series and even replicates some of instances; watching Batman tackle a room full of thugs, seeing the Squad make their way from one point in Arkham to another and even when the Squad pass by Joker’s cell, all feels very familiar. The film tosses in some edginess upping the spoken swears and adding some sexiness to it (Deadshot and Harley Quinn? Yahtzee!!). And while it might not be suitable for the much younger set, in any case I approve. The animation reminds me of the 6th short from Gotham Knight and it works to capture the look and feel of the game. The music is hit and miss, though I enjoyed the Ocean Eleven-esque beat when the Squad was breaking into Arkham, but that Techno track was "meh". The voice acting is also a hit and miss; Conroy shines so there’s really no argument there. I thought Troy Baker made a suitable replacement for Hamill and at times he even sounds like him. Same thing can be said for Hynden Walch; she comes pretty close to nailing Arleen Sorkin’s take. So I’m cool with Batman: Assault on Arkham; it’s not as epic as some of the previous films, but it works an action-packed, no holds barred cinematic delight.
When you see the reason why Waller had the Suicide Squad break into Arkham for The Riddler’s cane, you’ll find everything that was done prior to be… pointless. I also didn’t care for the voice of Deadshot. I didn’t hate it; I just thought it was too damn smooth. Or maybe I’ve been watching too much of the Arrow version?
Poor KGBeast and King Shark for that matter…
You’ll find Batman: Assault on Arkham in most retail and digital outlets on August 12; and if you’re a fan of the game series, you’ll be in for a treat. It’s definitely not one of the best, but certainly not the worst, with loads of amazing battle sequences and a solid story. So out of TOV 5 stars, Batman: Assault on Arkham gets a 3.5. Arkham Knight… bring it!