The stellar voice acting, crisp animation and story that centers around the criminals instead of the hero make this movie a compelling proposition to anyone who’s into the superhero genre.
Not only was the Batman: Arkham series a triumph for DC Comics and Warner Bros., but also to comic book-based video games. People tend to forget that prior to the release of Batman: Arkham Asylum, the sub-genre was plagued with mediocre titles, so the action adventure set a new standard and proved that a compelling game based on Batman was possible. Arkham Asylum was considered a masterpiece because of its graceful combat and attractive visual style, but also for its compelling characters and inviting setting, so with that in mind, DC brings and exciting proposition: an animated movie set in the same universe as that of the game franchise. Enter Batman: Assault on Arkham.
Here’s a synopsis: criminal kingpin Amanda Waller kidnaps the members of the Suicide Squad and forces them to work for her. The motley crew, which is led by Harley Quinn and Deadshot, is supposed to break into the infamous asylum and retrieve a flash drive with some sensitive data that the Joker has stolen.
In a way, this direct-to-video movie feels like a spinoff. Not because it’s inferior in quality to other Batman films, but because the protagonists are the criminals instead of Batman. This changes the dynamic of the story and while Batman is still an important part of the plot, it’s great to see these convicts front and center. Also, every major criminal from the Batman universe makes an appearance, even if it’s for a few seconds (that includes the Penguin, scarecrow, The Joker, Harley Quinn and KGBeast, among many others,) so fans will not be disappointed.
One of the most enchanting parts about the movie is seeing these convicts interacting with each other. They are, after all, selfish, egotistical, insane and incredibly dangerous to both themselves and to others. This results in some intense scenes hat are mature and leave a lasting impressions: characters die, they bleed and they are incredibly violent. In other words, a run-of the mill superhero movie this is not. So in an age where superheroes act in a PG-13 kind of way, seeing this mature story feels refreshing and genuine. There are sexual references, violent images, graphic deaths, swear words and more.
The animation looks great and is part of what makes the characters and the city of Gotham so lively. If you’ve watched a DC comics movie from the past few years, you probably know what to expect: everything looks terrific and a lot of attention went to the character design and Gotham’s architecture. One minor gripe I have with the animation though is that some scenes blend 2D with 3D which makes certain parts look artificial.
Assault on Arkham presents a mature take on some ideas that will be familiar to anyone who played any of the Arkham games. There’s nothing particularly unique about this animated film, but the stellar voice acting, crisp animation and story that centers around the criminals makes this movie a compelling proposition to anyone who’s into the superhero genre.