‘Batman: Assault on Arkham’ Review

Published 2 months ago by , Updated August 11th, 2014 at 7:57 am,

Batman Assault on Arkham Reviews 2014 Batman: Assault on Arkham Review

Batman: Assault on Arkham may not be suitable for children, but for adult fans of DC animated movies it is a dirty good time.

Batman: Assault on Arkham takes the world of the Arkham Asylum video games series and adapts it for the DC Animated Universe. Rather than re-hash the story of the video games, however, Assault on Arkham plays like a re-imagined interquel, in which we bear witness to a side story about a separate mission taking place within Arkham, as Batman is busy hunting down a bomb planted by The Joker.

“The Suicide Squad” is a team of villains coerced into government black-ops service by Amanda Waller, under threat of having tracker implants in their neck explode and kill them. The Squad’s mission in Arkham? Track down the Riddler and obtain an item he stole, without arousing the suspicion of Arkham personnel – or The Batman. However, professional assassins like Deadshot and Black Spider prove to be violent mismatches with volatile psychopaths like King Shark, Killer Frost and Harley Quinn – and when The Joker gets loose in Arkham, both the Suicide Squad and Batman will have their hands full of mayhem.

Batman Kevin Conroy in Assault on Arkham Batman: Assault on Arkham Review

Batman (Kevin Conroy) in ‘Batman: Assault on Arkham’

Assault on Arkham is a case of flagrant false advertising – yet the bait and switch arguably works out for the better. This is not a Batman movie; nor is it really an Arkham Asylum game adaptation. What B:AoA truly is, is a test run for The Suicide Squad as a major DC screen property – and in that sense it is a rousing success, because watching this team of villains turns out to be one of the more refreshing DC Universe experiences we’ve gotten in a long while.

DCU veteran Jay Oliva (Under the Red Hood, The Dark Knight Returns) returns to the helm (along with Ethan Spaulding) to craft yet another quality DCU feature. Assault on Arkham not only has some of the more polished and tight animations of any recent DCU feature; in Oliva’s hands, the film is given actual style to work with – a cool ’70s heist film vibe that’s a perfect fit for these unscrupulous protagonists.

It should be duly noted, however: This Film is NOT for kids. Given the subject matter (criminals), it should come as little surprise that Assault on Arkham pushes every boundary of its PG-13 rating, Dark Knight style. There is sex, profanity, a whole lot of violence and some pretty gruesome death, to boot. This is a DCU feature aimed at adult fans, and it plays well as such (“Yahtzee!”). If you grew up on DC animation and are now of parental age yourself, this is definitely a movie you’ll enjoy.

Amanda Waller CCH Pounder in Batman Assault on Arkham Batman: Assault on Arkham Review

Amanda Waller (CCH Pounder) in ‘Batman: Assault on Arkham’

Screenwriter Heath Corson does as good a job marrying the various source materials to the demands of a DC Animated movie. The film manages to sneak by with just enough allusions and references to the world of the Arkham Asylum games to justify the film’s title (a Batman with visible eyeballs; signature fight moves; character designs and costumes, etc.);  but it’s also a very good Suicide Squad character piece and overall concept test. The plot is straightforward but sensible; the character arcs are engaging, yet always true to the characters themselves; and the tensions and conflicts are all fun to watch as this time bomb of a team ticks down to self-detonation. In the end, many fans will probably get behind the idea of a Rated-R Suicide Squad movie.

The voice acting is blessedly top-notch. Fans will be happy to have longtime favorites like Kevin Conroy and CCH Pounder on hand voicing Batman and Amanda Waller again; meanwhile, new favorites like Arkham Origins’ Joker Troy Baker -  or DC Showcase and “Cadillac Guy” actor Neal McDonough – make characters like The Joker and Deadshot sound both dynamic and authentic in delivery.

The Joker Troy Baker in Batman Assault on Arkham Batman: Assault on Arkham Review

The Joker (Troy Baker) in ‘Batman: Assault on Arkham’

Other than that, veterans like John DiMaggio (Futurama), Jennifer Hale (Injustice: Gods Among Us), Hynden Walch (Teen Titans), Martin Jarvis (Arkham City) and even Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad and Son of Batman) fill in the supporting roles with either familiar or fitting voices – the combination of which give BAoA the feel of classic DC Animated series like Justice League Unlimited. It’s good stuff, and one of the rare contemporary cases where every voice fits snugly into their role.

In the end, Batman: Assault on Arkham may not be suitable for children, but for adult fans of DC animated movies it is a dirty good time. The opportunity to truly explore the DCU from the underbelly of supervillain perspective is a welcome and refreshing one – while thin threads of connection with the Arkham Asylum game series provide a nice structure and familiarity to the world of the film and the characters therein. If you’re of age, don’t miss this one; it’s not everyday that DC, Marvel – or any other animation company – caters exclusively to their adult demo. It’s worth taking the dark, twisted ride.

TRAILER

Batman: Assault on Arkham is available on digital download and VOD. It will be available on DVD/Blu-ray on August 12th. It is 75 minutes long and is Rated PG-13 for violence, sexual content and language.

Our Rating:

4.5 out of 5
(Must-See)

Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:
TAGS: batman, batman assault on arkham

72 Comments

Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to Gravatar.com and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.


If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it.

  1. It was very good to see deadshot get more screen time!

  2. I may be unpopular in this but here it goes: I’m sure that fans of the Arkham game series will love the entry, and Kevin Conroy saying “NOW!” on the spot makes it feel like an episode of BTAS that never got aired. So that’s a great addition. Also, Tara Strong (former Batgirl, full-time Bubbles) as Harley is both a strange kind of sexy (for um… her Batgirl nostalgia, not the latter!!!) as well as a bit disturbing. I think she stole the show.

    The man who gave Deadshot’s voice was too similar to Conroy’s and seemed to have the same intonation at the very least. On the other hand, Joker’s acting was spot-on perfect.

    I also love how many parts of the film feels like homages to previous classic video games that I grew up with: the prologue (which is available online in YT) featuring Batman taking down Amanda Waller’s thugs evokes Arkham City in many good ways, but it doesn’t stop there — it continued on with a visual montage introducing each member of the SS that was very much like the intro cut-scenes in a TEKKEN game. The homages followed with a very Escape from NY / Metal Gear Solid vibe when the SS enter Gotham. And finally to Capcom’s now infamous use of the classic fixed-surveillance camera angles for old-school games like Resident Evil (the original one) and Dino Crisis.

    And yes, I enjoyed the sex and the snark. But I also have some problems with them. Seeing as how this entire DTV film is anything BUT aimed at adults. It isn’t aimed at children either, as it is both too violent and too sexual for any decent kid below the age of 7 to watch. And the whole “riddle” surrounding Batman’s switch near the end was obvious from a mile-away, honestly BTAS did it a lot better, and the shamelessly no-holds-barred “climax” was little more than worth frowning for older viewers, while I’m certain that a demographic aged between 10 and 12 would eat this up.

    Which brings me to the notion that this is NOT aimed towards adults. If it were, we would have much more matured writing and less “splash-pages” littered throughout. It is sheer spectacle, of the Call of Duty “cool” sort. Batman owns every scene he’s in, but we’ve already seen that a gajillion times. Compared to this, a film like Year One or DKR parts I and II were truly “adult” stories.

    And after seeing THOSE, this one felt like the writers were insulting my intelligence. Seriously if you’re gonna talk and tease about sex, go all the way! If you are gonna do violence, don’t refrain yourself from making it somewhat grounded. I loved the first half of the film with its various homages to the old-school games. Damn, I AM getting old.

    • Kofi Outlaw, voice of a teenage generation.

    • Oh, middle of the road is as far as it’s ever going to go with these properties. I know what you mean though. I go into these with that in mind. I’m not expecting Ninja Scroll from DC direct to dvd fare.

      B

      • But you can do a really GOOD middle-of-the-road approach that’s fulfilling for everyone. What I don’t understand is how production values affect matured storytelling. Is there some kind of law in Hollywoodland that says that writers who are paid less also happen to be bad-writers? Is there a good-writer/bad-writer gauge? Even if it is aimed at a younger audience while simultaneously engineered to attract older ones, it doesn’t have to be juvenile, which everything about this film screamed.

        Mind you, this is the same studio that gave us The New Frontier and Wonder Woman.

    • I agree minus the video games homages since I don’t know much about video games. And to be fair, I don’t think Kofi was equating being aimed at adults with mature storytelling (at least I hope not as this one is definitely not), seemed more as in kids shouldn’t be watching this.

      • Yeah that makes sense. Though I have to say that I preferred the maturity of BTAS or even the previous DTVs. They want to make Batman “darker” and use him to sort of usher in as many grim-dark characters as imaginable, but at the end of the day that only harms Batman’s role as a hero in my book.

    • Tara Strong voices Harley in the games (since City, anyway) but I’m pretty sure Harley is voiced by another actress in this film.

      • Hyden Walch, who voiced Harley on “The Batman” and an alternate version(Yo-Yo) in “Flashpoint Paradox”.

      • Ah thanks for correcting! My bad there :) It’s surprising how many of the voice actors were able to mimic their predecessors, especially Baker’s Hamil impression (both from here and Origins). Good casting call.

    • Batman comics at least the ones I read in my youth were never marketed towards “kids.” I’m not sure where this idea originated ? Just because it’s a cartoon doesn’t mean it has to be for kids.

      Batman A Death in the family for ONE example. You have a full page of panels showing the Joker hitting Robin with a crowbar, followed with blowing up the building with his Mom & Batman arriving too late to walk out of the wreckage with his burnt corpse.

      Kids… ? Uhmm yeah.

    • I wasn’t super impressed with this movie. I give DC props for trying something new but I don’t really think it delivered that well. I appreciated that the character designs, arkham city, and asylum were how they appear in the Rocksteady games. I didn’t mind the heist style story either but it felt too forced and that it tried too hard to be an Ocean’s 11 movie. Also most of the Suicide Squad appeared to be made up characters to be put into the movie so they could be killed off.
      I was annoyed that with about twenty minutes left in the movie they pop in Two Face, Bane, Poison Ivy, and Scarecrow. They were unnecessary for this movie and I think it did the characters a disservice by throwing them in for a split second and seeing them defeated/dealt with a second later. The scene I hated most was where it shows the Riddler on a bed reading a book called “RIDDLES”!!! How cliche and generic can you get. I felt insulted as a viewer during that scene. In fact all of his “riddles” were terrible in this movie. I know there is only so much time and it’s hard to balance everything… that’s why you cut all the crappy throw away characters and give justice to the good characters.
      I also hated (spoilers) that the Joker goes off a building in a helicopter explosion and then they throw in the classic lazy story teller crutch that “they never found a body”. Can’t we get something richer than that?
      They pulled off the action well as per usual. Deadshot was surprisingly very well represented. Batman was fine other than the whole outfit switch with the Spider dude was obvious. I wanted to see more of Batman.
      I like dubstep but it didn’t really seem to fit here. Overall it was good but if they are shooting for an older/smarter audience make it that way. Just by adding some sexuality and bloody violence doesn’t automatically elevate it to something more sophisticated. The core heist style storyline was a great idea but it was executed horribly.

  3. I hate the Batman games’ gameplay, it’s stories aren’t bad, probably good, but the gameplay is shockingly boring and all too simple.

    • I fail to see the appeal for a sandbox Batman game if it’s going to be a stealth-brawler. I love the Batman Begins video game, which was pure stealth and I think this is a series that could’ve benefited, as a sandbox, to take notes from LA Noire with its detective/crime-procedural style of gameplay.

    • oh please then do us a favor and don’t play them.

      • I did, haha. :D I played Arkham Asylum, loved it then. And onwards simply watched my friends play and love it for what it’s worth. I still think the gameplay mechanics could have been improved to reflect Batman as a detective rather than “the g****** batman”

    • IT’S JUST MASHING ONE BUTTON ALL THE TIME ZOMG *typical ignorant naysayer. Maybe try playing on hard without warning signs over goons’ heads. Use your gadgets and buildthem into your combo, plus coordianting in a big crowds to hit the right target can be challenging too.

      Look at, you have me writing an essay about a completely irrevelent topic, geez.

  4. I couldn’t get passed 30 minutes.

    • Yeah I couldn’t either, it gave me motion sickness with all the narrow hallways and camera constantly panning around.

  5. Great movie. Awesome all around. Honestly I think if we’re to compare the level Batman in this movie the best comparison would have to be Public Enemies 2. This is how you utilize Batman as a secondary character.

    Great action, great Animation, great story and it’s just a fun all-around movie. DCA still shows they’re top dog when it comes to animation.

  6. 4.5 out of 5?
    -this was crap.

    B:AoA suffered from identity crisis the millisecond it began to play.

    • Care to expound on your brilliant analysis?

      • The screenplay was poorly written. the intended humor was slapstick in it’s execution, almost keystone coppish. Although the theme of B:AoA is dark, 75% of the dialogue is one-liners, funny, jovial-at least that’s the intention of the delivery. The main character, Batman, has very little screen time as the dominance of the material is carried by the introduction of what will be The Suicide Squad in future DC animated films. B:AoA, in my opinion, which was supposed to have been based upon the Batman:Arham video game franchise-is actually multiple stories of the DC Universe put into a blender set to Puree and eventually poured over ice….but without the twist.

        B:AoA wanted to do too many things and go in too many directions-the restraints of the output ultimately resulted in failure of many of the objectives.

  7. This was horrible, just horrible, boring, cliché, with stupid dialogue, s*** story, action just for the sake of action.

  8. It’s interesting that DC made the claims that it would release a number of superhero films before bringing Justice League to the big screen. It would be smarter for DC to go the route of the animated films for the big screen rather than try to make individual live-action films leading up to the aforementioned Justice League.

  9. That was the BEST DC animation movie yet!!

    Wow!!!

    I’m not sure if some of this negative feedback some of you are posting is genuine or if you truly have zero taste. Either way, you’re dead wrong.

    The story was fantastic and the lines were great! Harley and Joker stole the whole movie.

    (SPOILERS)

    What’s more, they ACTUALLY killed off some of the characters in the course of the movie. That’s like breaking some kind of comic law because it was not tied to some stupid alternate earth story line!! HAHAHA!! I loved it!! Was totally not expecting the level of carnage.

    I am not saying this is the way DC needs to go, but it sure is nice that they have the balls to take a story to this level.

    Great job, DC! Great job, Oliva!

    • I couldn’t agree more! The characters were great. I thought the bait and switch worked really well as well. Killing off some of the characters was a surprise, but right from the start with the introduction did bring that reality to an actual possibility. Plus it leads to the possibility that if DC does go this route that this revolving door of villains could be used, when using the team up of villains which Kofi mentioned in various podcasts. I really enjoyed the banter back and forth and some of the other one-liner dialogue. The King Shark/Killer Frost relationship was pretty funny. The personalities of the characters really stole the movie for me because without that you really get into a straightforward movie and it could easily be a flop.

      All in all, I’m very excited to see the DC direction. Not to be a Kofi fanboy, but his ideas he had dropped for possible spinoffs and 2nd tier type movies that can be made for 50million, I agree can be quite successful. They can get away with doing more of the R-rated movies and doing more of the unique approaches and not taking too big of a hit because the BvS & JL movies will be box office hits. I’d be curious to see if they use this movie, if taken to a big screen, will be used as canon and build off of this movie.

  10. So I just finished watching ‘Batman: Assault on Arkham,’ and I feel really dull. I look so forward to these DC animated movies, but lately with ‘Justice League: War, and ‘Son of Batman’ I definitely see a change in quality since Bruce Timm left as producer. I’m sorry but trying to be “Edgy and more Mature,” doesn’t make it a better movie. The whole time I was watching I felt like I was drinking ten Red Bulls, Texting as many people as possible, while trying to smoke crack! This wasn’t bad or great but definitely a rental, then never watched again. 3 stars at the most in my opinion.

    Plus Side: The interaction between Batman, Joker, Harley, and Deadshot kept me from just getting up from my seat and walking away. Kevin Conroy: Your Still The Batman.

  11. This movie was great, hope they make more Rated-R DC movies

  12. Alot of comments like vslayer hit the nail on the head: this seems like it was made for immature audiences over 18.

    The females with giganto boobs and butts were a TOTAL affront to the intelligence of anyone (who’s had at least one girlfriend.) And for that matter, do the females HAVE to show more skin than the men? Again, it’s the kinda thing that will get you verbally brutalized if your sister walks into the room. I blame either Steve Jones or Jay Oliva: what the heck?!

    I can forgive the mediocre script or stories out of fan love, – imperfect is still fun to watch- but not the pronounced syndrome of overt arrested development.

    When Bruce Timm was at the helm, we weren’t made to feel like losers. In fact, his era made comic lore seem savvy. Now Oliva’s oeuvres is just making the viewer seem like a pornmonger in trenchcoat. I’m glad the characters can fall in love and some human seminudity is just fine, but freakish Barbie style idealizations that are one-sided to degrade or objectify YET AGAIN!

    • I’m not sure if you’ve ever read any comics, but I’m betting if you’d had you’d know the proportions on both genders are usualky exaggerated or altered in some way. Many artists possess varying styles and techniques ; that’s what makes it art and not just pointless doodles. It would make sense for those inherent qualities to.be represented in its animated form.Might want to think about that before you start raging over nothing.