Batman: Assault on Arkham is a 2014 direct-to-video animated superhero film. Directed by Jay Oliva and Ethan Spaulding, the film brings together the voice-actors from Batman: Arkham Origins.
The film is meant as a direct-sequel to Origins, and likely meant as a test-run for the Suicide Squad. (An actual live-action film is already in the works, but there are also scurrying rumors about Warner Bros. Montreal making a spin-off from Arkham Origins.)
The title of this film is a little misleading, this isn't a film following Batman by any means, but it does mostly stay true to being an adaptation of the Arkham Origins video-game. Various different characters from it, with the same visual style appear, and it does pickup where Origins left off.
Even still, this is a Suicide Squad movie.
The story focuses on six criminals that have been dispatched by a secret government agency to break into Arkham Asylum. Once there, they must contend with various different inmates and Batman while they search with intent on apprehending The Riddler. While the other characters are introduced and allowed for interaction, Assault on Arkham mostly focuses on Harley Quinn and Deadshot.
The first thing that I want to bring up about this film is the animation. When I wrote my review about Son of Batman, I talked about how it felt bland and dreary. This film doesn't have the same problems, and in-fact, it looks very, very well-done. There's a lot of visual style with the animation, and it is actually used in a way to enhance everything happening in the film. This is proven very early-on in the film with the cheesy and over-the-top introductions that are done for the villains.
I will offer one criticism about the visuals, however. They didn't have nudity in this film, or anything like that, but there definitely was a lot of suggestive imagery. Harley Quinn is featured in a small sex-scene and there are a lot of moments that seem to 'tease' the viewer, like when the camera comes up just a second too slow to catch a glimpse of Killer Frost in the bust. I feel like a lot of them weren't necessary. Too many is what I would say. They teased nudity a lot, and it's not as if it's fan-service, it's distracting and it didn't really add anything to the characters. I wouldn't even mention it if it were only done once or twice, but it feels excessive. (Unless, you're actually going to show nudity, in-which case, ... I feel like I should never see Harley naked, ... totally ruins the mystery.... but go ahead.)
I liked a lot of humor in this film as well, Harley is a tidbit over-the-top in this one, but luckily, I usually enjoy her shtick. She adds comedic relief to some of the other villains, and it definitely was one of the highlights of the film. None of the characters actually do bad in this film. The voice-acting was topnotch as expected, and there's enough intrigue and awe about it all to keep things interesting.
The biggest highlight is how refreshing the story is. The idea of following around a bunch of villains is something that hasn't been tread nearly enough in superhero films, and it definitely worked here. Watching them work together was very entertaining and it carried a new found sense of enthusiasm and flash that hadn't been seen before in DC's animated films.
The film definitely comes off as nonlinear. There is no strong story arc to speak of, but instead, it focuses on the action, and the dynamic between all of the characters. The film focuses on entertainment more than storytelling, and it succeeds more often than it fails.
In conclusion, while I won't say that this is the best animated film that I have seen from DC. I think that Batman: Assault on Arkham is easily the funnest one out of them all. The animation is tremendous, voice-acting, as well, and the action-scenes and entertainment-value are topnotch.
If this experiment was to see whether or not viewers are interested in seeing more attention on the Suicide Squad, I would call it a big success, and I hope they follow through. Hopefully with a Suicide Squad video-game from Warner Bros. Montreal.
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Rating: Above Average