The latest installment from Warner Bros. Animated is more of an homage to the Arkham game series than a standalone film. However, “Batman: Assault on Arkham” certainly tries its best to entertain the hell out of its fanboy and fangirl audience. It hits the ground running with plenty of supervillains and violence for the whole Bat-family.
Those of you Bat-fans that are parents, I don’t recommend allowing your children to watch this particular film as characters do, SPOILERS!, die in this film. Your average store, Walmart is actually the worst at this, will usually place an animated feature of any kind in the children’s section. Warning! Most of these new-generation DC films are incredibly violent, and the new 52 version of these heroes have no problem killing people, or at least allowing people to die or be seen dying on-screen. Hyper-violence seems to be the new way of things, not that I am complaining, but I’m an adult, not a child. Anyway, enough with the moral speeches, let’s talk about “Assault on Arkham”. I will keep this as SPOILER free as possible.
The premise of this feature is Amanda Waller decides to assemble the best members of the Suicide Squad for a mission to break into Arkham Asylum. The team is referred to as Task Force X, due to the X’s on the back of their necks. These X’s are surgical scars from where Waller has implanted a tracer that is retrofitted with a nanotech explosive that will blow the team members’ heads clean off if Waller doesn’t like what they’re up to. For those of you who are as old as me and watched Justice League Unlimited, you may remember an episode that centers around the Suicide Squad breaking into the Justice League satellite. Anyways, that episode was called Task Force X. So, there’s your DC lesson for the day, kids.
The voice cast is, as always, assembled by the exceptional Andrea Romano. Though he is only a side character in this feature, Batman is voiced by our beloved Kevin Conroy, who also voiced Bats in the Arkham series. Task Force X’s team members consist of Deadshot (Neal McDonough), Killer Frost (Jennifer Hale), Black Spider (Giancarlo Esposito), Harley Quinn (Hynden Walch), King Shark (John DiMaggio), and Captain Boomerang (Greg Ellis).
Additionally, there are “cameos” from the Arkham series as voice actors and Rogue’s Gallery villains appear from the game in this film. Some of them are the Penguin/Cobblepot (Nolan North), Riddler (Matthew Gray Gubler), and, of course, the Joker (Troy Baker). There are others, but I’ll let you watch and see for yourself this time around. One voice to make note of is the lovely CCH Pounder reprising her recurring role as Amanda Waller on nearly every series or animated feature since Justice League.
This feature is clearly a love letter to all of us who have played the Arkham series games. From the scenery, locations, down to the very design of Arkham island, it is very clear these characters are running around the Arkham Asylum first seen in the “Arkham Asylum” game. The plot itself unfolds at points as if you are Batman watching everyone carry out this other story plot. If this WERE a game, it would probably be like “Arkham City,” where you have to play as both Batman and another character. In this case, Deadshot or Captain Boomerang would be fun to play as. At certain points, Batman just shows up and you the viewer are like, hey, this is where I’d come in and have a boss fight or clear a room. Seriously, the writers did a good job giving it the feel of the game, as well, as making it a fun flick to watch.
“Assault on Arkham” is meant to fill the void, so to speak, until the next Justice League animated feature is released next year. To look forward to, we have “Justice League: Throne of Atlantis,” as the newly formed Justice League deals with the discovery of Atlanteans and the aftermath of the death of its king. Aquaman will be voiced by Matt Lanter, of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” series and another Star Wars alum, Sam Witwer as Orm, from “The Force Unleashed” games and also “Clone Wars.” In review, “Assault on Arkham” is a violent, fun romp through the world of the Arkham games. This is a step up, big time!, from the last feature which left a lot to be desired.