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Batman: Assault on Arkham
Score: 80%
Rating: PG-13
Publisher: Warner Brothers
Region: A
Media: Blu-ray/2
Running Time: 76 Mins.
Genre: Animated/Comic Book/Caper
Audio: DTS-HD: English 5.1, Dolby
           Digital: French 5.1 & Spanish
           2.0

Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish

Features:
  • From the DC Comics Vault:
    • Justice League Unlimited: Task Force "X"
    • Young Justice: Infiltrator
    • Batman: The Brave and The Bold: Emperor Joker
    • The Batman: Two of a Kind
  • A Sneak Peek at Justice League: Throne of Atlantis
  • Featurette: The Joker's Queen: Harley Quinn
  • Featurette: Arkham Analyzed: The Secrets Behind the Asylum
  • Commentary
  • Blu-Ray, DVD and UltraViolet Digital Download versions included

The Arkham series of games has been a major success so far, so it's not too surprising that someone would look for additional directions to take this particular version of Batman. Thus, we get Batman: Assault on Arkham. However, given that, in the game, the player plays as Batman, so the story is portrayed from Batman's point of view, it may be surprising and, perhaps, displeasing to some Batman fans to find that Batman: Assault on Arkham focuses on a gang of Batman's villains and Batman is, in fact, mostly a side-note in this story - more something that the story touches on to establish the timeline and how close Batman is to catching up to the gang.

So why a group of villains? It turns out there is a secret government agency that harnesses captured villains and forces them to do their dirty work - or else - with plausible deniability, of course. This rag-tag team of villains thrust together and controlled by Amanda Waller (CCH Pounder) is known as the "Suicide Squad." This time around, there's a special operation to break in to Arkham Asylum and retrieve a thumb drive from the Riddler's cane in the Arkham evidence vault. The team consists of: Killer Frost, King Shark, Black Spider, Captain Boomerang, KGBeast, Deadshot and the deadly, fun-loving Harley Quinn. Harley is an obvious choice for infiltrating Arkham, given her history, but she also presents a dangerous complication, since her "ex," the Joker, is currently incarcerated in that very prison and, should they have a run-in with each other, well, sparks will fly.

Fans of the Arkham series will easily recognize the dark and gritty portrayal of Gotham and Arkham from the videogames. Additionally, key voice acting talent comes from the games, including Kevin Conroy voicing Batman/Bruce Wayne, Troy Baker voicing the Joker, Nolan North as the Penguin/Oswald Cobblepot (and KGBeast) and Martin Jarvis as Alfred Pennyworth. Another really nice fit is Matthew Gray Gubler (Criminal Minds) as The Riddler/Edward Nigma. Truly, all of the voice acting was great, including , Hynden Walch (from "The Batman") voicing Harley Quinn/Harleen Quinzel, Neal McDonough as Deadshot, Chris Cox (Deadshot in the games / Glumshanks in the Skylanders series) as Commissioner Gordon, John DiMaggio as King Shark, Greg Ellis as Captain Boomerang, Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad and Revolution) as Black Spider, Jennifer Hale as Killer Frost and Christian Lanz as Scarecrow/Dr. Jonathan Crane (and Victor Zsasz).

The movie is very much a caper movie, with the motley gang of bad guys in some very real danger, which becomes quite apparent when they're first briefed on their predicament and one of the motley crew decides to call Amanda Waller's bluff. (Not a good idea.) Also, this is definitely not one for the kiddies. There is a lot of violence to be had here, covered in bad language and accented with sex and nudity. Okay, heavily suggested sex and nudity, so you won't get to see Harley's naughty bits. Oh, who am I kidding? All of Harley's bits are naughty, but you know what I mean.

The animation is well done, the fight scenes are great, the rivalry between Captain Boomerang and Deadshot is priceless and Hynden Walch's Harley Quinn is great. Also, fans of Batman in the various iterations will catch a wide variety of references, including The Dark Knight, Batman (1989) and Batman Returns. The only thing that detracts from it is that Batman, himself, is fairly ancillary in the story, which is a bit misleading.

Often videos will have "previews" of related shows; usually these amount to trailers of said shows - essentially commercials. Trailers usually aren't worth mentioning in a review. In Batman: Assault on Arkham, however, the "previews" of other shows are actually full episodes. You can check out four different cartoons: Justice League Unlimited: Task Force "X", Young Justice: Infiltrator, Batman: The Brave and the Bold: Emperor Joker (featuring Batmite) and The Batman: Two of a Kind. (And, yes, there are some trailers, too.)

The commentary was fun to listen to, and points out a lot of the references to other Batman properties, which was nice, but my favorite special feature, other than the fact that four complete cartoons are included, had to be the featurette that shows where Harley Quinn came from and talks about how she evolved. She is a fan favorite and an interesting character who wouldn't be what she is without the Joker, but Batman: Assault on Arkham shows a Harley who is a bit more independent... or who is looking to make her ex jealous, anyway...

There is talk in the commentary of doing a series of nothing but Suicide Squad films in this fashion, which I think would have a lot of potential, but it would need to stay not-for-kids... and would need to be branded as Suicide Squad, not Batman.

So, let's see... little kids shouldn't see it and those hoping for animated nudity will find themselves only teased, but longtime fans of Batman will enjoy all the references and fans of the various baddies involved may enjoy seeing them get some screentime. As for fans of Suicide Squad? ...Enjoy.



-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins
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