Saturday, September 13, 2014

Assault on Arkham

Purposely made to resemble the look and tone of the Arkham Asylum video games (which are more fun to play than watch) and featuring the New 52 version of the Suicide Squad (widely regarded as DC's worst comic over the past three years), Batman: Assault on Arkham is something of a mixed bag. The character designs are drab, the character interactions are particularly one-note, and the logic of the script is rather weak (sending Task Force X into Arkham not to find a dirty bomb but to retrieve a questionable source of information).

The straight-to-DVD movie does offer us Kevin Conroy reprising the role as Batman, but the rest of the voice cast, while not awful, is quickly forgettable. The squad itself is made up of Deadshot (Neal McDonough), Killer Frost (Jennifer Hale), the least impressive version of King Shark possible (wasting the talents of John DiMaggio), a particularly slutty Harley Quinn (Hynden Walch), the argumentative Captain Boomerang (Greg Ellis), the rather nondescript Black Spider (Giancarlo Esposito), and the quickly-dispatched KGBeast (Nolan North) whose unfortunate early exit is rather disappointing.

The movie throws several other Batman characters into the script most notably the Joker (Troy Baker) whose secret dirty bomb subplot is more interesting that Task Force X's assignment involving the Riddler's (Matthew Gray Gubler) intelligence on the secret government program. Also making appearances are the Penguin (North), Zsasz and the Scarecrow (both voiced by Christian Lanz), Bane, and Poison Ivy.

Depending mostly on action, questionable suspense, and antagonistic character interactions among the group, the script has more than a few major story issues. Why would a mental institution for the criminally insane keep the super-villains' weapons on-site (wouldn't they be better off in a police impound)? Why did Amanda Waller (CCH Pounder) choose this collection of villains for the latest iteration of the Suicide Squad when only Deadshot's talents and Harley Quinn's knowledge of the facility are specifically valuable to the mission? Why did no one collecting or cataloging evidence ever check Harley's hammer, including Harley herself, for a (likely very heavy) bomb?

Available on both DVD and Blu-ray, extras include a sneak peak of Justice League: Throne of Atlantis and audio commentary from Mike Carlin, screenwriter Heath Corson, and producer James Tucker. The Blu-ray also includes four animated episodes ("Task Force X," "Infiltrator," "Emperor Joker," and "Two of a Kind"), DVD and digital copies of the movie, and featurettes spotlighting Harley Quinn and Arkham Asylum.

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