New on DVD/Blu-ray: Batman – Assault on Arkham (2014)

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Batman - Assault on Arkham (2014) Movie Image

DC/WB have been steadily releasing animated movies for some time now, and the latest is somewhat of a departure from their normal focus on adapting established stories from the comics. “Batman: Assault on Arkham” is the 20th release but is the first to be based on a video game, and if we could get more tie-ins like this, the Arkham series would be an even bigger media juggernaut than it already is.

If you’re a fan of the character, the games are absolutely amazing! I don’t usually give that high a praise for video games based on comics because they usually fall short, but even the worst Arkham game is still good. If you crossed the Nolan films with the comic universe you’d have the Arkham game world. They are gritty, realistic, and wholly centered on Batman lore and history without trying to compromise for full-on reality. The games takes you through a who’s who of Batman’s rogues, all while telling great stories and setting up great action.

Recently, the series has been broken into two settings: The Origins Timeline and the Modern Timeline. “Batman: Arkham Origins” was set five years before the events of the first game and shows a younger, less established but fully capable Batman as he is hunted down by mercenaries and assassins on Christmas Eve. The first game, “Arkham Asylum” and its sequel “Arkham City” take place in a current Gotham, with an established and well-known Dark Knight. “Assault on Arkham” the movie takes place 2 years before the first game and centers on a heist set up by the government to retrieve something from within Arkham. Only a psycho would take that mission, or some hardened convicts with nothing to lose. Enter Task Force X aka the Suicide Squad!

Batman - Assault on Arkham (2014) Movie Image

Amanda Waller (CCH Pounder) heads up an off-the-books government program that uses criminal metahumans as expendable agents on missions that would otherwise be deemed to dirty for the US government to take on. Task Force X was created just for such jobs, and with an ever growing number of super criminals, they have an endless supply of “volunteers.” The team is constantly changing as they switch up who they need depending on the job, but there are some mainstays. First appearing on screen in “Justice League Unlimited,” this dirty dozen-esque team gets put together to retrieve a hard drive belonging to the Riddler (Matthew Gray Gubler). Of course the idea of breaking into Arkham alone is enough to put most off the job, even the likes of King Shark (John DiMaggio), Killer Frost (Jennifer Hale), Black Spider (Giancarlo Esposito), and Captain Boomerang (Greg Ellis). But Harley Quinn (Hynden Walch) and Deadshot (Neil McDonough) are up for it, and the rest don’t really have a choice.

What follows is a heist flick that is peppered with lots of good action and a decent story. It’s the characters that really stand out though. McDonough is perfect as Deadshot. He’s got the swagger and the confidence, and the skills to back them up, and it’s all played that way. He and Walch’s Harley Quinn stand out among the team and they get most of the story and dialogue. Think “The Usual Suspects” in Gotham and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what kind of story you’re getting.

Batman - Assault on Arkham (2014) Movie Image

But of course this wouldn’t be Gotham without an appearance from the Dark Knight himself. Batman is voiced by fan favorite and Batman to generations Kevin Conroy. He is only in the movie a handful of times, but when he shows up, man is it something! I was watching this with my good friend Virgil and we were both laughing out loud at the reaction people had in the movie whenever Batman shows up.  We gave it a Pucker Factor rating. Pucker Factor is the amount in which a person’s sphincter contracts uncontrollably from fear. Batman was like a 9 out of 10! Every time he shows up everyone’s butthole tightened to pinholes! They definitely made you feel the “Oh Crap!” reaction and that just made his appearances even better.  But if there’s a Batman sighting, and we’re in Arkham, and Harley is involved it’s only a matter of time before the Clown Prince of Crime shows up to add chaos to the proceedings, and good lord does he! Though introduced earlier in the film, the Joker reintroduces himself to the team in explosive fashion with one of the best lines ever delivered by the Joker. Sadly Mark Hamill did not return for the role, but Troy Baker does an excellent job standing in, and sometimes you forget you’re not listening to Mr. Skywalker.

“Batman: Assault on Arkham” is an animated movie and the visuals are a very important part of the medium, even more so because a visual style has already been established. When the movie was first announced, I wondered if they’d do a CGI movie like the cut-scenes in the games, or would it be traditional animation. We got our answer, and though it takes some getting used to, this is very much the Arkham world. From the backgrounds within Arkham to the look of the characters, it’s all in line with the designs from the games. The action flows fluidly and the slower moments allow you to really take everything in details-wise.

Batman - Assault on Arkham (2014) Movie Image

WB/DC took a risk by making a movie all about the bad guys, but it paid off. You genuinely begin to like Deadshot, and if you haven’t loved Harley before you will now. Everyone else is treated admirably, but the heist flick feel and the Gotham setting really make for a fun Batman movie, even if he isn’t the star. I could easily see a Suicide Squad live-action flick being made, even one without any connections to Batman.

“Batman: Assault on Arkham” has some decent special features, including their great featurettes looking into the comics lore, this time focusing on Harley and Arkham Asylum, as well as a sneak peek at the upcoming “Justice League: Throne of Atlantis” movie, which actually has a bunch of footage from the finished film, and the prerequisite episodes from the DC animated vault.

Bottom Line: if you’re a fan of the games, a heist flick fan, or a fan of the DC Animated Universe in general, check this out. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Besides, who doesn’t like to see the bad guys get away?

Jay Oliva, Ethan Spaulding (director) / Heath Corson (screenplay)
CAST: KKevin Conroy … Batman / Bruce Wayne (voice)
Neal McDonough … Deadshot / Floyd Lawton (voice)
Hynden Walch … Harley Quinn / Harleen Quinzel (voice)
Matthew Gray Gubler … The Riddler / Edward Nigma (voice)
Troy Baker … The Joker (voice)
Chris Cox … G.C.P.D. Commissioner James Gordon (voice)


Buy Batman - Assault on Arkham on DVD or Blu-ray

Author: Dedpool

Movies, Comics, Anime and toons. I'm all about it. Love to read and write too.
  • Pietro Sala

    Never bought the “Arkham Origins is set 5 years before Arkham Asylum” story. Batman in Asylum and City is, like his comic counterpart, in his mid-40 while in Origins, being a story set during his second year as Batman, he is in his mid-20. Also, to many things have to happen for a just-5-years-gap: harleen quinzell fully becoming Harley quinn, most of the villans have to appear and get to know batman that well, the “No man’s land” storyline… and most of all Batman must train three different Robins and Barbara, that in Origins is just a teenager, must become first Batgirl and then Oracle.

    One of the best things of this series is that it didn’t focus on all this things: all the backstories where deeply conected to the comic lore and you could get all the informations you need from inside files. As long as I liked Origins, it always felt like an unnecessary filler, ruining part of the magic retelling the beginning of the story.

    But that filler gave us this movie, which I simpley loved. Only a bit disappointed with the ending, just the part before the final showdown: a bit to chaotic and fast. But overall a must have!

    • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

      Yeah DC has this thing with 5 year gaps and fitting so much into them. The New 52 started with JL being set 5 years before most current books,. but again that mean a lot of majort things had to happen, even discounting some and retro actively telling new versions of stories. Luckily they’re doing a series to rectify that basically retelling origins and early stories. They definitely should’ve set Origins 10 years back, not 5.

      • Aegon the Conqueror

        Try closer to 15, Dick had to become Nightwing, Jason Todd had to already have been Red Hood, Batgirl was already paralyzed and Tim Drake looked to be in his early 20s in Arkham City.

        • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

          Well this is a different world and timeline. For all we know all the Robin’s were in their mid-to late teens when brought into the fold by Batman. He could’ve gone through all three Robins and we don’t even know if Barbara ever was Batgirl in this version. Origins is on Batman’s second year. If Batman is 25 in Origins (for sake of discussion) in years 3-5, he trained Dick (and maybe Barbara), year 6-7 Dick becomes Nightwing, Barbara is paralyzed, and he begins training Jason, year 8 Jason is “Killed” and he takes a year of brooding, year 9-10 Tim discovers Bruce and Dick’s identity, and is taken into the fold and trained. That’d put Batman at about 38 or so when Arkham Knight begins. I mean it would definitely be more believable with 15 years but 10 is possible.

          • Aegon the Conqueror

            I suppose, but yeah we know she was Batgirl, it’s in her Oracle’s profile in the games. But all in all 5 years is pretty much impossible.

          • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

            I forgot about that. But yeah 5 years is impossible. Great games though! I would love some more animated Arkham movies or a full on CGI retelling of the games.

          • JasOn Vu

            I think they create the 5 years gap, because they didn’t want to age batman too much, in case if they want to create more comic or extra game in this universe. Once batman get too old, he is out of his prime, and the dark knight return comic come in play.

          • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

            That’s not an issue. time in these things doesn’t run normally. If that was the case then we’d be in like a third generation of characters. What it coms down to is that people wanted a sequel, but Rocksteady hadn’t finished their ideas on Arkham Knight, so WB Interactive was brought on to do Origins. it was a way to go back and use characters they couldn’t anymore (i.e. The Joker) and introduce new ones as well. This would mean that characters that appeared in the Origins timeline can show up later in the Arkham timeline if they wanted.

          • JasOn Vu

            That is the problem, “origin” just ruin the continuation of the series. The original “Arkham” tries to focus heavily on the comic continue, which have a batman in his late 30 to early 40’s. Origin feel just like a filter, a very bad one too.

          • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

            He’s actually in his mid-30’s in the Arkham timeline. The Trailer for Arkham Knight shows his whole face, and he’s definitely not in his 40’s and if he is he’s aging very well.

          • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

            But here’s the thing. Pinning down events chronologically is futile in comics. Time just doesn’t work normal. Batman in comics is a great example. He’s had 4 Robins, 3 Batgirls, and and he’s still in his 3arly 40’s at the least. And I’m using Pre-New 52 Batman. He would have had to start being Batman at like 20, done that for a few years, got Dick as Robin, a year or two later, add Barbara, and then thing s get crazy. Even if it’s 15 years that pass, it’s not cause Dick hasn’t aged 15 years, nor has Barbara.

        • JasOn Vu

          Origin just ruin all the stories for the Arkham universe. Not only the 5 year gap, but also the villain past and important. I felt it was just a filter till Arkham knight, came out.

          • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

            Pretty Much. But also allowing them to use The Joker, and introduce new people they can use later down the line if the Arkham timeline continues. Or they can tell stories in the Origins timeline that lead up to the current Arkham timeline.

          • Aegon the Conqueror

            Am I the only person who actually enjoyed playing Origins?

          • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

            No. But there are more who disliked it. The issue was the change in developer. They had a good working knowledge of what makes the game fun, but the plot was just kind of thrown together, compared to the tightly written 2 games that came before. Origins came off as paint by numbers. My friend was raving about it when he started it, by the time he was done he said it was underwhelming and monotonous.

  • Aegon the Conqueror

    How is Kevin Conroy not used in every animated Batman project? Seriously how?

    • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

      Simply put, because they don’t want him being the only voice. And he shouldn’t be. He’s great. I love him. He will always be my favorite. But that’s basically saying no one else should try and that’s not fair. Besides Andrea Roman has said she tries to cast voices for specific pieces. He’s already voiced the character in like 8 out of the 20 movies, and for 25+ years between B:TAS, Batman Beyond, Justice League/JLU, and more. I think you need a different actor for a younger Batman, and definitely for a different version. Conroy’s Batman wouldn’t have worked in “The Batman” or “Brave and the Bold,” and while all the animated movie versions are closer to Conroy’s Batman, they want to breathe new life into the character. Nathan Fillion is returning as GL for Throne of Atlantis. Once he’s gotten a bunch of those under his belt I won’t be mad if they find someone else, provided they’re good. Christoper Meloni and David Boreanaz were both very good. As was Josh Keaton in the GL Animated series. But I wasn’t feeling Justin Kirk in War. my point is given the chance people can do well. Look at Kevin Michael Richardson, John DiMaggio, and Troy Baker. All of them were great as the Joker. Are they Mark hamil? No, (Though Baker is intentionally imitating him to keep continuity) but they all did their own thing I loved all their takes.

      • 0ptik

        That said, i really like George Newbern as the voice of Superman (Justice league/JLU, animated movies). However, i was confused to see him in Justice League: War, but as someone else than Superman. It’s like “we dont want you to do Superman, but we still want you around, so here’s Steve Trevor”.

        • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

          Pretty much. She really loves the people she’s worked with over the last decade like Newbern, Conroy, and even Elizabeth Canales (HawkGirl) and Michael Rosenbaum. Others she just likes to bring back whenever she can like Nathan Fillion. And they actually went back and forth with Newbern as Superman for some of the animated flicks, even bringing back Tim Daly once. So they’re definitely on her speed dial. Hell she even used Tim’s son Sam for Superman in Flashpoint.

      • Aegon the Conqueror

        Well it’s different for Mark Hamill seeing as he retired and Baker was bloody fantastic. I also didn’t mind the voice actor for origins cause he portrayed a younger Batman. I should have been more specific. The new 52 movies, Why the hell isn’t he the voice of Batman in them?

        • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

          Because they want these to be separate from the DC animated universe. Conroy is like the Voice of the universe. Using Fillion works cause he hasn’t done any of the show work as GL (he was Vigilante) so it’s a little different with him. Oh actually am liking Jason O’Mara. Though I would’ve loved of they could’ve gotten Bruce Greenwood to reprise the role from Under The Red Hood and Young Justice, O’Mara does a good job in my opinion. Gotta try not to compare to Conroy (which I know is almost impossible) cause its just not fair to the newbies. Lol.

          • Aegon the Conqueror

            Greenwood measures up best imo, but sorry O’Mara just doesn’t cut it for me. Use Conroy for as long as he wants to do it before he pulls a Skywalker on us.

          • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

            Well he slowly is. That’s why he’s been doing less and less Batman voice work. I’m sure it will still be a while, and we’ll still get him in some things, but he’d not going to be the voice for these New 52 inspired versions, and I’m okay with that. I would still rather Greenwood, but O’Mara doesn’t bother me either. It’s not as jarring as Milo Ventimiglia as Wolverine for the anime. I got used to it, and mostly because the look of the character was so different I almost HAD to make a mental adjustment. Steev Blum’s voice coming from that version would be just wrong, and he’s my definitive Wolverine, but eventually I was able to deal with Pretty Boy Logan cause of the story.

  • Aegon the Conqueror

    Five minutes into the film I totally understood you’re pucker reaction. Damnit Conroy’s voice in his first appearance, “his mine!” was simply astounding.

    • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

      LMAO!!! See what I mean! And yeah he was. But seriously Troy Baker NAILS the Joker in this!! I don’t want to give it away but man when he shows up later it just makes me smile all over!

      • Aegon the Conqueror

        Best DC animated movie since Dark Knight Returns part 2.
        But Troy Baker already nailed the Joker in Origins, he was awesome in that too.
        The little plot twist in the third act with Black Spider was bloody brilliant.
        SPOILER!!!!!
        Question was I the only one who felt sad when Shark died?

        • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

          NOPE!! I was actually mad. I was yelling “Hot it again, hit it again!!!”
          And yeah I know he did, but seeing this here was just fantastic. “I brought favors for everbody!!!” I had to put at least part of the line up! I couldn’t help it!

        • 0ptik

          You were surprised with that third act plot twist? Its Batman lol Its what makes him awesome

          • Aegon the Conqueror

            Didn’t say I was surprised, just that I liked it.

          • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

            And it led to some great moments in the movie from Joker!