Friday, August 05, 2016

My Review of Assault On Arkham (2014)

Written by Heath Corson
Directed by Jay Oliva & Ethan Spaulding

The Joker: "I'm here bitches and I've got favours for everyone."

With today being the release of Suicide Squad (and the next thing I'll be blogging about), I decided it was time to do a review of the animated movie version of one of the most dysfunctional and ever changing task force of baddies and antiheroes in the DC universe.

The movie opens with Amanda Waller (CCH Pounder) trying to apprehend the ever gloating Riddler (Matthew Gray Gubler) only for Batman (Kevin Conroy) to intervene, so she goes for the offensive and decides to recruit a certain group for her own agenda.

The group in question comprises of Deadshot (Neal McDonough), Harley Quinn (Hynden Walch), Killer Frost (Jennifer Hale), King Shark (John DiMaggio), Captain Boomerang (Jonny Rees), Black Spider (Giancarlo Esposito) and the short lived, KGBeast (Nolan North) who Waller instructs into breaking into Arkham in order to retrieve one of the Joker's (Troy Baker) dirty bombs while also tasking Killer Frost with the side mission of killing the Riddler for good measure.

Of course with this motley crew, things go pear shaped far too quickly. KGBeast doesn't even make it out of ARGUS without Waller shooting him and the animosity between Deadshot and Boomerang ranges from both rather amusing (I always prefer Floyd to George) to somewhat sabotaging as some of their worst bickering happens during moments when they really needed to get out of Arkham to be honest.

Then there's the whole love 'triangle' of sorts between Deadshot/Harley/Joker. It could've been a terrible subplot in lesser hands but here, it's fairly decent. Harley does get to have some sexy times with Deadshot but throughout the movie she alternates between wanting to kill her Puddin' and then of course, trying to betray the team in order to save him and allow his diabolical plan come to fruition.

The addition of Batman though gives the movie a little bit of a morality boost (although most of the 'villains' are drawn sympathetically enough here). Namely the Batman is added into the movie to ultimately stop the Joker's massive case of tainted love, lecture Waller on the extreme lengths she's willing to take to get results and also to do battle with Harley twice in the movie. It's actually Deadshot who gets the chance to have a near death battle with the Joker during the movie's climax when he doesn't later try to get back at Waller in a fairly ambiguous closing moment.

As for the rest of the characters, Waller is at her stereotypically ruthless and the Riddler is certainly happy to revel in his own cleverness, even when hoisted on his own petard. The surprise though is how well both Killer Frost and King Shark are and their rapport in the movie is oddly sweet. Black Spider shows a little bit of a moral compass but he's given too little screen time to truly standout as a character. Of course though, this movie solely belongs to Harley, Deadshot and Joker and all three are on fine form in this one.

- Cameos galore in this movie with the Penguin, Zsasz, Poison Ivy, Two Face, Scarecrow and Bane all popping up at different points as well as allusions to the likes of Killer Moth and Mr Freeze.
- There are at least three allusions to Batman Returns as well as several comics and other related media. Have fun spotting them.
- For a cartoon movie, it's definitely pretty dark in parts.
- This movie is set within the Arkham games universe.

Assault On Arkham is certainly one of DC's most successful animated features. An interesting story with the best character choices, some nice bits of grittiness laced with the right bouts of humour as well. It's going to be interesting to see how the live action version with similar and different characters will fare compared to this movie.

Rating: 8 out of 10

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