Assault on Arkham
Batman: Assault on Arkham 2014
There were two straight-to-home-video superhero movies from the two big comic book companies that came out about the same time on streaming services, and depending on how you look at it I chose poorly by watching Iron Man and Captain America: Heroes United first, or just saved the best one for last. The only thing I knew about this movie was that it was based on the recent Arkham video game series which I haven’t played. I had no idea that it was more specifically about the Suicide Squad which I had only just heard about earlier this year when they were teased in an episode of Arrow. Many of these DC Animated movies have been getting darker and darker, and while this movie has plenty of moments that border on the “R” side of its “PG-13” rating, they are handled with a lot of fun. It also helps to set the tone right from the beginning with the introduction to the suicide squad themselves that feels like it could have been pulled from a 70’s cop show. I loved this movie from start to finish and it’s another quality title in the series.
If you’re not familiar with the Suicide Squad, it’s a group of super criminals brought together by government agent Amanda Waller who you may have seen as President Luthor’s assistant in Batman/Superman: Public Enemies. They are all equipped with a GPS tracker and a small explosive at the base of their neck which will remove their head at the press of a button, and several heads do get removed during the course of this movie. The two main members of this suicide squad are: Deadshot who I didn’t know too much about, and Harley Quinn who is one of the best parts of this movie and one of my favorite Batman villains ever. There are also a few others who I had never heard of before, like the cold spewing femme fatale Killer Frost, the giant, beastly King Shark, the spec-ops styled Black Spider, the Aussie gimmick Captain Boomerang, and the rather uninteresting brute KGBeast.
I mentioned that this once again skirts the line of PG-13 as has many of these DC Animated movies which is something that I both applaud them for, but also makes me disappointed when it comes to the marketing from retailers which have nothing to do with Warner Bros, but often fall into the kids and/or family sections. I already mentioned the multiple head explosions, there’s also a fair amount of blood even though nothing’s overly graphic, and there’s a couple scenes of nudity, showing off as much of Harley and Killer Frost as is possible while still keeping it PG-13. All that being said, I did still watch this with my 7 year old daughter Jena, and she wasn’t bothered at all by any of it and also thankfully didn’t catch all of it like the sex scene. And as a side note, this movie will make you want to put “Yahtzee!” into your vocabulary. She also didn’t catch that at the introduction of Harley, there is an ear in her mouth.
The tone of this movie is one of the best parts, there is a great sense of humor throughout which is usually brought on by Harley Quinn. There are also some great jokes from other members as well, such as a great subtle knock on Batman and Robin when Killer Frost says something “gives her the chills” she immediately gets called out for making “ice puns? Really?” Amanda Waller also gets a few great moments like when she asks Batman if he’s going to start a blog to expose her. This is a great companion to the recent release Guardians of the Galaxy, as it has a similar sense of humor, it also includes a group of misfits that end up together, the only difference is that most of them don’t actually come together at the end, and many of them don’t make it out alive. There is also a great heist mentality as they are all trying to break into the heavily guarded Arkham Asylum and there are the requisite double crosses and misdirections as everyone has their own motivations that overlap each other in many great ways. Besides the objective that Waller tells the Suicide Squad about, there’s also her true objective which is hidden from most of them, Harley Quinn herself has her own objective with the Joker who is currently imprisoned within Arkham, and of course Batman does have a surprisingly minor presence, but is around to get to the bottom of everything. There are even a couple surprise twists that show up towards the end of the movie, and even though it’s not too hard to see them coming, they still work very well.
It all comes together with great writing, and voice acting. Kevin Conroy once again comes back to voice Batman, and while it’s not Tara Strong playing Harley Quinn, Hynden Walch does a great job with it. Even some of the more minor characters like King Shark and Killer Frost get some nice development with a subtle relationship that actually makes you start to root for them. I also really like the animation in this, it has a slightly angular style to it and all the tech is well integrated. This was a lot of fun and it easily has made it into my top 5 DC Animated films. If you’re a fan of DC Animation, be sure to check this one out. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.