Well, it's that time again. DC has given us another straight-to-DVD animated movie, and with my recent trip into the city, you know I just had to pick it up. So let's take a look at....
Batman: Assault on Arkham
Directed by Jay Olivia and Ethan Spaulding
Starring the voices of Kevin Conroy, Neal McDonough, Hynden Walch, Matthew Gray Gubler, Troy Baker, CCH Pounder, Greg Ellis, Giancarlo Esposito, and Jennifer Hale.
Backstory: I think I've mentioned I'm really starting to get bored with DC Universe straight-to-video movies. It always seems to be the same ol' Batman stories or the same ol' Superman stories. Shine the spotlight on some of the other heroes for once! So I like how they're trying to sneak in other heroes right now. Like this latest one, Batman: Assault on Arkham. Despite the name "Batman" appearing in the title, and the promise that it's based on the best-selling series of Batman: Arkham video games, it's actually a Suicide Squad movie. The Suicide Squad was originally explained to me as the Dirty Dozen of the DCU. Supervillains, blackmailed by the government into going on black ops missions in exchange for time off their sentences. So how does the Suicide Squad fare in their adaptation to animation?
Plot: The Riddler has hacked into Amanda Waller's private files, and downloaded all of Waller's data on every dirty mission the Suicide Squad has ever done. But, before Waller's elite commandos can take down the Riddler, Batman busts in, captures the Riddler and sends him back to Arkham Asylum. Waller is left no choice, and recruits the latest incarnation of the Suicide Squad, consisting of Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Captain Boomerang, Killer Frost, Black Spider, and King Shark. Their mission: break into Arkham Asylum and recover the information from the Riddler. But once they penetrate the walls of the Asylum, it becomes clear that many members of the team have their own agenda. What is Killer Frost's secret mission? Does Harley Quinn really seek to bust out her old flame the Joker? And can they accomplish everything without raising the attention of Batman?
What I Liked: It's great to finally see someone else take the lead. Deadshot makes a surprisingly capable leader as he takes command of the Suicide Squad and does his best to fulfill the mission. Harley Quinn is nice and crazy, and it's interesting to see her use her feminine wiles. It's also neat to see Batman and the Joker's latest battle literally reduced to a subplot. And the opening sequence is pretty good, too, as we see the members of the Squad getting "recruited."
What I Didn't Like: Not much, actually. The action was good, but you still can't shake the "Been there, done that" feeling that's hanging over a lot of these. And out of all these movies, this one definitely has the most nudity, as Harley Quinn and Killer Frost seem to be taking their tops off a lot.
Final Verdict: A surprisingly good entry in the franchise.
Bonus Features: For bonus features, you get a running commentary from the filmmakers, a featurette on the origins and evolution of Harley Quinn, a featurette on the origins and evolution of Arkham Asylum, 4 bonus cartoons from the various DC animation projects, and a sneak peak at the next film, Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, which looks to be how they're giving us an Aquaman film.