Marvel may be dominating the box office at the moment, but when it comes to animated features, they are no match for DC’s output. There have been a couple of “okay” Marvel animated movies, but almost every DC animated feature I’ve seen has been total quality. The last DC animated movie movie that was covered on this site, and it might have even been the last DC animated movie released, was Son of Batman. It was pretty good, though admittedly not my favorite. It was also much different than the graphic novel it was based on, but that happens a lot, and most of the time it’s okay. I think my favorite DC animated feature is The Dark Knight Returns, an adaptation of Frank Miller’s superb graphic novel. They’ve released quite a bit, though, and even more is on the horizon, including a new Justice League movie, that acts as a team-up movie, as well as an Aquaman origins film as well. There is a preview of that as an added bonus on this disc. Assault on Arkham is a team-up movie, technically based on the Arkham video games, but also drawing inspiration from Suicide Squad. It puts together a ragtag team of DC regulars, including Deadshot, Harley Quinn, King Shark, Captain Boomerang, Black Spider, and Killer Frost. Also prominent in this movie is, of course, Batman, as well as The Joker and The Riddler. There are some fun cameos as well, if you pay attention, including an appearance from Scarecrow and The Penguin.
When the government teams up a group of supervillains with the code name Suicide Squad and forces them to break into Arkham Asylum to bring back top secret information the Riddler has stolen, Batman soon becomes involved. But things go from bad to worse when one of the Squad (Harley Quinn) frees the Joker, who has the means to not only blow up the asylum, but most of Gotham City as well.
Like all team-up stories, there is cameos from familiar faces all throughout. The movie takes place in Arkham Asylum, after all, where all of the DC villains wind up at one point or another. The main focus of the story is almost always on the Suicide Squad, as well as Batman, The Riddler and The Joker. Some of the complaints that I have read, mostly from the usual haunts where you will find such thing, as well as people that illegally downloaded the movie, is that there are too many villains in the movie, but honestly, the focus remains on The Joker and The Riddler. Everybody else is just making an appearance. The only cameo that really plays any kind of important role in the story is The Penguin, and all he does is make the arrangements for the group to make it into the asylum undetected. Yeah, there are a lot of villains in this movie, but this was meant as a fan-service more than anything else. I personally thought it was cool to catch a glimpse of someone like Scarecrow, that usually goes ignored. He does nothing to drive the plot forward, but when the bad guys are let out of the cage, he joins in on the fray with everybody else. To be blunt, this is a nitpick, and nothing more. There is plenty to enjoy in Assault on Arkham, and almost nothing to dislike. I have also read complaints from people that this movie is sexist, based on its treatment of the female characters, but come on, people, look at the female characters that are in this movie. I don’t think the females are treated any more poorly than the males. There is some sexual content, which was interesting. I don’t care if she’s animated, I think I’m in love with Harley Quinn.
As long as you expect less of a Batman movie, and more of a DC character movie, you’ll have a good time. Batman does show up, and he does kick some serious ass, so it’s not like they’re leaving you with blue balls. WB’s Blu-ray release of the film is somewhat impressive. It looks and sounds perfect, as you can mostly expect from WB, and especially a WB animated feature, and it comes with several extra features. My one complaint is, I wish they would have done character featurettes for all of the characters, like the one they included for Harley Quinn. I love the fact that DC always includes 3 or 4 episodes of Classic DC animated TV shows, but I would have gladly traded that for a BIO featurette covering each of the core characters of the film. Other than that, which is a nitpick in-and-of-itself, WB and DC’s Blu-ray release of Batman: Assault on Arkham is a solid release, and highly recommended.