This weekend at SDCC I was treated with an exclusive premiere of the new Batman animated movie, Batman: Assault on Arkham.
In the latest Batman animated movie, Kevin Conroy (Batman The Animated Series), Troy Baker (Batman: Arkham Origins, The Last of Us), John Dimaggio (Batman: Under the Red Hood, Futurama), and a slew of others enter the Arkham universe created by Rocksteady for a mature themed Batman adventure. Yes the movie is animated, but this isn’t a Saturday morning cartoon.
Characters: First and foremost, Assault on Arkham is a villain heavy movie, and does a great job of exploring most of these characters. The movie handles the Joker, Harley, and Deadshot really well. Deadshot was extremely well established without having to do some origin story, and the relationship between Harley and Joker is definitely explored in adult ways. Other villains don’t fare as well as the story centered ones do and come off feeling like characters that were given the short end of the stick in favor of making them disposable. I won’t name names for the sake of spoilers, but some villains feel almost like carbon copies of other Batman villains.
Batman plays a smaller role, but is still the dark knight through and through. Kevin Conroy is impeccable as Batman.
Story: To sum it up quickly but not spoiling everything, someone assembles a team of Batman’s villains to break into Arkham Asylum and retrieve a bomb the Joker as put somewhere in the city. This becomes a race against the clock when Batman learn’s he and the villains are after the same thing. Again, Batman is not center stage in this movie, the villains are. The story was intriguing, original, and really let you explore the motives and actions of each villain. The movie handles the villains (for the most part) with care which allows the audience to really buy in and root for them. We’re also challenged as a audience to question what makes a hero/villain. Doing this in a Batman movie, where the universe is never black and white was a great touch and definitely paid off in spades. The story balanced comedy, witty banter, and action incredibly well. Lastly, a new Batman weakness is shown in a very clever way, allowing you to really get behind the villains.
Animation and Acting: Every voice was on point and the animation was superb. Particularly, the animators really didn’t shy away from much and the dialog added to the grounded setting that is the Arkham universe. The details of the characters, the Joker especially, were fleshed out and added to each character. The character and animation design really brought a feel for grittiness and atmosphere that doesn’t always translate in animated movies. Aside from one scene where the CGI looks as dated as the 90’s Spiderman cartoon intro, the animation is fantastic. There are a few lines of dialog that seems a bit lazy or jarring, but those are few and far between, and the actors’ collective chemistry more than makes for any shortcomings in the dialog.
Batman: Assualt on Arkham is available for digital download on July 29th, and DVD/Blu Ray on August 12th
-Great voice acting from all -Some characters aren’t fully utilized
-Original and captivating story -Dialog occasionally misses the mark
-Watching the bad guys do bad things
-Kevin Conroy IS Batman
– “Denzel, what have they done to you?”