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Reviewer:   Jim "JR" Rutkowski
Directed by:
Jay Oliva, Ethan Spaulding
Written by:
Screenplay by Heath Corson, Based on the characters created by Bill Finger, Bob Kane and others.
Starring the Voices of:
Kevin Conroy, Neal McDonough, Hynden Walch
Length:   75 minutes
Released:   072914-direct to dvd
Rated PG-13 for violence, sexual content and language
"Naming a movie about the Suicide Squad something like Batman: Assault on Arkham is disingenuous at best and false advertising at worst..."

I recently watched Batman: Assault on Arkham. Let me rephrase. I didn't so much watch it as I endured it. A friend of mine asked me if I had seen it yet. I felt my eye twitch a little like some response in a Pavlov experiment and I said that I had. He asked if it was any good. I told him, ďI donít think so. I think it might be terrible.Ē He was surprised by this answer for a couple of reasons. Number one, itís odd to not be sure of whether or not you enjoyed something as innocuous as a direct-to-DVD movie about Batman. You either do or you do not. Itís not like itís Faust and you have to spend a semester examining all the metaphors and making connections to your inner psyche. Number two, historically, I really like Batman. Really I do. I even saw Batman and Robin on opening night, and while I fully understood why everyone in the world thought it was a terrible movie, I recognized that it had more in common with Adam West than Frank Miller by design. So when my friend asked me why I wasnít sure, I realized that my issue was more about what had come before than what was offered now.

Batman: Assault on Arkham is an animated movie starring the Suicide Squad, very loosely based on the video game series (that has remarkably almost nothing to do with the Suicide Squad) by Rocksteady that is in turn based on over 75 years of Batman continuity in comics, television and film. When I say ďvery loosely,Ē itís because the only similarities between this movie and those very good games are the fact that they take place in Arkham Asylum. Seriously. If you are looking for an adaptation, keep looking. Iím not sure why you would want an adaptation anyway. Those games are great if you like Batman. Just go play them.

Naming a movie about the Suicide Squad something like Batman: Assault on Arkham is disingenuous at best and false advertising at worst because, make no mistake, this is not a Batman movie. Batman is in this movie for roughly 1/4 of itís runtime. Thatís an estimate. I could do the math and come up with an actual metric for you, but that would require another viewing, and that is just not going to happen.

So, Suicide squad: The movie tells the story of Amanda Waller throwing together a team of DC Comics villains and giving them the top secret mission of busting into Arkham Aysylumís property room to retrieve a thumb drive hidden in the Riddlerís question mark cane. The script never fully explains what exactly is on the thumb drive that she wants so badly. That should give you a sense of how important it is to the actual plot, which seems to really just be about having Harley Quinn find excuses to get naked. Let me be clear here. I donít have an issue with nudity. Ordinarily, but in the context of this animated feature, it comes off as exploitive and cheap. The kind of thing I would expect in a 15-year-old boyís fan fiction Ė NOT the officially sanctioned and produced product of the Warner Bros./DC Comics animation department. This sort of crap just spawns all kinds of weird fan art, which while it is momentarily harmless fun to look at on the internet, sort of seems like the kind of thing people get all bent out of shape about come cosplay season at Comic-Con. There's even a scene involving a hint of necrophilia. Yes. A DC animated movie with a necrophilia gag. Wonderful.

This version of the Suicide Squad is based on their New 52 incarnation. That right there should have been enough to give me the tip-off that this was not going to be in my wheelhouse. I find the NEW 52 books to be a desperate attempt by DC to make comic books edgy and more ďadultĒ by having iconic characters with decades of child appeal swear, throw up the occasional middle finger and present side boob whenever possible. While a book like Suicide Squad has every right to be whatever Jim Lee wants it to be and can certainly aim at an older demographic, it really doesnít seem right to me to then market that product as if itís something else. Something like a Batman animated movie starring Kevin Conroy or an adaptation of a critically acclaimed video game series. Hey kids ! Letís watch that new Batman movie!

The voice direction here is very confusing to me as well. Andrea Romano has done an amazing job directing vocal talent on countless DC animated projects well before this one, but here, well, this one really feels like a big miss. Deadshot is played by Neal McDonough doing his best Kevin Conroy as Batman impression. This maybe would not be an issue if not for the seven minutes of Conroy as Batman in the movie that makes you wonder, ďHey, are Deadshot and Batman twins separated at birth? Is this like Fight Club? Is Batman really a figment of Deadshotís imagination?Ē If they were going to have Deadshot sound like Conroy, they might have been better served to have Batman sound like Christian Bale. Itís not like he says anything in this movie that matters anyway. It wouldnít matter if you couldnít understand him.

Video Game voice-over artist Troy Baker seems to have been directed to play Mark Hamill doing the Joker instead of finding his own take on the character. I honestly assumed that it was Hamill until I saw the ending credits. Why would you not hire Mark Hamill if you wanted Mark Hamill? Did he refuse to be associated with this terribly dumb and almost instantly forgettable series of loud explosions and soft-core exploitive titillation? If so, good for him. Hopefully, Kevin Conroy starts being as selective.

Also on the Suicide Squad roster is the Black Spider. Sigh. 2014 and this guy still has ďblackĒ in front of his moniker just in case you didnít know. Just in case you were not aware that the gentleman wearing the mask to conceal his identity was in fact Ö black. Do you think there is an alternate universe out there someplace where this movie is called Caucasian Batman: Assault on Arkham ? I guess itís not THAT big of a deal, but considering the fact that literally no one even knows who this character is, it might have been a good opportunity to drop it down to Spider or something else ó or maybe just lose the character entirely because he sucks regardless of his race.

I realize this is more of a rambling rant than an actual review, but, sadly, This is what the movie inspired in me. Maybe itís because of stuff like this: At one point Black Spider needs to create a diversion in Arkhamís kitchen. He does so by taking a pile of forks and putting them in a microwave. He then starts the microwave. I think he sets it to 50 seconds. Maybe 30. Who cares? It doesnít matter except for the fact that nothing really happens until the microwave timer reaches zero. Then it explodes as if forks and a microwave combined make a bomb. Just in case you missed that, the microwave was treated as if it were a time bomb. Am I being nitpicky? I don't think so. Itís dumb. Itís a stupid plot device dropped here by a writer who knows better, but must be assuming, ďAh, who cares? Itís a stupid Batman movie.Ē Well, I care. I donít want this stuff to be stupid or lazy, because titles like Batman: Mask of the Phantasm and Batman: Under The Red Hood, and even the more recent adaptation of the seminal caped crusader classic Ė an ACTUAL adaptation I might add ó The Dark Knight Returns show that these can be excellent movies that appeal to a wide audience without pandering.

The bottom line here is that I am disappointed it has come to this. We used to be able to say that the DC animated releases were top notch. These last few have really hurt that reputation. If I was Warner's animated division, Iíd be begging Bruce Timm and Paul Dini to get back in the proverbial Batcave and help right this ship. You have every right to enjoy this. You have every right to your own opinion on whether or not this type of DC Animated property works for you. Understand that I am not trying to change your mind or tell you that you are wrong for liking this. I personally do not like the direction these animated movies have been headed and I prefer my soft-core anime titillation where it belongs.

In Sailor Moon. (rim shot).

BATMAN: ASSAULT ON ARKHAM © 2014 Warner Premiere Home Video
All Rights Reserved

Review © 2014 Alternate Reality, Inc.



" animated film that stands shoulder to shoulder with Timm's original animated Batman series" (JR)


ď.... Batman fans should be pleased, and admirers of Nolan's version of the character should definitely check this out." (JR)


"... adapts Miller's tale with excellent animation and first-rate voice work-finding a nice balance..."  (JR)