Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Batman: Assault on Arkham

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! The sad reality that there is probably a horrifying fan-fic version of this film on the internet called Batman:  Sexual Assault on Arkham.

Batman: Assault on Arkham – 4 out of 5

Have you played the Arkham games? If you have, you know they are awesome and are probably the best superhero video games ever produced! Because these games are so awesome, DC had to make an animated film that featured this version of Batman and his enemies…and they did with Batman: Assault on Arkham.

All Batman has to do to be cool is be Batman.

The biggest challenge this film faced, once again trying
to convince people that Captain Boomerang is a threat.
The Riddler (Matthew Gray Gubler) has some information that could be detrimental to Amanda Waller (C.C.H. Pounder). Using her resources, she gathers a team of criminals to do her bidding. Deadshot (Neal McDonough), Harley Quinn (Hynden Walch), King Shark (John DiMaggio), Black Spider (Giancarlo Esposito), Killer Frost (Jennifer Hale) and Captain Boomerang (Greg Ellis), are brought in and coerced to cooperate thanks to an explosive implanted in their necks and are told to break into Arkham Asylum and get a thumb drive that The Riddler is in possession of. The only problem is this Suicide Squad is being tailed by Batman (voiced by the only man who should ever voice Batman; Kevin “Fucking” Conroy!) who is on the case of finding a dirty bomb that the Joker (Troy Baker) has hidden somewhere in Gotham.

"Don't push me, Suicide Squad.  My chins are hovering over the button."

We all know there are two kinds of people in the world: People who love Batman and negative people who hate him and people you don’t need in your life. Batman: Assault on Arkham is for those who really, really like Batman and the universe he exists in (especially, the Arkham game universe). It even wins more points for being a little more mature than some Batman endeavors but, some of that maturity ends up becoming gratuitous and recoils right back into a less mature realm—but I’ll get to that later.

Deadshot just punched someone, he's not raising his hand to prove that he's sure...
fuck, that reference is really dated.

Since DC is the king of comic book animation adaptation (say that ten times fast), it’s no surprise that Assault on Arkham is all kinds of awesome. The animation looks fantastic and the character designs not only stay true to the video games that inspired this feature but also have the usual look that has become synonymous with the DC animated films. Sure, this can make for some weird times like Batman looks like a dying alcoholic sometimes…

Oh great, he's going to tell us about how he's an orphan again...

And Killer Frost has gigantic thighs that can clearly crush watermelons…

It's okay to be tired.  Your thighs are freakin' enormous.

But, in the end, all the characters still look great (even though it seems that all men have the same type of body build).

Granted, Bane's body type may be a tad different...

The worst part, knowing that King Shark peed in the water
as he exited.
Additionally, the film has a fantastic acting cast. Right off the bat, the man with the iconic Batman voice and the first person anyone should think of when pondering who the best Batmen were is here. Kevin Conroy is an icon and he continues to prove why he keeps being Batman after almost 20 years. I also really enjoyed Neal McDonough as Deadshot and John DiMaggio as King Shark and I don’t think DiMaggio is capable of being disappointing in any way when it concerns voice acting. For the most part, every actor really nailed the characteristics of each player in this film and was able to capture that feel in their acting. My only complaint would be that Troy Baker is trying to imitate Mark Hamill as the Joker and there’s no Tara Strong as Harley Quinn. Hynden Walch does a great job as Quinn and Baker is decent as the Joker but, like Conroy with Batman, Strong and Hamill set the standard and it’s just hard to come close.

Whenever someone says that Luke Skywalker had a shitty post-Star Wars career, it's
okay to punch them because he did the Joker's voice so well that people can
only hope to imitate.

Like all DC animated films, the movie has got top-notch action and they don’t shy away from the dark, hardcore side of the violence. The film isn’t afraid to show death and blood and, it is in this more adult turn, that makes the film a great watch—however, the more mature approach starts to get annoying in the fact that the film and the entire production that worked on it clearly has a hard-on for getting Harley Quinn and Killer Frost nude.

"It was important for the story." - the inevitable commenter will say.

This happens so often that it starts to get ridiculous and very sexist. This objectifying women has been a problem in comics for a long time and this film does little to help the issue. We already have to deal with the sad reality that literally every male in the film is covered in head-to-toe clothing and armor while Killer Frost wears a bathing suit and thigh-high nylons. Sure, Harley is a little more covered but the designers made sure that we get to see her belly (because that’s a smart choice when you constantly find yourself in battle with a man who hurls razor-sharp, bat-shaped projectiles).

Extra points if Bats can actually get the batarang to stick in her belly button.

While nudity in a film is not necessarily a bad thing, ridiculously gratuitous nudity is. At one point, two characters engage in sex and, in that instance, the nudity seems warranted (which, I might add, is done where all naughty bits are obscured, it’s more hinted nudity…but that’s no better). Making the films more mature is fine and sex comes with maturity, so, in that sense, the nakedness is okay and manageable. However, the other times that the writers and animators fell all over themselves to get some underboob of Harley and Frost just becomes ridiculous. Fuck, at one point they try to smuggle Killer Frost into Arkham by having her pose as a dead body being checked into the morgue…and she does this naked! Why? She’s in a fucking body bag! Why did she have to be naked in there?

Seriously, it made no god damn sense.  Were they really worried that Arkham security
was going to check the clothing status of the body in the body bag?

Comics are no longer a boy’s game and the need for strong (non-sexualized) female characters is out there. Go to any convention and you’ll find there are just as many women as men out there into these superheroes. Shit, the other day a female bank teller was telling me how much she’s a geek and loves the X-Men because I was wearing a Justice League shirt. Wouldn’t it be cool to see that the females in these comics aren’t just hyper-sexualized beings and are actually people who can kick ass without wearing only lingerie and more cleavage than character depth? Anyway, I know some people may be like, “Awww yeah, Harley’s all nude with her boobies out for the open air to kiss,” but I’m like, “Really? Am I watching the writers’ and animators’ weird sexual fetishes play out on screen?”

Some of the other fetishes were just as hard to watch.

Aside from the middle-school boy approach to the female characters in the film, Batman: Assault on Arkham is a fantastic animated film from DC. The action is hardcore, gritty, dark and satisfying and it was cool to see the Suicide Squad get to be the main stars in a Batman film. Additionally, the voice acting is top shelf stuff and, overall, the movie keeps the standards high for DC and their animated features. Plus…it has Batman. Do we really need anything more?

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