What is Assault on Arkham?

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The movie begins by dragging the Batman mythos into the modern age by Riddler meeting his match not to the encyclopedic knowledge of the world’s greatest detective but in the same old way that everyone answers any question, by google. However before Chekmate can be rewarded for their google-fu Batman sweeps in via a hectic fight scene powered by the righteous fury of all people who had to go and learn things the old fashioned way instead of installing the latest app. This sees him triumph and take the Riddle in for a good long stay at hotel Arkham, the mad house for all of Batman’s most dangerous foes.

Unfortunately for Batman he’s not dealing with some ninja bats this time  but instead must contend with CCH Pounder back as Amanda Waller, perhaps the only woman who can properly portray her both inside and outside of animation and certainly not say Oprah who couldn’t portray her in a flash youtube video. Amanda Waller who has a fury for anyone who hasn’t learnt the lesson about capes and with the attitude that the ends can and often do justify the means thus she uses the power of montage to acquire a team of villains and mercenaries such as Dum Dum Dungan, Starfire, Aquaman, Dan Dare, Gustavo ‘Gus’ Fring, Commander Shepard and Nolan North. Their job is to break their way into Arkham, claim the flash drive in Riddler’s cane and get out before Waller blows the bombs at the base of their necks for taking too long.

Okay as fun as that movie would be we’re instead treated to a collection of rogues and misfists better described as the c-list of the DC Universe, at best. All but the hard-core will have trouble identifying all of the suicide squad in the picture which gives a great sense of drama on who if any will make it back in one piece, well except for DC’s answer to Deadpool complete with breasts Harley Quinn who is perhaps trying to keep the economy afloat through sheer number of cosplays alone. This whole uncertainty is highlighted by the execution of one right after the opening credits just to show Waller means business. From here the team are air dropped into Arkham where the Jokers ex Harley Quinn uses Batman’s eternal vigilance to get herself thrown into a cell where she can aid the infiltration of the others. Of course the idea of an ex like Mister J across the way complicates matters somewhat.

The first thing to mention about the movie is that it is roughly tied into the Arkham Asylumn universe portrayed in the computer games out on everything but your microwave oven. Now this movie supposedly acts as a prequel to the series which means that as someone who has only ever gotten around to playing the first one I had trouble actually linking the two together other than a few set pieces under the Asylum where a few run and gun chases take place. However these feel more like Easter eggs the same way the joker mask from the Dark Knight that flies across the screen or the name drops two lines apart at the end of the movie. Well Kevin Conroy is back as the Batman too, but to be fair he hasn’t really been away for us to miss him much.

The crew that make up the Suicide Squad are a good mix lead by Deadshot who quickly tangles with Harley Quinn, sporting a descent compromise between her classic costume and the stripperific costume from the nu52, and Captain Boomerang though as you can guess both in different ways.  In fact most of the crew starts bouncing off each other in a great display of dry wit, puns and put downs that had me genuinely for the first time in a long time laughing at an animated DC work. Now I’m not necessarily saying this is the best of the animated movies but after the dry run we’ve had recently of old batman stories, old batman stories split into two discs to ring a few extra coins from your purse, a poor adaption of a Batman story and one of the worst Justice Leagues  since they cried for justice means that I’ve remembered why I started watching these movies in the first place.

It’s also one of the first in a long time that felt like it suited its run time, not dragging too long and not feeling too short though I probably wouldn’t mind a sequel especially if we branch out to the rest of the world around them. As much fun as it was to dance around Gotham in the shadow of the bat there is only so many times you can see someone doing a descent Hamill as the joker and the Batman unfortunately doesn’t hang around the shadows too long and he gets in the way of the raw double crossing villainy of the suicide squad who don’t fall victim to the old trope of becoming the good guy in the face of some bigger evil. Which of course eventually comes along in the form of Jokers dirty bomb that he’s gonna use to blow up over half of Gotham.

Spoiler

Fortunately it’s equipped with a timer from the same place as Galaxy Quest.

It’s not too much of a spoiler as they set this up as a prequel to Arkham Asylum and that’s a shame.

This would be great movie for anyone who enjoys heist movies or superhero types and especially likes humour.

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