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Batman: Assault on Arkham (Blu-ray Review)

9 Aug, 2014 By: John Latchem

Street 8/12/14
$19.98 DVD, $24.98 Blu-ray
Rated 'PG-13' for violence, sexual content and language.
Voices of Kevin Conroy, Neal McDonough, Hynden Walch, Matthew Gray Gubler, Troy Baker, C.C.H. Pounder, Greg Ellis, Giancarlo Esposito, John DiMaggio, Jennifer Hale, Nolan North.

Although Batman: Assault on Arkham is based on the "Arkham Asylum" video grame franchise, one need not be a gamer in order to fully enjoy it. Indeed, while the movie seemingly picks up after the events of Arkham Origins, it really plays like a solid standalone adventure for Batman and his rogues gallery.

Strictly speaking, it isn't all that much of a Batman movie, as much as it focuses on a group of baddies called the Suicide Squad. The story deals with their attempts to break into Arkham Asylum to murder the Riddler, forced to do so by government agent Amanda Waller (C.C.H. Pounder). When the execution of their plan goes awry, Batman (Kevin Conroy) figures out what's going on and arrives on the scene to stop them, while at the same time trying to figure out where the Joker planted a dirty bomb.

The animation is sharp and the action is edited in a highly stylized way, with the break-in depicted in the finest tradition of heist movies. There's some nice character interactions among the villains, which is the primary source of whatever subversive humor in which the movie chooses to indulge.

Assault on Arkham is also a movie that stretches the boundaries of its 'PG-13' rating. The violence here is pretty brutal, not just for an animated film but for a Batman film in general. There's even a sex scene that would be out of place in most superhero movies, but seems perfectly appropriate here, for as edgy as this film is trying to be.

A nice package of extras consists of a featurette about the comic book history of Arkham Asylum and another about the Harley Quinn character, an in-depth preview of the upcoming Justice League: Throne of Atlantis animated movie, an engaging commentary with several of the filmmakers, and bonus cartoons showcasing the characters in the movie.

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