Batman: Assault On Arkham (2014)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 8/16/14
Cast: Kevin Conroy, Neal McDonough, Hynden Walch, Troy Baker, Jennifer Hale, Nolan North

The Joker (Troy Baker) has a dirty bomb hidden somewhere in Gotham City, and The Riddler might know something about it. But both of them are locked away in Arkham Asylum. A top secret government agency led by a sinister Amanda Waller wants something else that The Riddler has, so she assembles a suicide squad of convicted criminals to break into Arkham and get it for her. With Batman (Kevin Conroy) on the bomb case, it should be a walk in the park, but Waller's team is full of crazies with their own demented agendas, and Harley Quinn (Hynden Walch) makes a mess of everything when she helps The Joker escape. Will Batman be able to save the city and put both Joker and Waller out of business?

Following on the heels of "Son Of Batman" (2014), this is another shockingly violent entry in the DC Universe animated film series. KGBeast has a hilariously short cameo as one of Waller's recruits, which proves right away that the film isn't messing around. This is serious stuff, and it gets dark, grim, and gruesome VERY quickly. While none of the suicide squad like each other or trust each other, Harley is the one true wild card. I love Harley as a character, but this version of her is overly sexualized to the point where she's reduced to nothing more than a simple psychotic tramp. She lacks the light-hearted charm, sophistication, and tragic sadness of Paul Dini and Bruce Timm's original creation in "Batman: The Animated Series." Interestingly, Batman is only a peripheral character and only shows up when things get really ugly. The fight choreography is superb and the action scenes are fun and exciting to watch. The bold music score is wonderful and Troy Baker does an excellent impersonation of Mark Hamill's Joker, which adds to the fun. The animation is very good, and features a nice blend of 2D and 3D techniques. The character design is also quite good (apart from Harley's tastelessly low riding pants), but it's unusual and a little disconcerting to see Batman's eyes. Definitely worth a look for Batman fans.