BATMAN: ESCAPE FROM ARKHAM isn’t really a Batman movie. Warner Bros. isn’t going to tell you that (and they’re certainly going to play up the fact that Batman is indeed in it for marketing purposes), but I will.
“Readers, this isn’t a Batman film.” There you go.
Despite the fact that it’s set in the world of the ARKHAM videogames, it’s not related to any of the stories or events from any of those Batman games either. In fact, I’m not exactly sure just where it fits chronologically. It’s definitely after ARKHAM ORIGINS and before ARKHAM CITY (and the yet to be released ARKHAM KNIGHT). But honestly, it’s ARKHAM timeline is insignificant; the only thing “ARKHAM” about it is the film’s main setting.
What then exactly, is B:AoA? It’s a Suicide Squad film guest-starring Batman (voiced again by Kevin Conroy to bridge the continuity between the games and this movie) set, mostly, in Gotham City.
And that’s TOTALLY OK by me as I’ve long been an advocate of a live-action Suicide Squad movie. Perhaps this is Warner Bros. kinda-sorta testing the waters for such a project in the near future. Here’s B:AoA’s plot in a nutshell…
Amanda Waller enlists a ragtag group of DCU villains – Harley Quinn (for Batman purposes, surely), Deadshot, King Shark, Captain Boomerang, Killer Frost, and Black Spider – to infiltrate Arkham Asylum and take out Edward “The Riddler” Nygma. Why does Waller want Nygma dead? Well, he stole something very important from her and she wants it back. Also, “enlists” might not be the best term to describe Waller's soliciting the Suicide Squad. “Blackmail” isn’t right either. He’s the deal: She’s placed some sort of irremovable mini-bomb on the back of their necks which if detonated – by Waller, of course – will blow their damn heads off!
That’ll motivate you to accept a job offer, right?
So why is Batman in this movie? Despite the fact that he’s actually a supporting player (Deadshot is clearly the main character), The Dark Knight plays an important role and does a lot of cool Batmanning over the course of movie. Also, he’s not after the Suicide Squad; he’s after The Joker (again). The reason? Well, the Arkham-imprisoned Clown Prince of Crime has got a-hold of a dirty bomb and he plans to explode it in Gotham City.
Yeah, The Joker with a dirty bomb will definitely get The Batman’s attention. ANYWAY…
Despite the fact that the Suicide Squad and Batman have different agendas – and he’s a good guy and they’re all criminals – everything comes together nicely thanks to screenwriter Heath Corson and veteran DC animated film director Jay Olivia (who shared duties on this one with Ethan Spaulding). Not only is the story good and tight, B:AoA just might have the best looking and smooth animations of any of the previous DCU animated film endeavors.
When it comes to B:AoA’s voice acting, it’s yet again another top notch effort by the entire cast – who, of course, were hired and directed by the legendary Andrea Romano. While we know what Kevin Conroy brings to Batman, the standout to me was Neal McDonough as Deadshot. As I said, Deadshot is the film’s main character, so perhaps my “standout” designation is due to hearing his work more than the others. Regardless, he’s good and so is the rest of the cast.
Real quick before I sum up and give a grade to B:AoA. Fans of the ARKHAM videogames are going to get a kick out of this film. Lots of the stuff from that Bat-universe – including Batman’s classic fight moves, the layout of Arkham Asylum, and much more – is included in this film.
Oh yeah, one more quick thing before I conclude this review: B:AoA is not – let me repeat – IS NOT – for kids. I’m not saying that this should be an R-rated film, but it’s definitely pushing it rating-wise. Frankly, this is a film for adults – and there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, I applaud DC and Warner Bros. for allowing the filmmakers to actually make an animated film for grownups! But please, don’t buy B:AoA for your young kids, OK? It’s got just about everything – sex ("Yahtzee!"), disturbing violence, and bad language – that they don’t need to hear or see.
BATMAN: ESCAPE FROM ARKHAM might not be a “Batman Movie” like the fine folks at Warner Bros. want us to think. Hey, they’re shaking their moneymaker because, well, Batman is indeed the world’s most popular single comic book superhero. Regardless, this is one of the best DCU “PG-13” animated films to date.
Buy it, watch it, and enjoy it. But DO NOT show it to your young children! If you do, Floyd Lawton might pay you a visit. - Bill "Jett" Ramey
JETT'S GRADE: A
BATMAN: ASSAULT ON ARKHAM is set in the BATMAN: ARKHAM
video game universe and will be released on 8/12/14 as part of
Warner Bros. and DC's Batman 75 celebration.
A life-long Batman fan, Bill "Jett" Ramey
is the founder of BATMAN-ON-FILM.COM.
He likes Elvis, Rock-N-Roll,
The University of Texas, cold beer,
Dallas Cowboys Football, and of course...
He resides in the GREAT state of TEXAS with his lovely wife, three kids, and two Boston Terriers.