3.5 stars (out of 4)
Batman’s name is in the title and he has top billing, but he is not actually the main character in this movie. The Suicide Squad, a group of baddies forced to work together, is the primary focus of the show. Their task is to break into Arkham Asylum to recover stolen information. The Caped Crusader is on a different mission, mostly in the background, but it all intersects neatly eventually.
Assault on Arkham features some really great characterization and clear agency for most of the squad members. I actually loved the frequent in-fighting between them. Generally, when teammates start bickering or throwing fists in the middle of a mission, I find it ridiculous that they would be childish enough to lose focus so easily and at such an inopportune moment. Here though, it happened so naturally as a result of their personalities that it was believable, and also very fun to watch!
Viewing this kind of made me nostalgic for the days when I used to watch Batman: The Animated Series and Batman Beyond on the TV back in the 90s. (Kevin Conroy reprises the role of Batman in this film.)
Assault on Arkham showcases excellent narrative direction and its action scenes are beautifully animated. The content is more mature and dark compared to the old TV programs, including some coarse language, implied sex and nudity, and of course plenty of violence and murder, so this one’s definitely not for the kiddies.
–Reviewed by Bini, July 27, 2012
This was a good movie in general, but suffered by comparison with its superior predecessor, The Dark Knight. The acting was solid throughout, esp. by Michael Caine, and there were no glaring holes in the storyline. There were nice bits of humour, mainly in the first half of the movie. I thought the villain, Bane, was appropriately menacing and I even thought his strange accent added to his menace (and I recall thinking that he didn’t seem to be a very scary villain when I saw the trailer).
I had some difficulty following the plot toward the end because I couldn’t make out what the characters were saying during several crucial moments (also may have been because I was sleep-deprived). I thought the final assault by the good guys seemed somewhat uninspired – the police officers just seemed to charge into battle without any apparent strategy. Also, Blake’s (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) argument with the guard at the bridge seemed anti-climactic (esp. when intercut with the police officers being mown down in battle).
While I was watching the movie, I had trouble figuring out what the bad guys’ plan was – it just seemed weird that they would put enormous resources into keeping Gotham under siege for 3 months, when their ultimate goal is just to nuke it in the end. I guess the whole purpose of the siege was to torture Batman? And for 3 months they fed all the police officers trapped underground? Even if they didn’t feed them (let’s say food was snuck to them by good guys), why wouldn’t they kill them?
I need to go back and watch the first movie because I can’t remember why Ducard (Liam Neeson) wants to destroy Gotham. Wasn’t it because the city had been overrun with Mafia and corruption? But at the beginning of this movie, those problems had largely been dealt with successfully… Anyway, I’m willing to suspend disbelief on this one and chalk it up to madness on the part of the bad guys.
All in all, these were relatively minor quibbles in a creative storyline (especially for a super-hero movie). I liked the references to the French Revolution and the statement Christopher Nolan makes by comparing current day America to pre-Revolutionary France (I certainly didn’t expect biting social commentary in a super-hero movie). I will definitely miss the dream team of Christian Bale, Michael Caine, and Morgan Freeman in the inevitable future Batman reboots.