Batman: Assault on Arkham — The Review

2014 has been a big year for DC Entertainment, specifically with its DC Universe Original Animated Movies. First, Justice League: War released, the follow up to Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, and the first Justice League movie to take place in the New 52 universe. This was followed by Son of Batman, an animated movie based off the graphic novel, Batman and Son.

On August 12, DC will release Batman: Assault on Arkham, which is the first movie to be based off the universe created in the Batman: Arkham video games.

Of course, Batman: Assault on Arkham is available on VOD through Amazon, Apple, Google Play, and VUD. If one is too gripped by anticipation to wait for it to release on DVD or Blu-ray (as I was), they can purchase it digitally now.

Too often do people mistakenly assume that because it is an animated movie, it must be for kids. Batman: Assault on Arkham is not for kids. In fact, most of the recent animated movies released by DC are rated PG-13 for a reason.

The language is not for kids. The partial nudity and sexual innuendo is not for kids. Even the graphic nature of the violence is not for kids. These movies are targeted at a more mature audience and seldom do they disappoint.

Whether one buys the movie through VOD now or waits until it comes out on DVD/Blu-ray, Batman: Assault on Arkham is a must see, especially for fans of the Batman: Arkham video games or the Batman franchise as a whole.

The movie stars the legendary voice of Batman, Kevin Conroy, who is considered by many fans to be the true voice of the Caped Crusader. Unfortunately, Conroy was not joined by Mark Hamill, who is equally respected for his voice work as the Joker. Instead, the Joker is voiced by Troy Baker, who has done voice work for both DC and Marvel, and first replaced Mark Hamill in Batman: Arkham Origins.

Baker maintains the voice of the Joker that fans have come to know and love so well that it nearly sounds like Hamill’s Joker, but at the same time there are certain qualities to his performance that make the character his. If anyone is going to replace the great Mark Hamill, Baker certainly sounds like he is more than capable of filling his shoes.

Similarly, after voicing Batman for over two decades, it is reasonable to assume that Conroy may soon retire, leaving the cape and cowl to someone else. Jason O’Mara, who voiced Batman in Justice League: War and Son of Batman, and will star in Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, is proving to be a worthy successor.

Batman: Assault on Arkham also stars CCH Pounder, who has been a go-to voice for Amanda Waller since the Justice League animated TV series that ran from 2001 to 2006, Neal McDonough (Justified, Captain America: The First Avenger) as Deadshot, Hayden Walch (Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, Teen Titans) as Harley Quinn, John DiMaggio (Futurama, Batman: Under The Red Hood) as King Shark, Jennifer Hale (Justice League, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes) as Killer Frost, and well-known voice actor Nolan North as the Penguin.

In Batman: Assault on Arkham, Amanda Waller, who is in charge of Task Force X (more commonly known as the Suicide Squad), sends the team of imprisoned villains into Gotham to sneak into Arkham Asylum and retrieve top-secret information from the Riddler. The team is composed of Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Killer Frost, King Shark, Black Spider, and Captain Boomerang.

As it is often the case with Waller, nothing is ever 100 percent what it seems. There are a handful of people in the DC Universe whose role as hero or villain is never completely clear. Waller is the Iron Lady of the DC Universe, a well-intentioned extremist who is often portrayed as working toward the greater good (in the end), but can incorporate villainous means to achieve this end. She isn’t past getting revenge through any means either.

While the Suicide Squad is breaking into Arkham, Batman is hunting down a bomb the Joker planted somewhere in the city, a bomb that could kill half of Gotham’s population. With Harley Quinn on the team, it is not long before Batman suspects that she may have alternative motives as well and heads to Arkham.

Much like the Arkham video games, this movie has a full lineup of Gotham villains and an assault on Arkham eventually escalates into a war at Arkham. Don’t get too attached to any of the Suicide Squad members, either, because not everyone makes it out alive. You never know who is going to get the axe next — especially when Waller holds their lives in her hands.

Watching Batman take on all members of the Suicide Squad at once is action-packed in and of itself, but when things really get out of hand, that’s when the fun begins. In the end, you may be surprised by who ends up fighting whom.

New Captain America Movie Takes On Government Spying, Targeted Killings

The creators of the film intentionally raise a moral issue with modern U.S. foreign policy: We must take out our enemies before they take us out.

“The question is where do you stop?” Director Joe Russo asked. “If there are 100 people we can kill to make us safer, do we do it? What if we find out there’s 1,000? What if we find out there’s 10,000? What if it’s a million? At what point do you stop?”

The lingering question, which the movie addresses head-on, is how much freedom are we willing to give up to feel safe? And, at what point have we sacrificed everything America is supposed to stand for?

Read the full article here.

If the goal was to create a political thriller, which Marvel wanted, then there is arguably no issue that should cause more anxiety among the populous than infringements on civil liberties by the U.S. government. Captain America: The Winter Soldier highlights the modern U.S. foreign policy of taking its enemies out before its enemies take us out, which raises some obvious moral questions.

What if government officials decided that by taking out a million people, America could be safer? It doesn’t matter if the people in question are proven threats to national and global security or that they are American citizens who are guaranteed certain legal rights by the U.S. Constitution — rights that are supposed to promote a system where people are innocent until proven guilty. What if an enhanced computer system was in place that used a certain algorithm to not only determine potential threats, but then used unmanned aerial vehicles to take these targets without due process and with zero accountability?

The questions posed by Russo are also raised in the movie Swordfish, in which John Travolta’s character gives a similar hypothetical scenario to Hugh Jackman. John Travolta plays a counter-terrorist in a top secret government operation to thwart future threats to the United States through preemptive measures designed to spread fear so no one would even think of attacking the U.S.

Stanley (Jackman): How can you justify all this?

Gabriel (Travolta): You’re not looking at the big picture Stan. Here’s a scenario. You have the power to cure all the world’s diseases, but the price for this is that you must kill a single innocent child, could you kill that child Stanley?

Stanley: No.

Gabriel: You disappoint me; it’s the greatest good.

Stanley: Well how about 10 innocents?

Gabriel: Now you’re gettin’ it. How about a hundred? How about a THOUSAND? Not to save the world, but to preserve our way of life.

Stanley: No man has the right to make that decision; you’re no different from any other terrorist.

Gabriel: No, you’re wrong Stanley. Thousands die every day for no reason at all. Where’s your bleeding heart for them? You give your 20 dollars to Greenpeace every year thinking you’re changing the world? What countries will harbor terrorists when they realize the consequences of what I’ll do?

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is not the first movie to highlight the moral concerns with using extreme preemptive tactics to maintain security, but it may bring the issue to the attention of a much larger audience.

Films are a form of entertainment, but they are also a form of art and communication. They are a different medium of expression and speech. When the media doesn’t talk about these issues, no one cares. So why can’t movies pick up the slack?

The problem is the common response will be: it is just a movie. The storyline was founded on the biggest civil liberties and foreign policy issues to arise in the last few years: government spying, data collection, targeted drone strikes, and kill lists, but most people will not look any deeper into the movie than they want to. People go to movies to be entertained — to escape reality.

Still, the parallels are there and the question people should take away from the film is, how much freedom are they willing to give up to feel safe? In a post 9/11 world we have seen numerous examples of the government sacrificing individual rights and liberties in the name of national security. Yet, the only question the mainstream media wants to ask is if people like Edward Snowden are heroes or traitors.

There is absolutely no way of knowing how far the government is willing to go if the American people are kept uninformed of its actions.