I think I've grown to expect too much from the new DCA films. The endless strew of animated batman films and adaptations of multiple justice league storylines was great at first but now they're starting to drop in quality.
Son of Batman was a complete disappointment which left me bemoaning Ra’s Al Ghul and Deadshot’s credibility and hoping someone stabs that annoying Damian kid through the heart. But then I heard about Batman: Assault on Arkham and was thrilled to find it would be “loosely based” on one of my favourite games of all time.
It turns out the film has nothing to do with the games apart from stealing the title card from Arkham City.
The film revolves around the reformed suicide squad, a team of supervillains brought together to do the dirty work of Amanda Waller and Cadmus. The squad composed this time around of Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Captain Boomerang and an assortment of mooks you’ve probably never heard of, are tasked with breaking into Arkham Asylum to steal back some top secret information from the Riddler.
So for the first half I was essentially watching a heist movie as the team breaks into the building and move towards the objective. I genuinely enjoyed this part, it had a lot of interesting character moments and some fun comic relief as well as a quite well executed scheme. But as you probably guessed the only reason I mention enjoying the first half is to make it more meaningful when I go on to rag about the second.
Earlier on we are told that Batman won’t be making much of an appearance because he is busy looking for a bomb the joker has hidden somewhere in the city. But surprise surprise (also spoilers) the bomb is actually in the asylum and that’s when batman appears.
Honestly I was incredibly disappointed to see Batman appear at all. I liked the idea of a film with just the suicide squad because it’s at least an interesting idea. The worst part is why spend the first half of the film getting me invested in their characters if you’re just going to shove it all aside for batman in the end.
This film has put me on the first step to acknowledging that maybe Batman isn’t as cool or interesting as we all think he is and maybe it’s time to acknowledge him as the emo Mary Sue he really is…Jesus Christ did I really just type that? Disregard this paragraph.
I will at least admit that although he steals the show just by dint of being there Batman is not exactly the main character. In some weird way we are given Deadshot as the main character which doesn’t work because compared to every other character he is completely unlikeable. Throughout the film he acts like a complete jerk but we are expected to sympathize with him because he spends half the film looking at a picture of his daughter. The old “It’s okay for me to break the law because I love my kids shtick.”
The film left me lukewarm and ultimately disappointed. The writing for some of the characters was good, the dialogue and humour weren’t bad and there was a stunning performance by Troy Baker as the Joker (who I think is really on his way to making the role his own). But overall the plot was weak, the fight scenes were stupid and even the humour gets old in places.
One running joke which really got on my wick is the constant referencing of the fact that most of the cast are D list supervillains that even hardcore DC fans may have to look up. Little throwaway gags like King Shark and Killer Frost talking about how they’ve never heard of “Firefly” or “Maxie Zeus” are maddening when you know that they were only put in there because the writers thought that making jokes about their terrible casting decisions somehow excuse them.
To be fair maybe the movie isn’t as bad as I make it out to be but lord knows it’s not that good either. As I said the moments with the suicide squad are fun and the scenes with the joker are as always real killers but really you can stop paying attention around about the forty minute mark.