Batman: Assault on Arkham
Composed By: Robert J. Kral
Distributed by: La-La Land Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
A direct-to-video animated sequel to Batman: Arkham Origins, an action adventure video game, Batman: Assault on Arkham mainly focuses on the Suicide Squad, a team of supervillains assembled by the government for high-risk black ops missions in exchange for commuted prison sentences. This time around, the Suicide Squad has been sent to Arkham Asylum to take out The Riddler. Unfortunately, Batman is on to them, infiltrating their ranks in an effort to discover just what the group is up to. Things go awry when Suicide Squad member Harley Quinn breaks ranks to free her boyfriend, the Joker.
The musical score of Batman: Assault on Arkham was created by Australian composer Robert J. Kral, whose foray into music began at the young age of four when he learned how to play the drums and piano. By the age of fifteen, Kral was writing music for full orchestras. Upon completing a Bachelor of Music degree, Kral went on to create a number of scores for Australian films and advertisements. Moving to Los Angeles in the early 1990s, he began working with composer Christophe Beck and the rest was history. Best known for his work on Angel and The Dresden Files, Kral has gone on to amass quite a résumé of musical scores for television and film, including Miracles, Duck Dodgers, The Haunting in Connecticut and The Lost Room. Kral is also no stranger to the DC Comics world, having created the musical scores for Superman: Doomsday, Green Lantern: First Flight and Batman: Gotham Knight (co-composer).
When approached to create the musical score of Batman: Assault on Arkham, Robert J. Kral had a certain tone in mind: "In terms of influence, for this movie most of the approach I knew would be different, with influences coming from Guy Ritchie movies or even OCEAN’S 11 in places. Jay [Jay Olivia - director] and I definitely wanted some funk grooves. We wanted the flavor of setting up the story to feel like a heist movie but set in the Batman world."
The resulting score is an action-packed, fast-paced thrill ride featuring orchestral, electronic and ambient sound. The Batman theme we have become so used to is not very prominent in this soundtrack as the movie focuses mainly on the Suicide Squad, but we do hear it featured in Nigma's Confrontation/It's Batman and Batman - Assault on Arkham End Credits and sparingly in a couple of other tracks throughout.
When did cartoon soundtracks become so advanced and dramatic? The soundtracks of cartoons in my childhood never provided the adrenaline pumping drama that Robert J. Kral provides in his score for Batman: Assault on Arkham. Sure, there are some cartoonish moments, mostly in scoring for scenes featuring Harley Quinn such as Criminal Montage, but there are other scenes featuring Harley that are dead serious such as Harley's Rage and Harley Arrested to Arkham. And with amazing action-packed tracks such as Dropping Down, Joker's Out/Suicide Squad vs. SCU and Gearing Up/Beer Room Challenge (which features some of that funk groove Kral was talking about), Batman: Assault on Arkham is a must listen for any soundtrack aficionado, fan of Batman or not!