Assassin's Creed Movie Review

December 25, 2016

 

Video Game movies are a wonderful curse. They're wanted all the time, but are never done quite right due to fans' high expectations, or studio's miscommunication on what the games truly incorporate, or even the game just simply doesn't translate well to the big screen. 

 

In Assassin's Creed case, the result of the movie depends on the question asked. Was it a good movie? No. Is it an enjoyable movie? Absolutely. 

 

Assassin's Creed is a rarity of its kind: a video game movie that stays very truthful to its lore. It could be the direct involvement from Ubisoft that kept the film on track with the games or the nature of the source material that lent itself well.

 

If you weren't aware, the Assassin's Creed games and movie take place in a near future where its discovered that memories are genetic. A company called Abstergo works with patients with specific lineages to enter their genetic memory to find an ancient artifact called The Apple of Eden, and that involves peeking into the patients' pasts. Often unknown to the patients, The Apple contains a certain power or genetic code to eliminate free will. At the same time it is discovered that Abstergo is a company with a deep, deep history of Templar rule. The Templars have been warring against a gifted group of individuals called The Assassins since ancient times. 

 

The Assassin's Creed movie is comparable to the first game, but has no real link to any of the characters giving fans the option of completely forgoing the movie all together if it fails. Unlike any of the games the majority of the movie takes place in 2016 instead of the Spanish Inquisition where the aforementioned patient's past takes place. The visual effects of the animus in the movie paint a new idea of futuristic technology, a claw that allows for movement hooked onto the body via the spine, which is a lot more exciting than the game's animus, which is just a bed. Prior to the film's release, fans were skeptical of the look and nature of the animus, but it ended up being one of the coolest things in the film. 


The action sequences are beautifully done, bombarded with parkour riddled chase sequences as expected from a game movie of this nature and quick-paced choreography using a myriad of weaponry, again, much like the game. 

 

The score had a hint of the familiar violins of the game as well while keeping to a strummy style of Spainish tunes and I found myself longing for the slow string of the track "Venice Rooftops" from Assassin's Creed 2. The Spanish Inquisition scenes make up about 30% of the movie, and are entirely in Castilian Spanish accompanied with English subtitles offering real immersion as opposed to most films where everyone has a British accent for some reason. Jumping between the yellow tint of the past to the white walls of the future wasn't as jarring as one would expect and in fact added to the really dramatic and well-done cinematography.

 

Simply put: the movie did an amazing job of making it feel and look like the games. 

 

However, the movie is full of misplaced one liners, and awkward scripting. Despite the cast of amazing, beloved actors, there was a staleness due to the dialogue that felt as if it was mistranslated to English and then used without edit. There were unexplained devices, hollow subplots, and too many lingering shots of characters' watery eyes that was intended to add raw emotion, but messed with the pacing of the movie. 

 

What makes the games so interesting is its deep root in real life history, combined with exciting theories and conspiracies that feel very possible. And for the movie, they decided to focus on the thing that was less interesting: the present (or near future). Despite that, they somehow managed to make that element more interesting, and in its confusing overarching plot offered clarity for the games' overarching plot. 

 

Despite the bad dialogue and awkward scripting, the movie's dedication to the game pushes video game movies in the right direction. The Assassin's Creed movie is full of amazing action sequences and powerful visual effects that make it worth it to experience in 3D. It just suffers from poor game to movie translation that most video game movie suffers from. 

 

Again, it comes down to two questions-- Was it a good movie? Is it an enjoyable movie?-- and which question is more important to you. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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