You know, I didn’t have very high expectations for this movie before it came out. Its trailers seemingly confirmed my fears that the movie wasn’t going to be what I wanted it to be. But you know what, when the talk started and a lot of people were saying it was good, I thought I’d give it a shot. So I did. Guess what… Assassin’s Creed it bad.
To give some context, I used to love the Assassin’s Creed games. The first three were great, but by the time I got around to Revelations and Assassin’s Creed III, the annual binge of them was starting to wear me down a little. I loved Black Flag when I picked that up though. I think my main issue with the series was the frequency to which they released them with not enough change between games. The reason I liked Black Flag as much as I did was because if felt much more like a pirate game than the ninja games of the series’ early days.
So I have opinions on the game franchise, how did that translate to the movie? Well, personally there have been enough games and spin-off content around the edges of the franchise that I felt that Fox and Ubisoft needn’t be beholden to the games themselves. That they could make an entirely unique story set within the Assassin’s Creed universe, and slot in nicely between the other entries in the franchise.
So with that being said, what is it they chose to do. Of course, just rehash the plot of the very first game… great, the last thing they should have done.
There’s a reason that video game movies have a reputation for often turning out so badly. It’s because the people who make them tend to pander to the fans of the game. With a guaranteed audience for the movie, they don’t dare stray too far from the safe zone of the game. The problem is this always ends up being to the detriment of the movie as a piece of film that needs to stand on its own. This could have been a great movie, but it ultimately feels like it was never going to stray too far from its comfort zone.
So what did it do wrong. Anyone who has played the games will know that the vast bulk of the story takes place in the past/memories section of the game. The present day sections of the story act like little more than a wrap around and have taken multiple games to actually progress any. The movie does the opposite and makes the present day sections the focus. This might make me sound like a hypocrite, after just saying they didn’t want to change enough.
But you see, the problem is because the focus is on the modern day section. The stuff that takes place during the times of the Spanish Inquisition seem to have little consequence to the movie. They’re just extended cut away action scenes. Nothing is done to make the characters in the past interesting, memorable or deep. They’re just action inserts that provide little to the movie aside from run time.
Conversely, you’d hope that the modern day sections would pick up the slack and be the highlight of the movie. Sadly, they’re dull. There is a lot of exposition dump in the movie which slows it down a fair deal, coupled with a lack of genuine warmth of likability from any of the characters. It made the movie feel like a slog to sit through for me. I mean, you’d hope that Michael Fassbender, of all people, could pull out some kind of memorable performance. But he acts like someone who is trying to imitate emotion based off reading about it in a book.
Nothing about this movie did anything for me. I heard someone describe it as being laid out like a video game itself. Having extended dialogue scenes, like video game cut scenes and then having extended action scenes akin to a video game itself. It does feel that way and that isn’t, and never has been, the way to make a movie based on anything. It even had the jarring music cues that feel hugely out of place in the game trailers.
It’s gloomy, barren of any performance of note and felt like a total waste of effort and talent. Assassin’s Creed is such a broad franchise at this point that they could have made a totally original story and they just didn’t If film makers can’t take risks with franchises like this then we’re never going to break away from stigma of bad video game movies.
Then again, I’m of the opinion that games don’t need movie adaptations anyway. Especially ones as cinematic as Assassin’s Creed already is. Do yourselves a favour and just avoid this one.