We’ve had mainstream media trying, and failing, to make successful movie franchises based on hit video games for years. It’s understandable, as loads of games have truly cinematic moments and amazing sweeping stories. None of the movies that have been released, however, live up to the worlds we’ve built in our minds from playing through these stories and becoming the characters. Films such as the Resident Evil franchise have been serviceable enough, though even those fail to capture the same greatness as the games they’re based on. Most video game films are absurd (looking at you, Super Mario Bros.) and some, well, some are directed by Uwe Boll. Yikes.
What you have with Assassin’s Creed is a movie that, during its opening, you see Ubisoft’s logo along with the production studios, which is a surreal experience in of itself- making you feel as though you should be reaching for a controller. Seeing that, you can tell that Ubisoft had real faith in this production and didn’t just offload it for a quick buck. After watching the film, I’m pleased to say that the faith was well placed.
The plot of Assassin’s Creed takes all of its inspiration from the games, sensibly cutting out parts of the narrative that wouldn’t translate well to film. Let’s be honest here, I love the Assassin’s Creed games, but parts of the story are too convoluted to exist within the allocated time-frame for a feature-length production.
With this film, they’ve taken the very core of the Assassin’s Creed universe and trimmed the fat from the extended universe, leaving us with a clean standalone story that’s good for gamers and new-comers alike. My only gripe I had with the story, which I feel is a gripe every gamer has when seeing a film based on a well-known game, is the unfortunate exposition that explains a world that the gamer is already well-versed in. I can appreciate that it has to be done so that everyone is able to follow the story, I just wanted to jump right into the crazy parkour Animus action. Fortunately, it doesn’t take too long to get to the meat of the story.
In my opinion, staying away from Desmond, the game’s character, pays off greatly. As much as I love his character, the film manages to give us its own story separate from the games. The fight choreography throughout Assassin’s Creed is amazing, showing the tight acrobatic combat that you come to expect from this series. The parkour moments closely resemble the same action that the game has to offer.
The scenes in Spain are beautiful and feel exactly like the cities you’re used to from the earlier games, and the Abstergo facility is amazing. The Animus has been re-imagined in this film, clearly for the cinematic effect. It is no longer a bed that the subject lies on as they live through the memories of their ancestors. Instead, it is now a robotic crane used to support the subject as they are physically re-enacting the memories of the past, I thought this change was great and it looked stunning- leading to several brilliant scenes that alternate between time periods during action sequences.
The development and change seen in Cal (modern day Michael Fassbender) was truly satisfying and done really well. Getting to see other assassins and the large battles between them and the Templar’s was amazing. The film ends terrifically as well, closing off its loose ends with a satisfying finale. This is both a blessing and a curse as now I want more but don’t want something that wouldn’t do this movie justice.
After watching Assassin’s Creed, I’m sure we will finally start to see video game adaptations that do justice to their source material. If this is a sign of things to come then keep it coming. Whether you are a fan of the game series or not, this film is well worth a watch, as it showcases how good video game movies can be when treated properly. Don’t miss it!