I’m a HUGE fan of the Assassin’s Creed video game franchise. Like, just huge. I unabashedly love them (except for Unity, that was poop). I’ve played all of the games (for the console) and have gotten absorbed into each and every one.
Another thing about me is that I sometimes have trouble enjoying adaptations of things that I love. Me and book to movie adaptations? Forget it. I wasn’t sure how I would react to having the AC franchise on the big screen, given how Hollywood has adapted other video games (Resident Evil, Tomb Raider etc.) but I didn’t follow a ton of the release information as it came out (trailers and the like) and subsequently, I didn’t really have any expectations going into the movie. Don’t get me wrong when I talk about Hollywood’s other adaptations: I like Tomb Raider and I like the Resident Evil movies, but they’re not exactly the best adaptations of the games and the stories contained within them.
The same can be said for Assassin’s Creed. The story isn’t the most accurate to what you see in the games, and it definitely tries to separate itself from them but taking the source material and turning it into something new, but it is strictly its own thing.
The story here revolves around Cal (Michael Fassbender), after witnessing the murder of his mother as a young boy, winds up living a rough life that ultimately ends with him being executed on Death Row as an adult. From there, Abstergo jumps in and claim him, knowing that his DNA contains answers to questions that have been posed for hundreds of years.
A scientist (Marion Cotillard), begins to use the Animnus to access Cal’s his DNA memories in an effort to recover the location of the Apple of Eden, a technologically advanced artifact that grants the ability to remove the free will of others to whomever holds it. Abstergo wants to use it as a means to end violence in the world and to control the masses that make the world worse for wear.
Of course, this is a taaaaad problematic so there’s another group that wants to ensure that this doesn’t happen, all while Cal goes back and forth between his ancestor’s past and the present.
The components that remain from the game to movie are Abstergo, the Assassin’s, the Knights Templar, the Apple of Eden, and the Animus, although that has been drastically altered for the sake of the movie. The Animus here is basically the equivalent of the metal claw in one of those arcade machines except instead of trying to pick out a toy to bring to the drop box, it’s gone all maniacal and tosses the toy around like nothing.
I heard a lot of people talking about the movie being a bit ridiculous but you know what, I didn’t really find that. Again, I LOVE the games, but the subplot of the games involves highly advanced aliens who are using the Assassins and those who enter the Animus as vessels for their message, so like, OK ALL Y’ALL SAYING THE MOVIE IS THE RIDICULOUS THING.
My issue with Assassin’s Creed isn’t the ridiculousness of it, though. Rather, my issue with it involves how disjointed it feels. There’s no real compelling story to follow the characters in the past and their timeline jumps around a lot to get you to the climax of the film.
In the games, you’re far more attached to the ancestor than the present day character, which I suppose is another major difference between the games and the film. The present day conflict isn’t as interesting to me as the stuff in the past, and I didn’t feel particularly endeared to any of the characters or their plight.
There’s also a constant bombardment of eagle imagery which, I guess, is supposed to represent the game’s “Eagle Vision” feature. The eagle’s don’t really do anything but somehow get a remarkable amount of screen time which could’ve definitely been better used to show off, oh I don’t know, the cool lady assassin instead.
The special effects weren’t all that great either… honestly, I’ve seen some D-list movies that have better effects than Assassin’s Creed had. Most of them aren’t bad but there’s a couple scenes (when there’s a quick zoom in on the Abstergo facility and one other scene I can’t currently recall) where it just looks so FAKE, FAKE, FAKE. For a big budget movie like this, it just took me by surprise and took me out of the film for a moment as I noticed it. It’s not a BIG thing and it wasn’t prevalent throughout the entire film, but still.
One final note that’s a bit of a negative, Assassin’s Creed CRIMINALLY underused the brilliant Brendan Gleeson in the film. Why even bother casting someone of his caliber if you’re going to use him for like 2 minutes and for what amounts to basically nothing?!
Assassin’s Creed Blu-ray Special Features:
- Take the Pledge: Behind the Scenes of Assassin’s Creed – Join the Brotherhood as you go behind the scenes of Assassin’s Creed in a five-part documentary:
- Legacy of Assassin’s Creed – Justin Kurzel, Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard discuss the legacy of the iconic video game franchise and the original story created for the film
- Becoming an Assassin – Michael Fassbender and the rest of the cast explore the training required to become master assassins
- Tools of the Trade – The filmmakers discuss the inspiration behind the design of the costumes, hoods and weapons, as well as the signature hidden blades
- In the Realm of Realism – The Assassin’s Creed cast and crew discuss the recreation of 15th century Spain, as well as modern-day Abstergo
- Swift Moves and Stealth Maneuvers – An inside look at the incredible team behind the film’s action sequences, defying gravity with parkour and “leap of faith” stunts
- Deleted Scenes Conversation with Justin Kurzel & Christopher Tellefsen –
- Director Justin Kurzel and Editor Christopher Tellefsen look back on the scenes that didn’t quite make the cut
- Deleted Scenes Conversation with Justin Kurzel – Join Director Justin Kurzel and his key collaborators on Assassin’s Creed as they look back on the process of crafting the film
- Gallery & More! – Photos from the set, concept, costumes and weapons art
Wait for it on Netflix. The movie isn’t bad per se, and I had moments where I definitely did enjoy it, but I don’t think it was particularly good either. As far as the Assassin’s Creed franchise goes, I think I would’ve preferred to spend two hours replaying one of the games or checking out the DLC (like the Jack the Ripper pack for Syndicate).
I would have watched Assassin’s Creed eventually but I don’t think I would’ve been satisfied with it if it had been something that I had purchased for my collection.