I had the chance to see an early screening of Assassin’s Creed last week and came out of it with very mixed emotions.
As a longtime fan of the original game, I remember how excited I felt every time I got to go into the Animus to take out the Templar when I began playing #AssassinsCreed back in 2007.
As news about the live-action film kept rolling in, I was hopeful this might be a video game adaptation that set a new standard, and the a-list cast as well as the awesome marketing campaign had me walking into the theater with high expectations.
Unfortunately, the same level excitement that makes the game so fun to play just isn’t realized in the movie.
The movie isn’t a total waste, however. There’s good and bad to be found here, but fans of the game are going to love and hate the Assassin’s Creed movie — specifically because it feels too much like the game.
But first, check out the stars talking about the video game and how they got involved here:
“We work in the dark to serve the light. We are assassins.”
Fortunately for the studio, the world of the video game visually transitioned well from the game to the big screen.
The Animus looks intimidating, yet awesome, and the Andalusian sets were gorgeous. The transition from present day to ancient Andalusia, and sometimes both at the same time, also worked well and was entertaining throughout the film.
The cast performances were terrific and the best part of the movie. Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard and Jeremy Irons all really brought each of their characters to life with the parts they were given. (I wish they would’ve given Cotillard’s character Sofia a little more relevance, but she still rocked every scene she had.)
Fassbender definitely stole the show. He did a convincing job both as the troubled Cal and as the assassin Aguilar. (Take a look at the featurette below for some great moments from the film.)
However, what’s great about the film also works against it.
The excellent translation of the game’s visual world to the movie screen and the strong performances of the cast only make the lack of character development and rushed story line more obvious.
Without giving too much away, there are several dramatic scenes where a main character gets killed, but to be honest I just didn’t care because the characters were poorly developed.
In video games we watch characters die all the time, then move on to the next scene and that’s exactly what happens in this film — a big death occurs and then we’re on to the next action sequence with the character’s death doing little to advance the plot or enrich the story.
Assassin’s Creed (Ubisoft Motion Pictures)
I feel like the film misses several opportunities to give the characters more substance. If they just would’ve focused on giving the main characters a little more background and personality then all of the death and destruction in the film would’ve been much more effective.
It’s obvious the filmmakers made a big effort to stay as true to the game as possible, which is great, but the same pacing doesn’t work for a movie. Instead of cramming the entire story into 115 minutes they should have stretched it out and made it two parts, taking more time to develop the characters and giving us reasons to care when they’re killed off.
The whole production felt very rushed. In fact, it’s felt so rushed that audience members who are unfamiliar with the game may have a hard time following the story.
It’s disappointing because there were enough characters and enough background story that this movie could have easily been broken up into two parts without feeling thin.
Assassin’s Creed is sadly a missed opportunity that looks great on the surface, but in the end doesn’t live up to its potential.