Wow, there was a lot of smoke in this movie.

After being rescued by Abstergo Industries from his own execution, Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) is forced to go into a device called the Animus by Dr. Sophia Rikkin (Marion Cotillard) and her father, Alan Rikkin (Jeremy irons), CEO of Abstergo.  They are members of the Templar Order, a secret society with the goal of subjugating all of mankind for their own good.  They are at war with the Assassin Brotherhood, who Callum has ancestry with.  In the Animus, Callum relives the memories of his ancestor, Aguilar de Nerha, who fought the templars during the Spanish Inquisition.

As you can tell by the description, this is undoubtedly a movie based on a video game, and one of my favorite video game series from developer Ubisoft.  This is a video game that I played a lot and enjoy quite a bit (when it’s not as convoluted as the above paragraph).  I feel I can speak for all gamers when I say that I really wanted this movie to be good.  Fans have been due a good video game movie.  That one movie that paves the way for other movies and finally shows that video game adaptations can work and can be as good or even better than other movies.  I am saddened to say that Assassin’s Creed is not that movie.  Though it is also not a bad movie either.

It is a strange movie to say the least.  The beginning is pretty weak, going for an opening crawl that explains the war between the Templars and the Assassins that’s just plain boring.  Show don’t tell.  Star Wars gets away with it because it’s against a star field background and John Williams rocks the music.  The only music in this scene comes right at the end and it’s a really dated and tacky rock number that completely clashes with the period scene they just set up.  The only reason they put that explanation at the beginning is probably the same reason any one makes any decision when making a video game movie: they’re ashamed of the source material.  They need to quickly explain this “silly” plot so people can get over the fact it’s silly and then show them the awesome stuff.  I’m sorry.  It doesn’t work like that.

People seem to have the impression that anything video games do is just silly, even when it’s not.  It’s almost like these people don’t realize that people spent a lot of time and effort making these worlds and crafting these stories so they could be the best that they could be.  If you’re going to make a movie based on their efforts, take their efforts seriously.

It’s not all bad, though.  Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard are the duo that really carries this movie.  It’s a rare thing to watch an action movie and realize that you care more about these two’s relationship and it’s growth than the actual action.  I was surprised to find that these two people are actually three-dimensional characters.  I wasn’t watching Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard; I was watching Callum Lynch and Sophia Rikkin.

This movie also makes the mistake that the video games have been making for a while: taking place primarily in the present day.  About 70% of the movie takes place in the present day, whereas only the action scenes take place in the past.  While it makes more sense in the movie than in the video games, the past scenes serve only as action set pieces.  While they are amazing set pieces, it’s marred by the fact that a good chunk of it is CGI.  How do I know it’s CGI?  Because they try their hardest to cover it up with smoke.  Like, a lot of smoke.  It’s a good technique, really.  Use smoke in the foreground to cover up the CGI and make it look realistic.  The problem with that is that there’s smoke in the foreground.  Meaning you can’t see any of the action happening.

I really wanted this movie to be good.  It should have been good.  It’s definitely not the worst video game adaptation I’ve seen, but it is not the video game adaptation that proves that video game adaptations have a place in serious film.  All it does is solidify video game adaptations as the B-Movies of Hollywood.


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