Review: Assassin's Creed
This year sucked. We were all stuck in what seemed like an eternal dread caused by the current political climate, and whenever we went to a news website we were almost always greeted by horrible tragedies and the deaths of our favorite celebrities. But, if you're a video game fan, there was at least one glimmer of hope, that this year we might not only finally get one good movie based on our favorite medium, but we could potentially get four GREAT ones. Duncan Jones was directing Warcraft, while Angry Birds and Ratchet and Clank were being turned into hopefully fun family movies, and Michael goddamn Fassbender was going to star in a big budget adaptation of one of the most cinematic game series that currently exists. And then, they actually started to be released, and one by one were destroyed by critics and audiences alike (at this point, none are even above 43% on Rotten Tomatoes). All is not lost yet, as even though early reviews were not exactly positive, I can say as a fan of the series that Assassin's Creed is a faithful and entertaining extension of the games.
Michael Fassbender pulls double duty as both Callum Lynch in present time and his distant relative Aguilar de Nerha in 15th century Spain. Callum is on death row for murder and is saved last minute by a secret society known as the Templars who have a machine that lets people tap into and relive the memories of their relatives. Callum is a descendant of Aguilar himself, a member of rival secret society The Assassins and the last known person in history to have interacted with the Apple of Eden, an artifact essential to the Templar's plans for world peace. So Callum must relive the memories of great-great-great-great-great-great grandpa Aguilar to locate the Apple and get it before the Templars can use it to take away humanity's free will.
If any of that was a little tough to wrap your head around, chances are it will stay that way unless you already have a knowledge of the video games Assassin's Creed is based on. Thankfully the movie isn't full of annoying repetitive exposition and conveys most of its information by other means. Most of the movie is spent in the present time, exactly opposite of the games where you are barely there at all. The scenes set in 15th century Spain are sadly short and are almost entirely where the films action is set. These scenes are exciting and full of large scale action, though the way they are edited with constant cuts is somewhat annoying. Eventually the action moves to present day, and it's as exciting as I always thought it could be while playing the games.
Let it never be said that an average movie can not be significantly lifted by some great performances. Without the likes of Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, and Michael Kenneth Williams I don't think Assassin's Creed would be good at all. Fassbender is particularly great, being pretty much the only thing making the first twenty minutes watchable.
Assassin's Creed is a successful if not perfect adaptation of a video game. It has some fun action scenes and great performances, plus it's not bogged down with length like most big blockbusters. While the scenes between the action will more than likely be much better for established fans, I do not think it's hyperbole to call it the best movie based on a game ever made. From what I've seen, nothing even comes close. I really hope that the sequel gets made, because the first Assassin's Creed game was also just ok. Assassin's Creed 2 is why it's a multi-hundred million dollar video game franchise.