Video games and films. Two very similar types of entertainment that both require the same amount of effort when it comes to making them. You would think that video game films would be a walk in the park, but sadly they are anything but. The storied history of them is brutal. They range from the downright abysmal Street Fighter (1994) to the somewhat, maybe only part decent Silent Hill (2006). There have been loads in between. My personal favourite being DOA: Dead or Alive (2006) not because it was good, not by any means, but because it tried to, scientifically, make us believe that humans could have health bars. I mean, really?
Jumping forward to 2016 and we get the next truly epic attempt at a video game film. This time it’s the open world Ubisoft series Assassin’s Creed. When it was first announced, the whole world was like meh. Myself included. But when Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard were signed on the world suddenly took a quick interest. Not only would the film have Oscar Nominated Fassbender and Oscar winner Cotillard but also up and coming director Justin Kurzel (Macbeth, Snowtown) as the driving force. Some serious firepower indeed for a video game movie. One question was soon becoming the talk of the movie and gaming world, could Assassin’s Creed be the first ever Great video game movie? Well the answer is a resounding no and I’ll explain why.
The Assassin’s Creed game is ridiculous. You play a character who gets to explore the memories of his ancestor using a very high tech machine called The Animus. This machine literally puts you in control of an Assassin, who can parkour up buildings and assassinate people with a secret blade up his sleeve. The game was average at best. Had lots of flaws. Dodgy camera angles, awkward combat and just so so tedious. But it obviously did well because it went on to spawn a million or so sequels. The story though wasn’t even that good. It was mostly about finding this “Apple of Eden” that had supposedly god-like powers. Bad people wanted to destroy the world with it. Good people were trying to prevent it. You get the idea. So even with the great cast and director I still had very little hopes purely because it was based on such a stupid plot.
The film follows pretty much the same story. With added bits, here and there sprinkled throughout. One of the biggest changes is the look of the Animus itself. In the game, it’s like this bed like chamber in which you lie down on to go in to the memories. In the film, it’s pretty much been made in to a theme park ride. Fassbender is given his secret blade gloves (Why?) and then harnessed in to the new animus and gets more than a bumpy ride. This is where the film fails. In among the fight scenes we’re flung from Fassbender kicking ass in Assassin form to him beating up air in the present world. And this happens A LOT. I know he’s in the Animus. You don’t need to keep going back and forth and showing me. It really detracts from the fight scenes with the constant camera changes. And lets face it, the majority of people watching this film are waiting for the fight scenes. Great ones can make a thin plot into an awesome film, just look at John Wick & The Raid. It’s why I am so baffled that they decided to do this with their fight scenes when it could have, maybe, saved the film.
I mean overall, there really isn’t anything good to say about Assassin’s Creed. Saying it’s a huge disappointment is the understatement of the millennium. The script is poor. There’s far too much going on in terms of the story. The action is lacking, and what we do see we don’t really see. Fassbender is lucky that he’s already an established actor, because this would have seriously hurt his career if he was just starting out. Cotillard doesn’t add anything to film. Her role could have been given to anyone to be honest. I know it isn’t her fault but there was just very little to her character. It’s all just very…meh. Which is exactly how I felt about the game to begin with. So, I can’t say I am surprised. Yet another failed attempt, and dare I say it, the potential final nail in the coffin for video game movies. It’s time for Hollywood to leave them alone. The games we play now are so cinematic anyway that we don’t need to see it replicated on the big screen. Some even better than films themselves. So, RIP video game films. You tried so hard, but just couldn’t complete the game. And no, you don’t get to continue.
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Until next time round, watch more films!