Movies

Assassin's Creed: This game should have stayed put

There’s a long history of video games being made into films. We’ve had everything from Prince of Persia to Lara Croft and more recently Warcraft. However, the one thing they all have in common is their inability to recreate the magic of their original game series have been able to. Perhaps this was due to polarised views of the game developers and the actual filmmakers. In a welcome move, video game publisher Ubisoft’s film division Ubisoft Motion Pictures decided to enter the arena with the live-action feature Assassin’s Creed. Based on the game of the same name, the film is the first time a publisher is involved in the filmmaking process of a video game film. Naturally, expectations were high, especially when stars like Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard were announced as leads.

 

Unfortunately, the film has done little to take forward the game series’ legacy. Instead of having the game’s actual protagonist Desmond Miles in the film, Ubisoft sought to create an entirely new character named Callum Lynch (Fassbender) to tell the audience of the conflict between the Knights Templar and the Assassin’s Creed. For centuries, a group of assassins has been protecting the Apple of Eden, which contains the DNA to free will. In present day, Lynch – a descendent of Aguilar de Nerha, a member of a secret order of assassins – is a death row convict. He escapes execution thanks to Abstergo Industries, the modern-day embodiment of the Templar Order. The company has developed a machine called the Animus that uses Lynch to access Aguilar’s memories to find the Apple of Eden. The machine transports Lynch into the body of Aguilar and his world.

 

The premise of the film is pretty much the same as the game. Its execution however, lacks the finesse, intrigue and excitement the series is renowned for. Indeed, the plot is perhaps too complex to be reimagined within the span of a couple of hours. The characters arcs are too complicated, often left unexplained. For instance, Aguilar’s lover and partner Maria (Ariane Labed) is barely introduced. She just pops up and a kiss shared between the two is a moment of realisation for the audience. Then there’s the recreation of the Assassin’s Creed universe – which includes the world of the Spanish Inquisition – where director Justin Kurzel (famous for his previous collaboration with Cotillard and Fassbender in 2015’s Macbeth) makes a few amateur mistakes. For one, his constant back and forth between present-day Lynch (in the Animus machine) and his embodiment of Aguilar is very jarring. We don’t get to enjoy the old-world combat sequences that make the game thrilling. And when we return to Lynch strapped into the Animus, we’re yearning to return to Aguilar’s world. With barely enough time to explain the plot, in the end Kurzel resorts to oversimplifying the principles that the game is much loved forFor instance, rather than explain what the game’s famous Leap of Faith manoeuvre, the director has Abstergo Industries’ head scientist Sophia Rikkin (an absolutely wasted Cotillard) merely mouth the words.

 

There’s plenty wrong with Assassin’s Creed and very little that’s right. Fans of the game will perhaps be happy with the recreation of their favourite characters on the big screen. But that’s about it. The uninitiated, though, will walk away confused. You’ve been warned.  

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Printable version | Mar 6, 2021 2:12:09 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/Assassins-Creed-This-game-should-have-stayed-put/article16965274.ece

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