*Spoiler Alert! If you are avoiding spoilers, do not read further. You’ve been warned.*
After seeing the first disappointing reviews come out for Assassin’s Creed, I still managed to watch the movie in theaters recently. Lowered expectations could not manage to save the movie, but at the same time, I don’t think it was a completely dismal experience. If you’re hoping for the flick that will prove video games can make good movies, Assassin’s Creed is not the movie.
The movie begins with Aguilar’s (Michael Fassbender) acceptance into the Assassin’s Brotherhood in Spain during the Spanish Inquisition. The assassins are currently in conflict with the Templar Order who have been in the search for the Apple of Eden which is suppose to contain the seeds of man’s first disobedience and the genetic map of the assassins. With such an important item, the Templar Order can destroy free will and the assassins. Aguilar accepts his mission to protect Prince Granada.
The movie then cuts to a young boy named Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) who comes home to find his father standing near his dead mother. Callum’s father is surrounded by authorities and Callum runs away. Many years later, Callum is an adult set to be executed for murder only to wake up and find himself in a facility located in Madrid.
Callum meets Dr. Sophia Rikkum (Marion Cotillard) where he finds out he is, like the others also in the facility, being used for his genetic memories in search for the Apple of Eden. Callum is descended from the assassin, Aguilar, and can help Sophia find the Apple of Eden and put an end to violence.
Sophia hooks Callum up to a large robotic arm connected to his back and spine while he engages in his memories of his genetic past. While in the Animus, Callum learns all about his genetic ancestor and learns about the assassins. Prince Granada has been kidnapped. Aguilar and his partner, Maria (Ariane Labed), must rescue the boy. In return for the prince, his father has agreed to give up the Apple of Eden.
Callum is slowly dying while being pulled in and out of the Animus. He learns he must go in by his own free will if he is ever going to find the information Abstergo Foundation is looking for, which the audience quickly finds out has connections to the Templars.
Assassin’s Creed might have been enjoyable if the movie had given the audience some information to go off of about the Animus and Callum in the beginning of the movie and allowed immersion into Callum’s past. Instead, the movie constantly jerks the audience out of the enjoyable experience of the past to make sure we don’t forget it’s only the past and there’s this really cool animus thing with the main character from the present. (Please note my sarcasm here.)
I know Assassin’s Creed is based off the video games and some moviegoers may know next to nothing about the games, but the constant hand holding hurts the film even for those who may not know the games. I think the movie might have been better off taking a hint from the video games because I cannot remember Assassin’s Creed games incessantly needing to explain all the details to the player. The player learns about the story and who they are supposed to be over time and resists overwhelming the player with information right away.
In the movie, I do not need to be reminded of this new Animus machine by being taken out of the story of Aguilar just to be shown what it looks like when Callum jumps. The story is just too herky-jerky and refuses to let the audience savor some of the most interesting portions of the movie in Callum’s genetic memories during the time of the Spanish Inquisition.
Some really cool opportunities are missed by the disjointedness and when Aguilar finally leaps from a high point they don’t even let us see him fall into a hay bale. At least there is a Leap of Faith. I just wish we had more time in the interesting portions of the film even though much of the special effects and action scenes look a bit rough at times.
I really want to find some positivity in my disappointment of the film. I thought the acting in the film was decent. Michael Fassbender did an excellent job with the character even if he could not save the irritating storyline. I also really enjoyed the scenery of a past Spain and would have been thrilled to see more. The direction about assassins during the Spanish Inquisition is a decent idea. The themes of free will and violence are interesting even if it could have been taken further by a smoother plotline.
Overall if you go into this movie without over thinking it or analyzing the story, it may be a fun popcorn-munching movie. Unfortunately, I was left unfulfilled by the presentation of the plot which never gave me a moment to enjoy its potentially excellent points in the film.
I wanted Assassin’s Creed to do well as a movie. Last year the best video game movies I saw were Angry Birds and a movie on Netflix called Spectral (read review here) which isn’t even a video game. Warcraft was just alright and I have yet to see Ratchet & Clank which I don’t think did so well. I am still waiting for a video game movie which can illustrate to the audience why so many of us really love these games.
Assassin’s Creed may not be the movie to prove video game movies can do well in theaters, but at the very least it might be a mindlessly fun movie to watch if you like the games and just need something to see. It’s definitely not a must-watch-now movie, which is disappointing if you’re a fan of the games.
Have you seen Assassin’s Creed? Are video game movies just cursed to never do well as movies? What do you think? Put your Geeky Talk in the comments below.