Game – Movie Review: Assassins Creed (2016)

Assassins Creed is the latest attempt at the dreaded mainstream movie adaption of a video game franchise. I think it’s fair to say that such adaptions haven’t exactly delivered what many had hoped that they would. The decision to either satisfy fans of the video game or to cater to more casual viewers is often a mistake that these adaptions make. It’s undoubtedly a difficult task to find the middle ground which means either way someone is going to feel alienated.

Assassins Creed is one of the most successful, well known & main stream video game franchises around. Ubisoft were smart to attempt a film adaption. The question is; how did they do?

In 1492, during the Granada War, Aguilar de Nerha is accepted into the Assassins Creed Brotherhood.  In 1986, Callum returns home to find his mother killed by his father (Joseph), a modern-day Assassin. As gunmen led by Alan, CEO of the Abstergo Foundation, the modern day Templars, approach to capture Joseph, he convinces Callum to flee.

In 2016, Callum is sentenced to death for suspected murder. He is rescued from execution by the Abstergo Foundation. They fake his death, and transport him to their facility in Spain. He is told that the Templars are searching for the Apple of Eden. The Apple contains the genetic code for free will. Sophia, Alan’s daughter and the head scientist, reveals that Callum is a descendant of Aguilar and conscripts him to the Animus. This allows him to relive Aguilar’s genetic memories so that Abstergo can learn the current whereabouts of the Apple.

In captivity, Callum befriends other descendants of Assassins, led by Moussa, the descendant of an 18th-century Haitian Assassin named Baptiste. He begins experiencing hallucinations, dubbed “the Bleeding Effect”, of both Aguilar and Joseph. Callum and Sophia build a rapport over their sessions; and confides with Callum that her mother was likewise murdered by an Assassin.

Will Callum lead the Templars to the Apple? Or will he discover that there is much more to his past and the Assassin Brotherhood than he had initially thought?

It saddens me to say this but Assassins Creed is yet again another flawed adaption of a video game franchise.

This review is from the prospective of someone that has played almost every single major Assassins Creed video game. That’s many hundreds of hours of gameplay. I think it’s fair to say that I’m quite familiar with the lore of that particular world.

While I do think the film does a decent enough job of satisfying those like me. It all ends up feeling far too familiar. That’s in fact my biggest problem with it overall; it doesn’t deliver anything that feels particularly original. Say what you will about the Resident Evil movie franchise but at least that gave us a story and characters that felt like something we hadn’t seen in the video games.

I question Ubisoft and their decision to release this film now when they’re fully aware that the franchise is suffering from major over saturation.

Assassins Creed reminded me far too much of the original video game of the same name. I always found the original AC game to be dull and quite uninteresting. Coincidentally these are words I would use to describe the film. They’ve taken the storyline surrounding the Apple and made a bunch of changes. It just felt to me like they were essentially telling the same tale.

It’s pretty much what I expected it to be. Ubisoft have taken the most basic/safe approach possible. I can understand wanting to keep the storyline simplistic as to not turn off new viewers. It just feels like a huge step backwards for those that are 9 games deep into the video game franchise.

I didn’t want to see the film spend too much time explaining technical things like how the Animus works. As a fan of the games, I was happy to see them quickly move past these moments. If I were a casual viewer who had never even heard of the games. I’m certain that I would be left utterly confused by how poorly/quickly they explain it, it’s a problem.

One of the biggest criticisms about the earlier AC games was the amount of time you spent outside the Animus. The AC movie makes the exact same mistake. There are only 3 very fast paced scenes spent on moments in the Animus/past. The rest of the runtime you’re stuck looking at bland Abstergo walls. Characters simply attempt to put you to sleep with long, humourless conversations.

The action is slick and well executed. Still, it left me feeling like I was simply watching an overly long cutscene with no gameplay to break it up. Video games give you things to do in between the main quest-line to extend the experience.

Assassins Creed made me feel similarly to how I have felt about the AC video game franchise. It feels far too familiar and fails to deliver anything new or interesting. If you feel even slightly disenchanted then I’m afraid to say that the film will likely only make you feel more burnt out than you already did beforehand. Its lack of creativity will only remind you why the franchise had begun to feel so stale in the first place. Again, Say what you will about Resident Evil but if there is one thing those movies never were and that is boring.

As a fan of the games, I still found enjoyment in the film. I just feel that what it delivered was extremely basic. The films & games are in dire need of fresh, new ideas.

Assassins Creed (2016)
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