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Assassin’s Creed Review

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Assassin’s Creed has more than anything else, always been a framework for historical antics. All the future stuffed be damned – people want to lose themselves in the past of a dummy character whose only purpose is so we can play with history and assassin things. If any video game was going to rise above bad intentions and become a role-model for good video game movies, I wasn’t expecting it of Assassin’s Creed. This annualised fatigue-laden series has not only become one of the best game-to-film adaptations around, but one of the most gratifying movies in a while.

Games usually don’t make great movies because they still try to be games in a medium where they begrudgingly have to be something else. Assassin’s Creed evades most, if not all cross-medium complexities and simply yields to being a movie. Not a fan project, not a film made with the disruptive suggestions of game designers, but an authentic experience with focus to solely see itself be an original movie that just happens to relate to video games.

For many it’s a story that needs no introduction. For those who do it’s one told unobtrusively, without long bouts of exposition and the misconceived need to ‘catch-up’ people who aren’t otherwise familiar. There’s a tact and subtlety when you’re being told a story you’re not even aware you’re being told because you’re too engaged in what’s going on.

A tempo and overlay coat every scene, giving a psychedelic aura of intensity and gravitas. This is a movie with a rather unique direction where the camera angles feel their weight and the orchestra commanded my notice with atrociously good music. There’s a nuance and skill of film-making here that I wouldn’t expect from most movies, least of all one such as this, but every so often you get a film where the technical achievements tell a tangible story; when long-shots speak in tongue and the music determines emotion.

The shear load of its technical mass largely makes tolerable an unbelievable story. One of my expectations was for Assassin’s Creed to overdose on long-winded explanations and mythology to self-serve its line of video games, but turned out quite content in telling its own story. This is one of the better examples of how a film’s many differing facets can work in tangent to make the weaker parts stronger.

Callum’s story of confinement inside a corporate testing ground to retrieve the genetic memories of his 15th Century Assassin ancestor so the modern-day Templars can retrieve the apple of Eden and control free will is a hard pill to swallow on paper, and an even harder one to put to film. But this is a persuasive director, with talents enough to recognise the incredulity he’s dealing with and create a cinematic direction to bypass the troublesome connotations.

Assassin’s Creed does somewhat watch like a version of the games. Being shorter by way of not being a game has the advantage of a more condensed and concentrated story – like a 2 hour cutscene you’ll actually want to see. The references are not in short supply, but they’re not so blatantly obtrusive as to be another example of cheesy self-awareness, they’re just part of the movie. It’s probably short one animus session, yet Fassbender’s conflicted portrayal of a death-row man on second chance luck made the sections out of the animus better worth the watch.

Every so often I buy movies on disc. Not because I need to, or because I’m going to watch them ad nauseam, but because my money communicates something. Small a statement as it may be, it says to those on the other end, ‘this is the stuff I want to see’. And while I don’t necessarily want a sequel to Assassin’s Creed, these are the kinds of adaptations I want to see more of simply because they don’t feel like adaptations. They feel like their own creation.

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