Now that comic book movies have perfected their formula, there is one question that remains: will video game movies finally have their chance? We’ve had “so bad that it’s good” movies, such as Mortal Combat, but nothing that has genuine value. With our current technology, video game movies are definitely prettier than before, but their scripts are as weak as ever.
Assassin’s Creed is the deciding factor to whether video game movies can truly work. Most of the world (except China) was let down by Warcraft due to the weak plot and characters. However, Assassin’s Creed makes Warcraft looks like an Oscar-winner. It takes itself entirely too seriously and abandons everything that players loved about the game series.
After facing death, Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) is rescued by Rikkin (Jeremy Irons), the CEO of Abstergo Industries. With the help of his daughter Sofia (Marion Cotillard), they implant Callum into the head of his 15th-century ancestor, Aguilar—a professional assassin. Rikkin hopes to find the place of the Apple of Eden, an orb which could be used to end free will on Earth.
Cotillard and Fassbender worked with Director Justin Kurzel in 2015’s Macbeth. Performed in traditional verse, Macbeth was drenched in rich cinematography and gory action—a beautiful adaptation for a truly tragic play. It seems odd that they would go from a classic to such a low brow product. While they put on Oscar-worthy performances in the former, it constantly felt like they randomly walked onto the Assassin’s Creed set. They looked so lost and essentially played themselves, with no memorable scenes to show for it. Irons had a few rough lines here and there as obligatory jabs in this humorless movie.
For a film so insistent on giving the fans what they want, it seemed to do just the opposite. Instead of giving us a rich world set in the Spanish inquisition, it’s mainly set in everyone’s least favorite setting: The Animus. Instead of using the Animus to fuel the Inquisition’s storyline, it’s the other way around; Not including the intro, there are only three flashbacks in the entire film, and they are only used to push the modern narrative. The filmmakers disregard what fans love about the video games and use it to make a gritty, pretentious heap of hooey.
The action sequences might have been more fun if they weren’t dominated by colorless smoke and choppy editing. But even if they were coherent, it wouldn’t have made us care any more about the characters. We learn essentially nothing about Cal/Aguilar, Sophia/Abstergo or the Apple of Eden. The end product is a two-dimensional mess that obviously wanted a sequel to explain everything else.
Is this the end of all future video game films? I doubt it, since Hollywood can find a quick buck in literally anything. Until studios can find the balance between spectacles and plot, though, they will never be able to create a decent video game adaptation. Even though the Uncharted movie seems to have gotten off the ground, I wouldn’t be surprised if it hits another standstill after the Assassin’s Creed numbers come out.