The first Assassin’s Creed movie trailer looks like the games, for better and worse
On paper, the Assassin’s Creed movie is looking like it could be that one project that finally breaks through and proves that video games can be excellent source material for Hollywood films.
The brutally awful history of movies based on video games is long and well documented, but there are so many potentially amazing stories that could be told from that medium, that it’s probably just a matter of time before someone does one right. Once that happens, the floodgates will open and we’ll see a lot of them. A whole lot.
In that, it’s not all that different from the history of movies based on comics. We have films today like Captain America: Civil War, but it wasn’t all that long ago that Captain America was this.
You could argue that films like those in the Resident Evil franchise already broke the seal, but you’d be wrong. So very, very wrong. There is a huge gap between Resident Evil and Civil War in every way imaginable, starting with the cast (I still love you, Milla) through the script, and on. With Assassin’s Creed though, the film seems to “get” it, at least on paper.
The movie stars Michael Fassbender and it is directed by Justin Kurzel, whose last film was an adaptation of Macbeth with Fassbender. Having a director with Shakespearean experience isn’t a bad thing, but it isn’t enough. So the film also has Jeremy Irons, The Wire’s Michael K. Williams, Brendan Gleeson, Marion Cotillard, and award-winning actress and rising star Ariane Labed.
That’s a good start. And now we have the first trailer to consider.
The movie looks like the game, for better and worse. There is a lot of CGI present – a lot – but that may be a result of the timing of the trailer’s release. The movie won’t be out for seven months yet, which gives the effects team time to smooth the rough edges. When the first X-Men: Apocalypse trailer was released, fans jumped on the look of it, especially the look of Apocalypse himself, who was unflatteringly compared to the Power Rangers’ villain Ivan Ooze. A few months later and the effects for that film seem to have found a happier place.
Putting that aside, in a vacuum, the footage would look interesting, but years of experience with bad, overblown action films make me wary.
On the plus side, I’ve been a little concerned about the inclusion of the animus in the film. In the games, the animus is the borderline magical device supposedly created by Templar scientists that can send a person back into the memories of the subject’s descendants. That allows the games to offer a modern thread that connects the various, disparate historical eras.
In a game, that works. In a film, it is junk science and instantly removes even the semblance of realism. And it does so unnecessarily. Assassin’s Creed could just as easily have told the modern story and used the flashback concept through the conceit of reading an ancient book or piecing together the ancestor’s story using a dozen other well established mechanics that would keep the films grounded.
There is an argument to be made for including the animus so the filmmakers can continue to use Michael Fassbender in the potential sequels and still offer different historical settings, but there are other ways.
The trailer seems to suggest that the animus also has the ability to bleed the talents of the ancestors into the bodies of the modern characters. Maybe, hopefully, it will all work out fine, but it seems like an unnecessarily convoluted feature.
As for the rest of the trailer, as a fan of the AC series, it’s tough not to feel a little thrill seeing the hidden blade in action and the parkour runs through a city. I could do without the badly out of place Kanye music though.
Basically, this feels like a bad trailer for a good movie. The footage looks interesting, but it focuses on unnecessary details and flashy movements, where a closer look at an engaging plot revolving around a group of assassins would have had more impact.
With all that said, I will parkour jump over the bodies of anyone that stands between me and this movie. There’s also a lot of time for more trailers, since the film won’t be out until December 21.