Thursday, 5 January 2017

'Assassin's Creed' Review

When hearing of a video game movie coming out, the worst is expected. There is just something that doesn't transcend from the game to the big screen. This is sometimes due to budget's, poor casting and just not the right people behind the project. However, 'Assassin's Creed' reunites MacBeth director Justin Kurzel with Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, the two leads in said film. Due to this, many were optimistic as there was all the potential for there to finally be a good video game adaptation. Unfortunately, the wait goes on.

Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) is sentenced to death after committing murder. He is put to death but wakes up in a high-tech facility in Madrid, Spain. Lynch has been brought here to be a part of some revolutionary technology that unlocks genetic memories. Lynch is used to access the memories of Aguilar, a member of the Assassin's Creed in 15th Century Spain. As well as doing this, Callum will look to gather skills to help against the modern day Templar association.

Much like 'Silence' - the other New Years Day release- 'Assassin's Creed' is a fairly difficult watch. Unlike 'Silence', however, is that it is for completely different reasons and none of them being positive. 'Assassin's Creed' is a very disappointing and quite frankly, a terrible movie.

With a concept only comparable to the likes of 'Avatar', where a person is transferred into a body in some sort of way, 'Assassin's Creed' fails in explaining simply what is happening. This aspect is a huge part of the film as it is how the best parts of the film are made possible. For fans of the game, you are at an advantage as you already know how it works. The film seems to think as if everyone knows this already which is a big reason to why this failed. If you are building a new action series, you don't brush over key elements that are integral to the story. Due to this, it becomes unclear to what is actually happening. As we see Fassbender's Callum Lynch being hooked up to the machinery, we see the Spanish Inquisition and the assassin Aguilar. We also do see the machine moving Lynch around which gives off that it is the machine that is doing all the work. However, later on, there are elements that make it seem as if Lynch is doing the work in this machine himself. This is never settled and leaves you thinking what exactly is going on. In fact, this is the case in other stages within the film. You'll find yourself constantly wondering what on earth is going on throughout the film, whether it be from character's actions or the modern day Templar stuff. I call it Templar stuff as it's not fully explained and even worse, so boring that you don't care or bother about it.

For the most part, the parts of the film involving Aguilar within the Spanish Inquisition is done fairly well. There are some great action scenes and chases which show off some of the staple features in the video game series. The problem is, you don't care. There isn't any reason to care about the characters within this film as there aren't any characters. This transcends in both parts of the film which is baffling, how do you manage to get people to not care about characters played by Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard?. There's nobody who is particularly interesting or has something commanding about them in the entire film. The film just hopes that you will do so after seeing some cool action scenes but it doesn't work like that. There is no character building and worst of all, no reason to care about the main character. If you're looking to create a franchise, you have to make a likeable hero who the audience care, want to get behind and will come back to see again. Had the film not had Michael Fassbender in the leading role, it would've been a total disaster.

The cast in 'Assassin's Creed' was something to get behind from the start. Michael Fassbender is one of the top actors today, having done great work in the likes of 'X-Men', 'Macbeth' and 'Steve Jobs' in recent times. His co-star in 'Macbeth' and Academy Award Winner Marion Cotillard provides support yet again with Jeremy Irons and Brendan Gleeson doing so too. But the film doesn't take advantage of the talent in their grasp. All the actors are adequate in their roles but none of them are pushed at all. The film relegates the star power involved by simply not utilising it. The performances aren't the problem with this film as so many other aspects let it down.

Justin Kurzel struggles to even make 'Assassin's Creed' a beautiful looking film. One of the best things about the 'Assassin's Creed' games is being able to scale up the tallest buildings, where you can then look around the area and take a look at the breathtaking scenery. In some cases, yes, Kurzel does do a great job alongside cinematographer Adam Arkapaw, take the shot featuring Atletico Madrid's Vincente Calderon Stadium in the background as an example. Arkapaw clearly has the talent to create some great work and he would do so in this film. The rooftop chases allow Arkapaw to succeed as well as other moments involving the assassin's escaping. However, a decision was made to add a huge array of dust and light exposure into most scenes that looks to showcase some scenery. This just made everything look horrible and really took away from some of the good work that had been done. When you have some as talented as Arkapaw on board, you let him showcase the beautiful locations. Another part of the visuals that lets down in the use of CGI. Effects shouldn't be as noticeable in film's today, especially big budget films like this. Yet, in this film, there are occasions that not only is it noticeable but looks awful. The sight of the assassin diving from tall heights is associated heavily with the franchise as sort of a trademark manoeuvre. Seeing these moments should have been a thing of beauty, like how many fanboys mark out over seeing their favourite superheroes perform iconic moments. Instead, we get a far inferior look at these moments compared to the game as the effects don't match up well at all. A later example of this features Aguilar diving off of a bridge and as he is diving headfirst, he performs a forward roll in order for him to land. To simply put, it looked very cartoonish as the effects exposed this action from looking smooth at all. This was very poorly done which represents the entirety of this film very well.

There is a good 'Assassin's Creed' story within the source material. The idea of going back and changing events to benefit the world should work but only if done right. In this case, it wasn't done so at all, focussing on the mundane and not explaining things well enough. The action shows that there can be a great action franchise within 'Assassin's Creed' but there isn't a reason to care. This was a real missed opportunity for not only video game movies but action too.

Final Verdict = 

So have you seen 'Assassin's Creed'? If so, what did you think about it? I hope that this review was useful for if you were planning on seeing the film or not. Once again, thank you for taking the time to read my review, it is much appreciated!

By Angus McGregor

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