The real issue with making video game adapted movies is duplicating the source material while adding individual innovations to create a worthy film. Very few game adapted films have done this, most notably is Mortal Kombat which is still the best fighting game adapted film to date and Prince of Persia, which actually held onto familiar aspects found in the game. Then there are those that have completely failed us—Super Mario Bros., Legend of Chun-Li and Final Fantasy: Spirits Within. Thankfully, the case is not the latter. Assassin’s Creed does deliver the video game adaption that fans (myself included) of the Ubisoft action stealth series wanted. As expected, Assassin’s Creed shifts between the modern world and the past. The movie ties closer to the first game in the series. Unlike Desmond Miles, the protagonist is a convicted murderer who is executed before being brought back to life inside Abstergo Industries. Now, we all know the story so this really shouldn’t be a spoiler unless you’ve been out of the loop for the last decade. Much of the movie borrows elements from the games and features Easter eggs from several other Assassin’s Creed games. The Animus has been a key component in Assassin’s Creed. Here, instead of a psychiatrist’s couch, the Animus has been turned into a frightening claw-like device that is fully interactive. Anyone placed in it can freely move about as they go through the actions of their Assassin ancestor. This is a very creative way to display exactly what the person is experiencing, to see them fully immersed and interacting with the past. Plus, this idea keeps comparisons to the Matrix films to a minimum.
Speaking of which, the time period of the Assassin’s Creed film is set during the Spanish Inquisition, which, ironically, Ubisoft suggested to use for one of their titles. The era of the Spanish Inquisition focuses on Aguilar and the Creed as they try to keep the Apple of Eden artifact from falling into the hands of the Templars. Paying attention to the history goes a step further than the games by having Assassins and Templars of the past speak only in Español, as opposed to the games where everyone spoke English save for a select few characters that actually used their native tongue. Not only is this creative but it further sells the setting era. Another intriguing device is the focus being placed on the movie protagonist. We actually get a little backstory to his past. Something that wasn’t depicted anywhere in the game series. Though these points move slightly away from what has been set by Ubisoft, they also stay true to the Assassin’s Creed mythos. As a fan, my biggest concern is attention to source material. Ignoring the source material or leaving out necessary elements are what have plagued video game films and why a lot of them are not good. Thankfully, Assassin’s Creed does stay faithful to the games with these minor changes. As for the film’s action, this is sparse as the focus is on Abstergo Industries and Callum Lynch’s story, much like the first game. Basically, if you were to take the side missions out of the game, such as helping the people and performing Assassination targets, that is what the film is, an Assassin’s Creed that focuses on the action, which is another important element. It would have been certainly disappointing if this was not the way we all know. Well, the Assassin’s Creed offers a worthy run through the city. Aguilar and his fellow Creed run on roof tops, along walls and across ropes as they escape the Inquisition soldiers. Fighting is also tightly close to the game, more particularly to later titles were the Assassins are more versed in hand-to-hand combat than swordplay and the signature hidden blades are shown as the forerunners for the combat scenes.
However, even with all these elements dutifully used in the film, the storyline of Assassin’s Creed does seem a bit bland and some of the dialogue can be stoic at times. Don’t get me wrong, so was some of the dialogue in the first game but in the film, it is very straightforward. There really is very little substance that grabbed hold of you aside from an occasional outburst by some minor characters. As mentioned before, Assassin’s Creed moves at a steady pace. It doesn’t try to outdo or undersell itself. The plot just cruises along smoothly with a few bumps along the way. In short, Assassin’s Creed plot devices are almost nil, yet utilizes the key and important elements from the game series that fans will find pleasing. It is not the greatest video game film, but at the same time, it is not the worst.
In case you don’t know how the series began, check out the Time Warp Review of Assassin’s Creed!!