So on the whole, what do I think of Assassin’s Creed?
This difficult for anyone at the best of times when there is as much wrong as right; but games that become films also have the pressure of not just those wanting a good film but also a film that matches the expectations of gamers.
So did they succeed?
Lets look at the two worlds, 1482 and 2016 world; the Spanish Inquisition and the Modern Day.
The 1482 world is visually spectacular to the same level as Mad Max following the same techniques that are used to keep you on the edge of your seat. What makes it different is that Assassin’s Creed is more cleaner as there are fewer moving parts during the scenes as the focus of the whole story is on two assassins. While for story this loses a lot of different perspectives that could make the story interesting it allows a cleaner but spectacular action scenes.
The modern day period seems to act as the story element of the entire film; the critics who didn’t directly slate the film consider this the weakest part of Assassin’s Creed. As a fan of the games (up to AC3 at least) I’m not 100% sure either way; this is cannon to the series, not a remake or reboot which means I can judge it alongside the films… and this is where I feel let down. It’s always been the weakest time period in the games and it follows through to the film… unfortunately worse as it had to carry the whole plot and a large amount of the character and world building.
Just looking through the first Assassin’s Creed game and a few pieces of text, you see the Templar as a grey area as is the Assassins; neither group is entirely in the right, nor do they uses methods that are right all the time but in their eyes they try to do the right thing. The Templar have a goal of dominating the world in cannon but with very noble goals; but apart from Sophie Rikkin who explores the concept, we do not see noble goals we just see a group wanting to dominate the world and destroy the Assassins. I feel they weren’t willing to commit to this in the film as they needed a good group and a bad group.
The Apple of Eden, again missed opportunity. We have seen the effects of the Apple on several people in the first 3 games alone; Altair gained knowledge, Desmond and Ezio the ability of foresight, Al Mualim the power to control. They again focused on the surface level, the power of control; and pretended that everything else didn’t exist. OK again Sophie could create the exception again but it’s shut down very quickly at the endgame; being told she was being used to get what the Templar wanted by lying to her.
What I will say is that there are some side stories and moments that do work, Joseph and Callum Lynch (father and son) and even McGowen (looked his name up in the wikia) who respects the Assassins even as an Abstergo Security officer. However every lead character in modern time suffers from Desmond Syndrome, they are too flat or have something to go on but that is all, again bar Sophie but even she can be improved as they set up things that lead nowhere and will never lead anywhere because of the ending. Relationships are just as shallow; Alan and Sophie feel more like boss and employee, Joseph and Callum’s relationship could have been a lot stronger and even Sophie and Callum’s relationship, although given the setup, could have been much more interesting.
As canon to the Assassin’s Creed series this film does not do it justice; and that is a shame, there are so many ways they could have made this a perfect follow on to the games. Unfortunately, the problem is with something that has so many moving parts like the Animus, the time travel mechanics, memories, two story lines and then add the existing known lore of a game; you have a situation where ANYTHING can cause it to come crashing down.
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