Assassin's Creed (2016)

March 31, 2017

I am a gamer and love to play videogames, but for some reason I only played through part of the first Assassin's Creed and never got to playing any of the many sequels. I know the basic gist of the game story and was interested in what a movie based on the game would turned out to be like.

Assassin's Creed at a high-level is about two groups of people who are engaged in what seems to be centuries of warfare. There are the Templars who seek power and control of the world; then there are the Assassins who are...not, so they fight the Templars. Yes, it's all a little murky and the film does not explain much. The film takes place in the current time with some action taking place in 1492. A corporation named Abstergo that is run by father (Jeremy Irons) and daughter (Marion Cotillard) has created a machine called The Animus that allows people to unlock genetic memories (hmm...). By doing this, it allows people to relive memories of their ancestors.

In comes Cal Lynch (Michael Fassbender) who's ancestor, Aguilar is the last Assassin to possess the Apple of Eden (not kidding) in 1492. The Apple was what got Adam and Eve booted from Eden; and it was given to them by aliens (at least that's what I got out of the explanation in the film). The Apple will take away human's free will and allow the Templars to control all of humanity. The Templars have no idea where it is, but they are using the Animus to poke around the genetic histories of different Assassins to find out where it went. Cal is the key to finding the Apple of Eden.

That sounds like a lot of story, but in the film it is just barely enough to keep the movie going from one action sequence to another.

The movie itself is entertaining enough to have kept my attention -- and a lot of that is because the movie is breathtakingly shot. This film is a feast for the eyes.

Everyone in the film is so serious, so very serious. The film takes itself very seriously. All this serious makes the movie sterile and sucks the fun out of it. There is not a single ounce of levity in the film, making any non-action sequence in the film -- and there are a lot of them -- quite dour. Michael Fassbender is particularly guilty of the serial-seriousness. I am not saying that all films need to be funny, but films so still evoke a sense of fun and levity from time to time -- most especially with a film that tries to be serious with things like "genetic memories" and Apples of Eden.

I have to mention again that the cinematography by Adam Arkapaw is fantastic. The score by Jed Kurzel is also quite memorable and fits the film well. I appreciated the filmmakers focus on shooting the film real-to-reel and limiting the use of CGI. This lends an authenticity to the stunt work on the film, which all of it is exciting and spectacular.

One weird thing is that the film's running time is 115 minutes (just short of two hours). The narrative portion of the film actually ends around 100 minutes into the film, leaving a whopping 15 minute of credits. Which is quite long at 13% of the film's total running time -- I guess seriously films need seriously long closing credits, not to mention a long opening screen crawl explaining the Templars and Assassins.

A note on the UHD Blu-ray release of this film: This is a reference quality UHD movie and looks fantastic. The Dolby Atmos soundtrack is also quite excellent.

In the end, I wish the film would have had a better sense of fun and maybe a slight bit of levity to lighten up the tone of the film. Assassin's Creed continues to show how difficult it is to translate videogames into film. It's not the worse videogame movie (that title can be given to anything by Uwe Boll), but it is far from the best. Worth a watch? If there isn't anything better.


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