I didn’t look at any in-depth reviews of the movie before going to see it. I heard a few things in passing about how it’s another bad video game movie. I was even told to not bother with it because it was just ‘so bad’.
I don’t know what people expect from video game movies, but I think they’re too much. Adaptations will be adaptations, not one-to-one translations of the games. I’ve heard others say it and I agree with them: the two are fundamentally different types of media. Video games are built on hours of interactive gameplay and the fantasy of roleplaying. Short cutscenes in games are worth it because the players had to do something to get to them. Movies are there for the audience to sit back and watch for two hours, not enough time to weave intricate backstories to get into.
In my opinion, the movie did really well in adapting the concept of Assassin’s Creed into a more exciting feature film. If you’ve ever played the games some parts weren’t really good for a movie. For example Desmond and his friends were always on the run. Then what did they do after? They sat down and fiddled with the Animus. For the movie I think the real world parts were at least done way better.
The rendition of the Animus in the film was one of my favorites. Instead of just a fancy chair, it’s like an awesome virtual reality rig complete with 3D holograms for public viewing. Its structure was well used too as storytelling devices in key scenes. Another one from the games is the Bleeding effect. Similar to the games, the modern Assassins were able to meet their ancestors through memories even in the real world. Callum was even seen training with Aguilar’s hallucinations. In the games, Synchronization was an excuse for failure states. The said reason was that the user of the Animus had to reenact the memories up to a certain threshold. Synchronization in the movie, though, made a lot more sense. The memories were just playbacks. The users were the ones who had to keep up with those memories in order to remain in sync. They had to train up in order to synchronize with their Assassin ancestors’ movements.
The memory scenes inside the Animus were short, admittedly. If it was in the game it would be similar to just one mission out of the whole campaign. The focus on the real world is a contrasting change from the games where players enjoyed the freedom inside the Animus more.
You can say Callum Lynch was maybe a generic action movie character… but there were two scenes specifically that I think the movie did well and did originally. One is his Leap of Faith. It was an awesome moment. It was the time he fully synchronized with Aguilar. To me it was symbolic of some turning points in the movie. It was him breaking free of the Templar’s control and the start of their rebellion inside Abstergo. And it was also as if the Templar’s machine could not even handle the Assassins’ moves at their fullest. The other was Callum’s Initiation into the Assassin Order. I don’t think it was done like that in the games before. You can call it an Avatar State or something similar. Maybe it was a metaphor for Callum fully accepting his heritage. Fragments from all his genetic memories came together for an awesome scene. And was that Sophia’s ancestor we saw?
Speaking of Sophia Rikkin, I thought she was a suitably ambiguous character. Was she a true villain or not? Even until the end that question wasn’t given an answer. The movie says it directly; she was a scientist first before a Templar. She truly believes in her goal of eradicating violence. But will she abide by that even if it means having to be in the Templar Order? We wouldn’t know. Maybe in a sequel. Hopefully.
I really enjoyed the movie because it was the kind of cryptic and ‘cool’ writing that I would write. It resonated with me well.