Just as expected, it’s gonna take the flak. Almost each game-based movie never made the viewer’s eye choice but I wanted to set this movie APART from all the expectations we’ve made from the movies like Tekken, Street Fighter and the like. To not disappoint yourself, you have to set expectations and divide the sequence from all other memories that came first, and then we put Aguilar’s memories like a downloadable content (DLC) from the game, an excerpt of the creed.
The attempt of a new character in the Order of the Assassins could have been possible as it expanded its way from Masyaf to London, however, the key characters from the game are essential to make the film stick and expand the universe.
Being a fan of the franchise I can’t help but divide what actually made the film the kind of ‘worse’ film for other gamers and why is it ‘Satisfying and worth watching’ at least for a fan like me. So let me start the ball rolling from bikini bottom:
- Sticking to Timeline
Set in Tomas de Torquemada’s Spanish inquisition, we get to see the baptism of Aguilar de Nerha (1455-1526) as a Master Assassin through the bestowment of the hidden blade and losing his ring finger in the opening, which actually sets the mood of the film from the game, this might have been co-timelined with Ezio Auditore Da Firenze (1459-1524), who was actually 4 years younger, during Aguilar’s time. This means it was possible that there are two existing Apples of Eden during the encounter, 1 from Aguilar (acquired from Sultan Muhammad XII) and 1 from Ezio’s quest during his trilogy. Torquemada’s time back then was under the command of Rodrigo Borgia, a key character of AC II, which could make the film almost stand its ground and further increase its connection in the Assassin history. This means Aguilar would know that he also has brothers coming from a different country obviously where renaissance took place, which was Italy. Plus Aguilar and Ezio had the same acquaintances during the period, given that Raphael Sanchez was the spokesperson for the Spanish branch, it is even possible that the two had worked together sharing a developed cryptic technology in finding puzzles or snippets from those who came before. Back then, Rome has become one of the historic landmarks of the Templar Order during the dark times of Christianity.
Although it’s almost successful to create a thorough foundation for this Aguilar content in the AC history, the movie has somehow failed to deliver the connection between timelines and re-align this to the present. It’s still a mystery to me how the The Grand Templar became based in London when the whole memory actually revolved around the Spanish-Italian era.
London only came in when Ubisoft once again dipped the franchise in the history of Industrial revolution with the Frye twins, which is a different story.
- Choice of Main Theme – I am God by Kanye West
Assassin’s Creed Soundtracks never failed to give justice to the Creed’s vision: “To work in the shadows to serve the light”, Epic music has always defined the swift and silent steps of an assassin through its digital add-ons, demanding bass, fast paced tempo, a rich vibrato, or an accompaniment of a bard or soprano, name it! Jesper Kyd, Bryan Tyler, and Austin Wintory gave life to the franchise! In AC 1, Altair’s Music focused on the controversies and conspiracies in Masyaf and Jerusalem; AC 2, has acquired the renaissance taste of Italian bards and performances of courtesans ; However, in the case of the movie I didn’t know how Kanye West ended there singing “I am God” (Or was that dedicated to the Templars?), even though there’s this satisfying sound of the bass and touch of epic from the song and instrumental for the mood setting, the lyrics totally scrapped the nobility of the Assassins and made them sound like all thirsty for bloodbath, I almost cringed. I’d still accept KW’s song as a game music, but most likely fit for Grand Theft Auto. Though I want to consider Callum’s past as depicted in the movie so as to fit that kind of music, but on a personal note, I wished they could’ve just expounded with Austin Wintory’s genre, again basing from Callum Lynch’s behavior and London as a setting, he’s a rebel and an assassin, a criminal with a class and not some ordinary thug. He’s fit for the Rooks!
One of the in-game parts of the movie that I was expecting is how would Callum get his Eagle Vision in the present time, an intricate ability of a Master Assassin to depict a friend from a foe or a target and hiding spots, this should be included in the Animus as he also suffered bleeding from spending too long in synchronization, but I think the vision came late in when he was able to take the leap of faith, the metaphor of finally accepting the past and facing the future which was near-ending in the movie. (Unless they plan part 2.)
This late occurrence has also been a tendency of treachery as concluded by his brothers from the Creed, who doesn’t have the will to trust his capabilities and his past. Unlike Altair to Al Mualim, but yeah, the mentor was a traitor after all.
His apprentices, while being there for so long, have their own way of hating Cal instead of helping him. Their script, as I take it, has conflicted between Cal betraying the Creed because of the Animus and how to get outside Abstergo. Their origins are unknown too which makes them a hazy part of the cast, no sense of allegiance for the brotherhood.
- Cinematography and Production design
Let’s not argue about this, the whole production has set the best expectation of this film, with good locations, great cast and unconventional shots, they have beefed-up the entire package for the movie. Games have the most ideal and challenging shots as the game editors/animators have the power to create point of views with the help of certain tools, editing skills and animation expertise, the movie has made a great deal of effort to attain this kind of magic and set the mood in action, which I think is way cooler and promising.
The attempt to recreate imagination to a worldly version has been successful, given that the game has popular landmarks in it, there are familiar places shot during Aguilar’s memories that give off the environment in the game.
- Language and History
Ubisoft made a great deal when they started immersing Assassin’s Creed in rich history and scientific research to connect and reconnect fact and fiction in the franchise. I really enjoy it when I get to meet artists and distinguished people alive and kicking in the game, and not only that, you get to also work with them.
While the movie has lacked key personalities to stick with the memories of Spanish Inquistion, it still made a familiar tone by using its native language and choice of words.
- Deliverance of Characters
Aguilar’s fighting style has been similar to Ezio’s which I really give two thumbs up! The movie has synchronized familiar finishers from Assassin’s Creed 2 and Michael Fassbender is so bad ass to learn them! Not only Michael but for his double Damien Walters for a record-breaking height of Leap of Faith and Ariane Labed, a fellow gamer, who portrayed Maria with such strength and grace which I admired the whole picture.
I also like the character of Sophia Rikkin (Marion Cotillard), though Allan Rikkin has been far involved in the series of AC (he isn’t much of a key character but he’s always been there with a totally different physique), her dedication as a mad (but still hot) scientist for peace has given off a mysterious appeal having her witness the assassination of her father. I’m not actually buying that she’s biologically related to Allan, but I have yet to read the novelization of this film.
Maria, though it defeats the title of Aveline de Grandpré as the first female Assassin playable and bad ass in the franchise, has a great sense of strength and independence which made a great symbol of feminism in this film, her flexes that matched with Aguilar during the chase has managed to support the plans starting from the rescue of the Prince in the first few minutes of the movie.
Going back to the movie, as set in London, I only wished to see the Frye twins or whatever type of symbolism that they have been there or original characters coming from their bloodline. It could have been so synchronized if there’s still a Mason group in the present called “The Rooks”.
Anyway, that’s just me blabbering all my thoughts when we watched the whole thing. Honestly, I don’t quite get it why it has to get all the criticisms when in reality it’s all difficult in producing an action-packed film! Kudos to Ubisoft for this and to Michael Fassbender who I think will be the next ‘Scarlett Johansson’ in game-based or comic-based films.