Too Much Ambition and Not Enough Homework Will Spoil 'Assassin's Creed’
Is it possible for a video game adaptation to be spoiled by the lofty goals of its Hollywood handlers?
With still nearly a year before the film’s December 21 release date, Michael Fassbender is starting to stoke the Assassin’s Creed hype train fire. In an interview with Empire magazine, Fassbender — who serves as both the film’s star and one of its producers — doesn’t mince words when bragging about how good he thinks the movie will be.
“The idea of DNA memory elevates it from a basic fantasy genre [piece], because you have something an audience can actually believe in. I’ve always thought about The Matrix when we’ve approached this.”
Let’s try to move past the fact that Michael Fassbender believes that Assassin’s Creed’s DNA memory plot is a thing that could happen (even though this isn’t the first time he’s said so). Just mull it over the next time one of Fassbender’s characters is saying something smart on screen.
Back on point: Fassbender’s comparison of Assassin’s Creed to The Matrix is another example of his pursuit of something deeper in the world of Assassin’s Creed. Unfortunately, his pursuit of a film that explores the ancestral nature of the game is super shallow compared to the series’ ideas on the means by which we achieve our goals. Assassin’s Creed is a murky journey through the evils of good and the virtue of evil — the generational stuff is mostly afterthought. Anyone who’d spent time with the game would know that.
Fassbender, of course, explains that he hasn’t really spent much time with the game, which belies a mistake that pretty much every Hollywood figure who’s adapted a game for the big screen makes: There’s no respect for the source material (a point that’s reinforced when Fassbender says his version of the film won’t be ultra-violent).
Even more worrisome is the film’s director, Justin Kurzel, a man with only two mediocre feature film credits to his name. His most recent film was a painstakingly long-winded and virtually unwatched adaptation of Macbeth, starring Fassbender. Question: how does someone make Shakespeare’s bloodiest and most exciting play boring? Answer: by imbuing every single shot with a heavy-handed longing for audiences to please just find the depth.
Even more, the few promising facts surrounding the film — like Fassbender’s promise that there would be little CGI — are quickly undercut. This was the wrap photo sent out on Twitter just last month:
Not a great sign, folks.
All the hype surrounding the movie could be summed up by a smiling still of a hooded Fassbender with the caption, “I will win an Oscar for this!” And that’s a bummer. Assassin’s Creed should be an intriguing thriller with solid stealthy stalking scenes and some brutal violence, but it’s preposterous cross-generational plot is never going to be more than fun sci-fi fluff. Unfortunately, it looks like the artists handling the film have forsaken what made the game great for whatever will help them express the magic inside themselves.