Review: Assassin’s Creed (2016)

assassin-s-creed-poster-assassins-creed-2016-40074284-540-800Distributor: Regency Enterprises
Director: Justin Kurzel
Writers: Michael Lesslie & Adam Cooper
Stars: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons 
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: PG-13
Assassin’s Creed is one of my favorite video games. I’ve played the series up to Assassin’s Creed: Revelations and I’ve enjoyed the fun gameplay, intriguing plots, and interaction with historical figures. When I saw the announcement of an Assassin’s Creed movie, I knew I had to see it, despite the running reputation that video game-based movies are shoddy. I personally enjoyed the Prince of Persia movie, so I went to the theaters with a fully open mind.

Content Guide

Violence/Scary Images: This is a movie about assassins, so obviously there’s going to be some violence. I was worried about how graphic they were going to be, but the gore wasn’t anything cringe-worthy. The assassins used the characteristic throat stab with their blades, but it was very short and you only see some blood. Other weapons are used to maim and kill, but there wasn’t an excessive amount of gore. The worst bit is when Aguilar’s finger is cut off during his graduation ritual, but it’s very brief. A group of people were burnt at the stake, but you only see lit pyres and no burnt flesh. Callum Lynch can draw and some of his artwork is quite gothic. That was the scariest image I recalled in the movie.
Language/Crude Humor: There are two times I recall swearing. One usage of sh** and one f-bomb, both said by Callum.
Spiritual Content: The goal of the Templars is to steal an item called the Apple which is believed to contain the seed of man’s free will. This plays around a bit with the Fall. Also a Spanish priest murders people in God’s name.
Sexual Content: Surprisingly nothing. Not even a kiss. Callum and Maria touch foreheads. That’s the closest thing.
Drug/Alcohol Reference: Unless you count sedation, none really.
Other Negative Content: The Assassin’s Creed is that the assassins work in the shadows to serve the light, everything is permitted, and they’re not bound by morality. This mindset as you can imagine is a bit gray and would raise questions with younger viewers.
Positive Content: God gave man the gift of free will. He gave us the freedom to choose whether or not to do good or evil–even to choose whether or not to serve him. The Templars seek to take away man’s free will to end violence. This movie poses the interesting philosophical debate against obedience and free will. It’s definitely food for thought.

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Review

Callum Lynch is the last in a long line of assassins dating back centuries. After he is given the death sentence, the Templars discover him and take him to their research lab to use him to search for the legendary artifact, the Apple of Eden. Using the Animus, they delve into the memories of his ancestor Aguilar locked in Callum’s DNA. Callum is presented with two sides and two arguments of what is right: the Templar and the Assassins. Which will he choose? His choice could mean the fate of humanity’s free will.
A good number of the people I’ve spoken to do not like video game-based movies. There seems to be a common stigma around them that they’re just not good. Personally, I haven’t seen a bad video game-based movie, but I’ve only seen one. Trey Soto mentioned in BBOM that this may because the interaction is taken away from the viewer. I believe it’s because the movies try to be too much like the games and sacrifice their own uniqueness and creativity in the process.
I found Assassin’s Creed to have a good balance between game references and its own take. Instead of using a character from the games, they created Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender). They also utilized a new time period and location, that being 1492 the Spanish Inquisition. Having the characters only speak Spanish while in the Animus really created a sense of realism. I was afraid they weren’t going to do that since they would have to teach the actors the language, but Michael Fassbender did excellently with his Spanish lines.
The plot was similar to the games, but also spent more time developing the characters outside of the Animus such as other assassin descendants and the villains. On the other side of the spectrum, this didn’t allow as much character development for Aguilar and Maria as I would have liked. However, I loved the bits of story we did see of him.  Though Callum is supposed to be the main character, the sweeping wide shots following an eagle and the scenes with Sofia (the Templar scientist) allude to a dual point of view. I would have preferred to be closer to Callum and Aguilar like the original games, but I did enjoy seeing the behind the scenes of the villains’ plans. We saw more about the ideals of the Templars which allowed another point of view to be put in place.
Alluding to the games, Aguilar uses a lot of the signature Assassin’s Creed moves such as the blade kill, pushing crowd members to the side, parkour, and, my personal favorite, the leap of faith. These made me smile and the leap of faith particularly gave me chills. Like in the games the assassin descendant uses these skills in modern day as well as he begins to sync with his ancestor. However, I would have liked to see more of Aguilar’s life such as his family and so forth.
Another thing I liked was showing the physical repercussions of the Animus. The Animus has a new design that allows the user to move physically while regressing. Callum endures hallucinations like in the games, but also short-term paralysis and seizures. I thought this added another dose of realism to the story. Lastly, I’m a bit disappointed with the score. Assassin’s Creed has a very iconic soundtrack and though the film had similar instruments, I would have liked to hear the theme.
Overall, I enjoyed the movie. Was it superb? No. Was it terrible? No. Did I enjoy it as a fan of the games? Very much so.

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Positives

+ Michael Fassbender's acting is very good and he makes a great assassin + Plot refers to the games, but is also unique + Lots of references to the games

Negatives

- I wanted more time in the Animus - The score didn't refer to the video game's score

The Bottom Line

Assassin's Creed was an enjoyable movie. It wasn't amazing, but as a fan of the games it was a fun watch.

 

7.4

Victoria Grace Howell

Victoria Grace Howell is an artist and aspiring speculative fiction writer. She received Teen Writer of the Year in 2014 at the Florida Christian Writers Conference , a conference she attended since 2010, and the Believers Trust Award in 2015. When she's not writing her books or articles, she enjoys drawing her characters, playing the piano and practicing Kung Fu.

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