Saturday, 7 January 2017

My Review of The Assassin's Creed movie

Assassin’s Creed: A review

Assassin’s Creed, the movie based off the games of the same name, released a few days back in 2016. For fans of the series, it was released the same day that Desmond Miles opened the Grand Temple in Assassin’s Creed III.

Despite critics giving it poor ratings and writing it off as another failed video game movie, it is everything but. It was specially mentioned that the movie doesn’t have anything to do with the games which have been released, but is a part of the same universe, and the movie doesn’t disappoint.

It even plays out like an assassin’s creed game. In the beginning we get a glimpse of what the memory inside the Animus is like, followed by an introduction of the real time character protagonist, and then begins the plot.

So let’s start at the beginning. All assassin’s creed games are divided up into memory sequences. Within the Animus memories, the local languages are made into English for the gamer’s convenience. However, with the movie, it remained true to the actual memory of the ancestor being revisited. It’s a nice touch, I thought.

The sequence of events is so clear and cut in the movie that I am seriously expecting an Xbox 360 notification in the corner of the screen somewhere, saying “Achievement Unlocked.”

Now. A few things about this movie really stand out to me, and I have both good and bad things to say about this movie, but the good far outweighs the bad.

Firstly, the direction and the editing. Critics gave the movie a low rating, saying that the movie spent more time in the real world than inside the memory of the ancestor. I have to say, this is true, but the generalization is unjustified.

The way the direction and editing of the movie are done, it seamlessly switches between the Animus memory and the real world, so you have one moment where a polearm swing starts off with Aguilar, and ending with Callum lynch, showing how the animus works at synchronizing the memories of both ancestor and descendant. So, a lot of the scenes were never really 100% inside the animus, like what we find inside the games, leading to the generalization of “65% of the movie is in the real world, and not in the animus.”

The second thing I liked about this was the Animus. In the games, all of them till Assassin’s Creed III, we had an animus which would make the subject in an almost comatose state as he/she would progress through the memories of his/her ancestor. Basically the memories would be visible to the subject only in their mind, and these memories would show up as electrical data and viewed and recorded by whoever was monitoring the situation outside the Animus.

Not the best way to go about in a movie. People were complaining about the premise of the movie already, and now we want to add the whole “Wait. He went to sleep, and woke up with super agility and strength? Is this a remake of The Matrix?” to the mix? Nope.

The new animus actually features a movable arm which helped the memories take shape in a semi physical form, visible to the observers directly, instead of through a monitor. Again, coming back to the visuals and the direction, this was amazing.

The fight scenes, both big and small, had the audience at the edge of their seats. The combat shown was incredible and looked incredibly realistic and not drawn out or over exaggerated like most other films tend to do.

A lot of people said that they didn’t understand the movie because they didn’t play the game beforehand. Now, most likely these are the same people who would be marching up and down the aisle screaming the words “video game movie curse” to anyone who would listen, but that’s not the point I’m trying to make here. A lot of terminology that game fans are familiar with have been mentioned and explained, like the Bleeding Effect, the leap of faith, and the Apple of Eden.
The actual plot is actually pretty simple. The movie revolves around one thing mainly: finding the Apple of Eden. That’s what the Templars’ Abstergo foundation want. That’s what the majority of the movie is about. The whole part about meeting other assassins in the facility, and seeing the switch at the end of the movie made it better than just having everyone parading around like NPCs.

Characters are pretty good as well. We don’t have the single minded evil scientist in Sophia Rikkin, which we saw in Warren Vidic. We have a protagonist character with a past, and character development, and an actual personality. We had side characters who brought a lot to the movie.

The bleeding effect shown in the movie was very well thought out and executed. Instead of having personalities of the old assassins threatening to overwrite the subject’s mind, it shows up as hallucinations which don’t cause nearly as much damage as they did in the games.

The movie plays out like the game, and to veteran Assassin’s Creed players, you can even mentally distinguish between the memory sequences. However, there are a few things which don’t sit well with me about the movie.

The length. While the movie is about one hour and fifty minutes, I feel like the movie was focusing entirely on the main plot of an AC game, and not bothering to deal with any of the side quests. Yes, the movie was amazing, but I would have liked to have seen some more of the scenes between each memory sequence of the Assassin Aguilar.

The bleeding effect and the Abstergo industry. Now, I did praise the inclusion and execution of both above, but there were a few drawbacks and flaws which I thought were pretty obvious. Abstergo has been the face of the Templars in the 21st Century, and no longer officially go by the name “Templars.” The setting of Abstergo: Spain was very well done, but it looked a lot like a reuse of the models used by Castle Sant’Angelo (the one from Brotherhood)’s interior, and the abstergo facility from AC III. I would have liked them to have gone for a more modern and unique look for the facility, but maybe I’m just asking for a bit much.

Most assassins in the games are shown to have three abilities that set them apart from everyone else: free running, combat mastery, and the eagle vision. Through the bleeding effect, these abilities are passed on to the subject inside the animus. Callum Lynch was bestowed with both free running and combat mastery, but throughout the movie there was never any mention of eagle vision. Once the movie started and the first two sequences had been completed and we saw the way the free running and combat was being transferred, I was eagerly looking forward to how the movie would showcase the eagle vision. Suffice to say, I was incredibly disappointed that it never made an appearance. I mean, sure, leaps of faith, and free running are iconic to the Assassin’s Creed universe, but so is possession of the Eagle Vision! Hopefully they add this in the upcoming movies.

Lastly, the presence of Michael Fassbender himself. It seemed there was a bleeding effect between the real world and the movie of sorts as well. Fassbender, known for his iconic portrayal of the mutant Magneto in X Men: First Class, Days of Future Past and Apocalypse, seems to have some of that fame pass on to the movie. Don’t get me wrong, his acting was phenomenal, both as Lynch and Aguilar.
However, in the movie, there was…
The security guards were carrying batons, and the plastic and glass ones. Similar to the ones we see in the X men movies when Magneto is kept under guard. Towards the end, you had a security officer in the 21st Century, shooting with a Crossbow. A Crossbow. Miniature, and possibly made entirely from fiberglass or other light materials. There was also a lack of any firearms.
Yes, there was a notion that none of the patients should be harmed or had unnecessary force exerted on them, but there was no contingency for having actual firearms in case of an emergency?
People at Abstergo acting like Michael Fassbender was still Magneto, with the ability to take their guns and shoot them with it. The management of the Abstergo facility seems to be either really lazy, or really stupid. The inclusion of a crossbow in the 21st century was appalling to say the least.

So in conclusion, I have to say that the movie was amazing. I don’t know what most of the critics were thinking when they gave this movie a bad review and rating. Most of the reviews given seem like they were already of some biased opinions before going to see the movie, and in some form, contemptuously looking at the movie for being based off a game. People also saying that the movie ended without closing all loose ends, despite the fact that the movie was intended to be a part of a trilogy and not as a standalone movie.

Yes, I can accept that out of 10, 2 points can be taken off for not including the eagle vision, the inclusion of the crossbows and pretending that it was Magneto not Callum Lynch they had imprisoned, and the weird potential romance between Lynch and Sophie Rikkin.
A good movie, worth watching in the theatres. Probably not in 3D because most 3D glasses tend to make the scenes darker and less visible than they ought to.

Laa shay’a waqui’un matlaq bale kouloun moumkin.

Nothing is true. Everything is permitted. 

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