May 162017
 
Title: Assassins Creed
Genre: Action, Sci-fi, Thriller
Starring: Michael Fassbender,
Marion Cotillard,
Jeremy Irons,
Certificate: US: PG-13
UK: 12
Picture: 1080p
2.39:1
Audio Format: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
Subtitles: English.
Runtime: 1 Hour 50 mins
Extras: Featurettes,
Deleted Scenes,
Interviews,
Photo Gallery
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: USA: Mar 21 2017
UK: May 15 2017
See If You Like: Assassins Creed video games
Magneto Vs. the present…

Before it hit cinemas, it was touted as the great white hope of video game movies; the film we were all hoping would buck the trend of average-at-best video game-to-big-screen adaptations by giving us plenty of action, some great actors, and most importantly a great story to tie it all together; yet, Assassin’s Creed fails to live up to the hype, and delivers an obscenely bland console-to-cinema transaction which will bore even the hardiest of video game fans.

Rather than a straight adaptation of any of the Assassin’s Creed games so far, the movie presents us with a new protagonist; Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender, X-Men: Apocalypse); who, like those in the games, finds himself a prisoner of the Abstergo Corporation (a fictional company used as a front by the Knights Templars to handle some of their shady dealings) and is forced into a machine known as the animus, in order to play out the memories of his ancestor in the Spanish inquisition, in the hopes of finding a legendary supernatural artefact which became lost at the same time.

It’s an interesting and intriguing concept; not only are the historical aspects ripe for beautiful visuals and stunning action set-pieces, but boiling it down to one man’s fight for humanity against wold-dominating corporations is something which should speak to audiences everywhere nowadays; yet somehow Assassin’s Creed falls flat at every hurdle (not a good start for a film where free-running is such an important ingredient), and commits a cardinal sin for any big budget blockbuster – winding up slow, plotless, and infinitely boring.

While the games take place largely in the past (where the action is), the film decided it’d be better to focus on a charismatically-vacant protagonist; stuck in a cement-lined compound, itself filled with grey-jumpsuit-wearing nobodies and lacking the personality of your most drab and depressing prisons; an obviously poor decision from the get-go.

We should’ve had plenty of focus on the conspiracy; the age-old battle between the Templars and the Assassins, and how it’s shaped the society in which our various players reside; or even a simple prison-escape movie with an interesting twist. Instead, we’re forced to watch a misguided and pointlessly shifting father/daughter relationship (between the Abstergo-head played by The Borgias‘ Jeremy Irons, and The Dark Knight Rises‘ Marion Cotillard; who disagree on how far to push Callum), as we watch Callum slowly get his bearings (sure, Abstergo are bad – but how bad?). This present day/near-future focus, poor plot, and terrible pacing makes the entire affair feel dragged out, unnecessarily lengthy, boring, and serves as nothing but an obstacle to what people really want; just to see a Spanish assassin stab some wronguns and run up the side of a church.

Sure, we get a few action-filled sequences set during the Spanish inquisition and there’s no denying the action itself is stellar; quick, brutal, and enormously energetic; there are plenty of people killed, things blowing up, a pot full of parkour, an even an amazing leap of faith or two, The choreography is great, the effects are awesome, and the practical stunts are utterly amazing. The whole thing has the potential to be truly epic, but never quite reaches that potential because not only is the background story so bland we simply don’t care about the action, but the overly filtered, shockingly sepia, sequences have robbed the potentially vibrant palette of almost all colour, and any sense of life, personality, and indeed fun has been washed away with it.

The cast are fine; with high-calibre actors such as Fassbender, Cotillard, and Irons picking up the major roles there was never going to be any question of seeing a bad performance, and supporting stars such as Brendan Gleeson (Edge of Tomorrow), and Michael Kenneth Williams (12 Years a Slave), are all of a similarly high standard; but none of the actors are able to breathe life into such a misguided script.

Script issues are the main problem here; things like a questionable directing style, drab filters, and a climax which was not only inevitable but both dragged out and dull (because a weak first hour-and-a-half means no-one cares about the finale), could’ve been forgiven, but a poor plot cannot. Assassin’s Creed has fine actors, an acceptable score, some spectacular stunt work, an interesting premise and a wealth of lore to draw from, but in it’s attempts to forge an original identity, and a misguided focus on modern day events, it forgot where it came from, lost the fun of the games, and bored its audience senseless.

Picture:

Despite the ridiculous filters and barely lit interiors (which sometimes hamper the detail), close-ups are highly impressive, textures are well represented throughout, black levels are suitably deep, and there are no noticeably problematic transfer issues to speak of. Meaning Assassin’s Creed is presented here, as close to intended as possible – depressing filters and all.

Audio:

A solid all-round track, the DTS-HD Master Audio mix accompanying the Assassin’s Creed Blu-ray excels during the bustling action sequences (effectively utilising every available channel), and even manages to remain immersive in the more sonically-limited confines of the Abstergo compound.

Several impressive pans are used (best heard during the times Cal is thrown back into the past), each effect is well localised and prioritised, accompanied with weighty and not overused bass, as well as cleanly presented dialogue, making for a decent listen overall which should easily satisfy fans of the film.

Extras:

As well as a selection of entirely skippable deleted scenes, comes a few photo galleries (concept art, weapons, and unit photography), conversations with Justin Kurzel (discussions/dialogues with different crew members), and the crown jewel; a collection of featurettes (totalling 41minutes) providing a rather in-depth look at the production of Assassin’s Creed, containing a number of interviews with cast and crew members, and even Ubisoft personnel. All making for a decent and somewhat engaging collection of supplements, allowing any Assassin’s Creed fan to delve further into the movie’s production.

The Bottom Line:

Despite a decent video transfer, solid audio, and some fairly interesting and informative (though not entirely exhaustive) bonus materials, it’s difficult to recommend the Assassin’s Creed Blu-ray for one simple reason; the film itself is staggeringly dull. Want a more engaging story? more fun? something you’ll become more invested in, for longer? Pick up a Playstation, and play an Assassin’s Creed game.

Matt Wheeldon@TheMattWheeldon.

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