When the Assassin’s Creed movie was announced, got its cast, and released its first trailer online, fans were optimistic that the film would be the first video game movie to break the so-called curse. For years, studios have tried to take concepts from successful video games and create a screenplay based on various degrees on the plot, characters, and settings. From Super Mario Bros. to Tron, from Street Fighter to Dragon Ball Evolution, very rarely have movies based on games been successful in the box office, let alone critically acclaimed.
It seemed like if there was going to be a video game movie that would break free of that negative perception, it would be this year’s Assassin’s Creed. First, it features a strong cast consisting of Michael Fassbender (X-Men: Days of Future Past, 12 Years a Slave), Marion Cotillard (Inception, Dark Knight Rises), and Jeremy Irons (Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, Margin Call). Second, the video game studio Ubisoft – the developer of the game series – was involved in the development of the film, helping 20th Century Fox link the movie faithfully to the lore of the Assassin’s Creed games. They also set the film to be within the same continuity of the games, giving it many sources upon which to integrate its story.
Whether you expected it or not, the first reviews have come in over the last couple of days and they have been less than favorable. As of December 20, the popular review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes has Assassin’s Creed rated rotten at 26 percent. Collecting the thoughts of credited reviewers, the site sums up the movie as “CGI-fueled” and “a joylessly overplotted slog.”
So it seems that the Assassin’s Creed movie suffers from the same things many Hollywood blockbusters suffer from today. One surprising criticism may be the overuse of CGI, as this movie was supposed to not have used much of it, especially during the scenes set in the past in Spain during the Spanish Inquisition. This was shared by Fassbender, according to CinemaBlend, where he stated that they wanted to “film it in an old school way as opposed to using a lot of special effects, because we feel like this genre is saturated with CGI so we wanted to go in a different route.”
As seen in the clip above, it is entirely possible that the perceived overuse of CGI may be attributed to going back and forth in between the past and the present day, which potentially disrupts the flow of the movie. New York Time‘s Glen Kenny adds to this, observing that “the cast spends an awful lot of time standing around and looking lost,” concluding his review by stating “I can only guess that they were following their director’s lead.”
Thanks to the stigma towards video game movies along with these early reviews, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Assassin’s Creed should make between $30 million to $35 million during the first week, unless the fans of the game series being the catalyst to bumping those numbers up.
If they do not, however, Assassin’s Creed looks to be another video game movie that could not find its way to being a critically good movie. The search for the correct formula continues and it is a wonder if movie studios should even bother continuing with video game adaptations. As the Associated Press‘s Lindsey Bahr notes in her review, the real mystery in Assassin’s Creed is “why so many talented thespians thought this was a good idea.”
Those who worked on the movie – Fassbender included – likely had plans for potential sequels. Based on critical responses, it will be interesting to see if we will be getting more Assassin’s Creed films in the future.
Assassin’s Creed arrives in theaters across North America on December 21, 2016.
[Featured Image by 20th Century Fox]