A few days before Halloween, the 20th Century Fox YouTube channel posted a new video, “World of Assassin’s Creed”. In it, there’s some sexy new footage from the upcoming Assassin’s Creed film, releasing on December 21st. Co-producer and star Michael Fassbender also talks about the parkour elements we’re all expecting, and how crucial they are for the movie to be a true extension of the established game universe. The Fassassin has shown his concern for the nuances of porting from from console to screen before. In an interview with ComingSoon.net, he mentions that “We really want to respect the game and the elements to it… but we also wanted to come up with our own thing. And one thing I’ve sort of learned from doing the franchises like X-Men is that audiences, I think, want to be surprised and to see new elements of what they already know.”
This might immediately cause die-hards of the game series to get a little itchy and nervous. Understandable, but lets not forget Fassbender’s young Magneto in X-Men: First Class. We can all agree that the Frankenstein’s Monster scene in the South American bar was something we never knew we wanted. Can we expect the same kind of surprising depth from Aguilar?
Ubisoft promises that they’ve been kept in the creative loop—jury’s still out on whether that’s a good thing or not. There are some confirmed easter eggs from the game; keep an eye out for some of the more distinctive weapons from across the series. Iconic elements like Eagle Vision are also sure to play a part in the film, judging from the promotional imagery. Confirmed distinctions include the Animus no longer being a fancy chair, but rather an arm-like enclosure. Will these things strike a balance for the worst-episode-ever crowd? Maybe, but I think we have to ask ourselves something…
How much fan service do we want?
So how do we want to walk out of Assassin’s Creed? With that Zack Snyder’s Watchmen feeling of “Dear lord that movie has fattened my fanboy belly”? Or would we prefer the J.J. Abrams Star Trek feeling of “well that was a much better film than is nerdily acceptable”?
Let’s face it, game-to-film adaptations aren’t synonymous with Hollywood success. That’s not new. That’s since forever. The most recent debacle was the overwhelming failure of the Warcraft movie, a resounding domestic flop. The bottom line is that 20th Century Fox has one thing on its mind with the AC franchise, and that is, well, their bottom line.
The need for a non-gamer audience will be crucial if the series is to be a success—the first sequel is already in early production. To do that, the filmmakers have had to take a step back from the game in places. Like the Star Trek reboot, the main priority seems to be accessibility to the universe, rather than a Hardcore Henry gamer fantasy. Indeed, looking at the end of this new video, and at the most recent promo poster, the film seems to be setting up a simple light-versus-dark drama, not unlike Star Wars (coincidentally, Episode VIII filmed on the same set as the AC movie right after it wrapped).
Is that enough to make the AC film a financial success and a fan-pleaser?
At the very least, all the elements for both are in place. Both the stars, Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, have Oscar nominations–Cotillard won for La Vie en rose. The director, Justin Kurzel, directed the entirety of HBO’s True Detective season 1, including the unforgettable skinhead flop-house robbery scene. Additionally, he has worked with Cotillard and Fassbender before on Macbeth, the masterfully cinematic and interpretive adaptation of the play. Together, his accolades should make for a visually spectacular film that also handles action dynamically. I believe the choice to favor live-action versus CGI will pay off massively—for a prime comparison, watch the CGI garbagefest that is World War Z and then watch the low-fi Korean zombie thriller Train To Busan.
Inevitably there will be opinions in all possible camps after the film releases. With the previous work of the cast and crew, I’m confident it will at least be watchable. It’s not often that a game adaptation gets such relevant talent, and I think that’s pretty exciting. As a final testament to the promise this film shows, just check out this badass gif the AC official Twitter account posted on Halloween, and try not to cry over the lack of impossibly convenient carts of hay to dive into.