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Assassin's Creed

Opening Date
22 Dec 2016
PG13 Violence and Brief Coarse Language
116 mins
English with Chinese subtitles
Action, Adventure
Justin Kurzel
Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, Khalid Abdalla, Michael K. Williams
Through a revolutionary technology that unlocks his genetic memories, Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) experiences the adventures of his ancestor, Aguilar, in 15th Century Spain.  Callum discovers he is descended from a mysterious secret society, the Assassins, and amasses incredible knowledge and skills to take on the oppressive and powerful Templar organization in the present day.
By Freddy  22 Dec 2016
Its beautiful cinematography and enjoyable fight scenes does not make up for its uneven pacing and weak plot.
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Everyone says that films adapted from video games are cursed. Assassin’s Creed does not end that curse. It is rather unfortunate as Assassin’s Creed is, in many ways, an ideal game franchise to be adapted into films. The film also brings the Australian director Justin Kurzel and the star powers of Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, all of whom previously worked together on Kurzel’s critically acclaimed Macbeth film last year.

The film has a challenging task for laying out the whole mythology that the game has a lot more time to explore. It has to explain about Abstergo Industries, how the Animus machine works, the Apple of Eden, and the conflict between the Assassins and the Templars. Instead of leaving some of the explaining to the scenes set in the past or other characters, the film decides to let Cotillard’s character, Sophia Rikkin, take the burden of those lengthy expositions.

That points to one of the film’s biggest problem. The scenes set in Spain over 500 years ago during the Spanish inquisition, as Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) relives his ancestor’s memories, are the more interesting part of the film. However, those parts are shorter than expected and are largely plotless affairs. The film decides that those scenes would be purely relegated to action. It is a pity as it is an opportunity to explore the history of the Assassins and the Templars and how their conflict puts a twist on well-known historical facts, which is one of the main draws of the game.

The best aspect of Assassin’s Creed is its cinematography. The film is very stylish, especially in. The costumes and props support those scenes very well. The fight choreography in the Spanish scenes was impressive, despite some quick cuts being too frequent during the first few times. The camera usually manages to frame the actions beautifully, often reminiscent of the game. The fight scenes in modern day pale in comparison. The CGI is quite impressive as well, especially watching Callum in the Animus and one fight scene between Callum and Aguilar.

Both Fassbender and Cotillard act well in this film, which are to be expected from them. Cotillard is rather robotic at first, but soon we see more and more layers of Sophia and she ends up having a substantial character arc. She ends up being the most interesting character in the film. Fassbender plays Callum Lynch well enough and it is probably not his fault that Callum’s ancestor, Aguilar de Nerha, is written with zero personality. Assassin’s Creed’s plot is inherently problematic, especially in terms of its pace. At 116 minutes, there is plenty of time to do what they need to do.

There was a lot of exposition at first, which is expected as they need to establish the mythology. Nevertheless, there is approximately 45 minutes in the middle of the film in which there is very little plot progression both in the present day and in the past. The ending feels very rushed and unsatisfying, as if the film ends just when it is about to reach its climax.

Overall, Assassin’s Creed is a decent video game adaptation film compared to other who have failed. Some of its major faults, such as having no plot in the flashbacks and having a rushed ending, might be due to the fact that it is currently planned as the first film in a trilogy. Indeed, it would function a lot better as a start of a trilogy than a standalone film. Now that the expositions and set-ups are out of the way, if it does financially well enough to earn a sequel , we might actually get a good film in the second installment.
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