By Danyel Poindexter, Staff Writer
All the major gamers out there know that on December 21, “Assassin’s Creed” hit the movie theaters. For those who lack knowledge of the gaming world, “Assassin’s Creed” is a 2007 action-adventure stealth video game that was released on November 13 of that year. It was developed by Ubisoft Montreal and Gameloft and is still available on consoles PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, and iOS.
The first game introduced a fictional history of real-world events that chronicled the struggle between the Assassins and the Templars. The Templars desired to obtain peace through control but the Assassins retaliated, desiring peace through free will. From this beginning, many games were to follow.
The movie features Cal Lynch, our prominent character played by Michael Fassbender, who travels back in time to 15th century Spain through a device called the Animus, which unlocks genetic memories contained in the DNA from his ancestors. Cal is taken by a scientist, Sofia, played by Marion Cotillard, after being sentenced to death. He awakens in a facility where he learns about the Assassin’s Creed and how his ancestor is a part of it. Though Sofia tells him she wishes to find the cure to violence, there is a larger secret to finding the ‘Apple,’ a device that unlocks the genetic codes to free will, than even she is aware of. Cal’s ancestor was the last to have it in his possession. Through the Animus, Cal must live out the experiences of his ancestor, Aguilar de Nerha, as the assassin that he was and discover the secret society that fights to protect free will.
The movie opens with a subtle introduction about the induction of a new member into the Assassin’s Creed in Spain during the 15th century. Afterwards, the scenes play a game of back and forth between past and present events. Neither the beginning, nor its intended message, becomes blurry beyond explanation, which is a great way to start a film. The movie continues with a non-linear timeline that bounces back and forth between Cal’s current situation and when he entered the Animus. As for the action that occurs when he does travel through his ancestor’s memories; not bad. Actually, it was the highlight of the movie. The storyline for the film was clean and precise, but if you are a dedicated fan of the “Assassin’s Creed” gaming series, you might struggle a little at first to understand how they’re introducing some aspects of the game.
That small criticism is not something that should deter anyone from the movie. With the action scenes and plot set-up, the movie had few flaws. “Assassin’s Creed” is a step in the right direction for all video game movies. With a run time of two and a half hours, the movie covers a lot of ground that also provides room for further development of more films, though the company could stop at this movie alone and call it a promotion for those who have never played the games. Either way, it is a win. However, the character development of the movie could have been better planned.
The two Assassin’s Creed members who are in the facility before Cal, Moussa played by Michael Williams, and Lin, played by Michelle Lin have little to no stories. Though they may seem unimportant, these two characters are constantly highlighted throughout Cal’s stay at the facility. Moussa is a wise yet riddle-like character that appears to hold more valuable information about the secret society, and Lin is quiet but deadly. Her moves are more thorough yet covert. With a two-and-a-half-hour movie, there was plenty of time to develop their stories and explain their importance that gushes throughout the entire film. While it is important to highlight Cal— as the secret of the ‘Apple’ device surrounds his ancestors— the various other modern day assassins become lost in his feature. The only relevant assassin that is useful, shapes Cal’s character, and features more of a story was the 15th century Spain Maria, played by Ariane Labed. In fact, it could be said that her character hits the spotlight so much, it was a bit of a heartache not to see a future version of her.
As the movie relates to the video game, there could be some subtle improvements, perhaps to the Animus in particular, but all-in-all it was a great introduction film. As a film itself, it featured flawless action scenes with a clean plot, but it falls a bit flat with the character development. The cinematography was breathtaking, but it was unfortunate that you do not get a lot of free-falling scenes that peace together the trailers of this movie. The time of the movie is quite generous for the amount of work and story they put into it and Fassbender’s portrayal of both Cal and Aguilar’s characters and personalities were stunning.