Warning: This review contains ranting and mild spoilers. Read at your own risk.
Before I get started on another of my infamous unpopular opinions, let’s get this out of the way: I rarely go into a movie theater expecting a movie to knock my socks off. I do this because I know that setting your expectations high leaves only room for disappointment. But don’t misunderstand. My expectations may be low, but my hopes are high. That is the attitude I have whenever I watch any movie for the first time. Especially Assassin’s Creed, which has no shortage of bad ratings. In addition, please refrain from flipping tables until the end of this review.
So here’s my unpopular opinion: Assassin’s Creed is a good movie. I really enjoyed it.
I liked the intensity, the acting, and the themes hidden in the plot. Though it remains only loosely based on its source material, its probably for the best. Movies are not video games. One critic ridiculously stated that the movie “mistakenly assumes that the plot is the most important element of the source material.” But we’re not talking about the source material, are we? We are talking about movies, in which the plot is the most important element. It would seem that to enjoy a movie based on another medium, one must forget everything they know about the source material. Every time I read a bad review on a movie based on something, it’s bad “because it’s too different from the source material.” Hmmm, maybe it’s because it’s not the same medium as the source material!
Sorry, I got a bit carried away there. You can probably tell I’ve got a chip on my shoulder when it comes to critics. I should probably talk more about the actual movie. Where was I? Oh right, “it’s only loosely based on the games.” Deviation from the source in the “game/book-to-movie” genre is not a compromise or fluke, it’s a feature. I think it was good that the story and several characters were original to the film. It would have been cool to see Ezio in a movie, but if we go along with what our buddy in the last paragraph said, these games aren’t particularly plot-focused. It would take a lot of forbearance and appreciation to just go with the writer’s idea of the story. And I don’t think the majority of people have a surplus of those qualities. I also give high praise to the Animus’ redesign (to the horror of every Creed fan reading this, I’m sure). True, a big mechanical arm sounds ridiculous in the context of the games, but in the movie, I think it fits in well. In the games, it’s just a chair that induces dreamlike visions. That could work in a movie, but when you aren’t immersed in a video game experiencing epic genetic memories, it doesn’t seem as interesting.
Overall, I liked the themes in Assassin’s Creed, too. I can easily see outrage warriors complaining about how it glorifies violence and proves that video games glorify violence. The movie says: Violence is one of the side effects of free will. Eliminate violence, and you eliminate free will, and thus, the essence of humanity. How’s that for problematic? The movie made good use of tropes (literary devices), including the Chekov’s “X” variants, which I found very satisfying. To me, the key to a bad movie is trying to avoid tropes.
The special effects in Assassin’s Creed are not nearly as crappy as I’ve been hearing. However, I believe that critics have it in for movies with partial CGI no matter what, because I have precious few reviews about any movie with green screen praising the effects. I, on the other hand, find it ridiculous to point out every single time the CGI doesn’t match up. It begins to sound like one is looking for things to complain about. I do think the eagle in several scenes looked a little obvious, but to condemn the whole movie’s effects because of it is a little much.
In conclusion, Assassin’s Creed is one of the best game-to-movie adaptations I’ve ever seen. It deviates quite a bit, but I feel that it stays true to the series’ themes and tone, which, in my opinion, is what matters in movies. Though I’ve only played Assassin’s Creed III, watching this movie reinvigorated my interest in this series. You can bet I will be investing in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, and I hear there is one releasing on the Nintendo Switch. At the risk of inciting the rage of “real” movie critics, I recommend Assassin’s Creed to anyone who wants to be entertained, and I will be buying the DVD/BluRay when it releases. I give it 4/5 stars overall.
“We work in the dark to serve the light. We are Assassins.”