Review – Assassin’s Creed (2016)

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assassins-creed-57456815b7652When it comes to video games, I’m very particular when it comes to the choices of games that I play. Typically, I like cinematic games and not shooters, RPGs, or god forbid farm simulators. I like things that are cinematic, that feel like you’re watching not only a movie, but a pretty epic movie at that. One of the very first games that changed the way we saw video games was arguably Assassin’s Creed. This was the first games that I saw change the way you simply moved around. The walking was impressively smooth and human-like, the climbing and jumping around was impossible to imagine the creation of the video game. Yet, countless games have incorporated those new “standards” for their own games. To name a couple, the Uncharted series, and the new Tomb Raider series..but the games are growing in numbers. That being said, I never really played much of Assassin’s Creed, but I do like the series. This movie was pretty bashed on by critics, so the real question is…how did I like it, being a fan of the games? Let’s get into it.

Through Abstergo a company that creates a revolutionary technology that unlocks his genetic memories, Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) experiences the memories of his ancestor, Aguilar de Nerha (Aguilar Of Nerha), in 15th Century Spain. Callum discovers he is descended from a mysterious secret society, the Assassins and Templars, and amasses incredible knowledge and skills to take on the oppressive and powerful Templar organization in the present day. Written by 20th Century Fox (IMDb)

PEOPLE
★★★★★★

This category is all about the people in the film. This covers their acting ability, if the characters themselves are any good, if they work well together as a team, if they are deeper or flatter as characters, and if the casting director even did their job right. These are all very important issues to consider while reviewing film.
  1.  Acting: ★★
    • Up first is acting, and one of the first things that surprised me. Video game movies don’t typically have the best track record with their acting, and truthfully, I think Assassin’s Creed actually excelled here, and a lot of that had to do with Fassbender’s portrayal of his character. Surprisingly, though, a lot of the other players had a decent grasp on their ability to act as well, so well done. Two stars.
  2.  Characters: ★★
    • How do you get a video game series to advance and make multiple continuances? Well, a lot of things, but one of those things is character. The same goes for film, are these characters memorable? Yeah, actually, more than I thought they’d pull off.  From the assassins in the past to their ancestors to the scientists in the present…it all equals out to a pretty expansive cast of characters that are all pretty good. Two stars again.
  3. Good Casting: ★★
    • Here’s another surprise. I was convinced anyone could have played these roles just as well, but I honestly believe that if it had a different cast, the entire atmosphere of the film would change, and not necessarily for the better. I honestly thought, while watching, that this cast may just be right for these roles…and I can’t dock any stars for this – two stars again.
  4.  Good Importance: ★★
    • Next up is importance. Does everyone have their own independent reason for being there? Yeah, actually, again…another surprise. Both of the scientists had individual reasons for being there, all of the assassins had individual personalities and purposes, and of course Fassbender had the most depth, but that’s normal. Two stars again, very impressive.
  5.  Good chemistry: ★★
    • While this isn’t a huge surprise, it wasn’t something that was ultimately really necessary in my opinion, but they pulled it off nonetheless. Fassbender has some pretty fantastic chemistry with everyone around him, and they even have great chemistry with the others as well…making “PEOPLE” a clean sweep category. Two stars.

WRITING
★★★★★★

This category obviously covers the writing aspect of the critique. First, you want to know a little bit about the script. Specifically, how is the dialogue? Are they saying anything memorable or inspirational…or was it just a bland conversation to keep the story going? How was the story itself? Was it well-balanced or over-convoluted? Was it original? Was it even interesting? Once again, all very important questions
  1.  Dialogue: ★★
    • This wasn’t phenomenal by any means, but it did have some nice lines in there that actually pulled me in a bit more than I thought it would. That, to me, is specifically a positive thing. So, for dialogue, I give it two stars.
  2.  Good Balance: ★☆
    • The first one-star subcategory is the balance, and that’s because it does get a little convoluted in its storytelling. That’s almost expected, given the source material. The entire thing is about two shared lives, with a ton of people in both lives…making that a lot of setting switches and characters overall – so trying to keep track of everyone and everything can potentially be a little confusing.  One star here.
  3.  Good Story: ★★
    • I definitely liked the story here, which I feel like they did a good job at focusing on in the film, and that’s mostly what the scientists are doing this experiment for. I won’t dive too deep into it, but that’s ultimately what this movie is about, and I’m a big fan of that. Two stars.
  4.  Originality: ★★
    • Here’s one of the main subcategory people are going to argue with me about. Not only is this exactly like the video games, but it also feels a bit like the Matrix as well. While this is all true, I think there’s enough originality in there to actually make this movie feel original anyway. I’ll expand on that a little in the specialty categories. Two stars.
  5.  Interesting: ★★
    • This film interested me more than I ever thought it would. Critics were bashing it, the trailers weren’t really proving it wasn’t a video game trailer…so I wasn’t ever sure what this movie had in store. However, once we transported into modern day stuff, I could tell the difference, and I was pulled in enough to consider this interesting. Two stars.

BEHIND-THE-SCENES
★★★★★★★

Never forget that there are hard-working individuals working on this film day in and day out. It’s a great story, yes, but people helped make that possible. People like the directors, who have to take written word on a script, and somehow translate that for the big screen in a way an audience would understand. Editors, who are given a ton of material and expected to further make that idea and image the director has already – into a reality, like the director of photography, whose job is to make this movie look amazing…whether that means natural settings and landscapes, CGI, 3D, technical effects, or otherwise. The production crew, who are in charge of making advertisements that aren’t false, and don’t give too much away. Finally, the sound crew, who are in charge of everything the audio has – sound effects, sound editing, music, you name it. These are all puzzle pieces.
  1. Visuals: ★★
    • For them to make this movie look so much like the video game should be noted for the visuals. Not only that, but what that ultimately means for what occurs in modern day. It’s not the best CGI, but it’s pretty memorable regardless, which I consider two stars.
  2.  Directing: ★★
    • The director was able to pull the main story out of the video games, and give it the focus it needed to have in film, specifically. I’m very happy with how they dealt with that aspect. Two stars again.
  3.  Editing: ★★
    • I’d imagine this movie was probably somewhat difficult to edit because there’s just so much happening all at once. It’s easy to get mix up the storytelling with the editing, but as far as I could tell, they did a great job keeping everything intact and smooth. Two stars once again.
  4.  Advertisement: ★★
    • Let’s just put it this way. The trailers and the ads were made in a way to attract the gamers specifically. The trailers legitimately looked exactly like the games – but in a good way. They looked like another game is coming out, come and play it.  The movie itself is actually a lot like the game, but it’s also like a movie in the right places, making the advertisement sort of smart and accurate. Two stars.
  5.  Music: ★☆
    • I wanted to give this two stars, but for the most part, the music wasn’t anything impressive to the point of wanting to hear the music again, specifically. So, enough to make the movie feel right, but not good enough to buy the score. One star.

NARRATIVE ARC
★★★★★★★★

Have you ever been left wondering what it was about a film that felt…off, but you couldn’t place what it was? Well, a lot of people actually aren’t educated on the traditional narrative arc structure – which is seen in almost every movie or book story. With a missing piece, you might not understand what feels missing.
  1.  Introduction: ★★
    • The introduction introduced us to both timelines and mostly just Fassbender’s character, and where he’s at in the beginning of the film, and also how he got to that point. Two stars.
  2.  Inciting Incident/Crossing the Threshold: ★★
    • This happened when Fassbender’s character’s death was faked, and ultimately when he was held as a prisoner in the science lab. It was more of one action because it happens so fast, but they are both sort of the same thing here.  Two stars.
  3.  Obstacles: ★★
    • This is the easiest thing to spot…he heads back to the past to learn something else, which ultimately furthers the story. These are our obstacles.
  4.  Epiphany/Climax: ★★
    • No spoilers – something pretty awesome happens here. Two stars.
  5.  Falling Action: ☆☆
    • The movie just ends after the climax, so there isn’t any falling action.

OVERALL ENTERTAINMENT
★★★★★★★★

Here’s something most critics overlook because they’re always so keyed in on critiquing the technical elements of a film. Well, that may be statistically accurate, but the numbers that are released aren’t always reflective of what we enjoyed about it…which is when we say the movie was under-appreciated or whatever. This category focuses on pure entertainment.
  1.  Rewatchability: ★★
    • I wouldn’t just rewatch it, I’d seek it out to rewatch it, giving this both the two stars.
  2.  Fun: ★★
    • Assassin’s Creed, like the game it’s based on, is pretty fun. Two stars.
  3.  Impulse to buy it: ★
    • For this, I’d say maybe.
  4.  Impulse to talk to someone about it: ★☆
    • Once it was done, I talked to my brother about it, because he’d already seen it. I didn’t have to, but I did want to. So for this, it’s a one-star
  5.  Sucks the audience in:
    • In my opinion, it sucks you in as much as the animus sucks people into their ancestor’s lives. Two stars

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SPECIALTY QUESTIONS

These are special questions written by you before seeing the movie, based on expectations, questions, stereotypes, you name it. If it’s a Tom Cruise movie, have Cruise-isms, if it’s a horror film, ask how scary it is, if it’s a sequel, ask if it fits in with the universe or if it was even needed to begin with, you catch the drift.

MYSTICAL ARTIFACT
★★★★★★★★★★

SPECIALTY QUESTION #1

One thing you expect to happen in the movies is a quest for some mystical artifact like you’d normally see in Indiana Jones. Something religious themed and mystical, and in this film, we deal with the Apple of Eden, and it’s ultimate purpose I’ll keep secret…even though you know what it’s about in the first ten seconds, due to an opening scroll. Still, it has what I wanted to see there – ten stars.

CREED BASICS
★★★★★★★★★★

SPECIALTY QUESTION #2

When it comes to Assassin’s Creed, we expect to see a few things. Mostly, a lot of parkour moves, fight sequences and switching back and forth between history and modern day, which this film consists of. It doesn’t really have the stupid things like stealthily sitting on a bench in front of people that are trying to find him and he seems invisible to them. Nothing like that, but everything else is there. Ten stars.

VIDEO GAME
★★★★★

SPECIALTY QUESTION #3

This is probably my biggest docking of points/stars. The category on video game movies. They made the animus in this film more like a video game console than in the games, which you just lie down and experience your history. In this, he gets all hooked up like he’s about to play this big expansive virtual reality game. The problem with that is, it looks like a video game, which brings you out of the film. People will think that’s how the game works, and it’s not really. So for this, I have to only give it five stars.

ACTION
★★★★★★★★★★

SPECIALTY QUESTION #4

Next up is action. It’s an action movie, so how do they deal with action? Very well. Both in the history and in the modern day as well, there’s a ton of great action sequences. It was expected beforehand, and it didn’t let me down. 10 stars.

HALFWAY DECENT
★★★★★★★★★★

SPECIALTY QUESTION #5

Last but not least, we ask if it was halfway decent overall, and in so many ways it was totally decent, screw the halfway nonsense. This was pretty decent overall, ten stars.

RATING: 89/100

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