This is the trailer that got me to jump right into the Assassin’s Creed fandom, and I am so excited to go see it. That said, as much as I want this movie to be amazing, a really big part of me worries that it won’t be. The movie is supposed to premiere in December, right around the time Rogue One comes out—with that kind of competition, I can’t say I have too much hope the movie will do well. Mostly, however, while the Assassin’s Creed movie looks awesome, game-to-movie adaptations are rarely good, and I’m concerned the same will be true this time around as well.
The plot of this movie goes as follows: in the modern day, Callum Lynch is sentenced to death for murder, but instead of being executed, he’s taken by Abstergo, a Templar-run company, and plugged into the Animus. This allows him to view his ancestor’s memories. Both Callum Lynch and his ancestor Aguilar de Nerha are played by Michael Fassbender. This is really surprising to me, because for a game series that does really well with racial representation, the movie is almost entirely whitewashed. I mean, I’m happy that we’re also getting a woman Assassin and all, but she’s whitewashed too. It really shouldn’t be too hard to cast actual Spanish people to play Spanish characters, but I guess that’s asking too much.
Although most of the trailer takes place in the past, we don’t really learn all that much about the plot. Instead, we’re treated to scenes of the Assassins running around and doing iconic things from the video games. So it looks cool, but given other game-to-movie adaptation failures, I’m kind of worried the reason for this is because there’s nothing substantial in the movie plot-and-character-wise to add to the trailer.
I can’t say that every game-to-movie adaptation is bad, since I haven’t seen them all, but the ones I have seen are really awful. Resident Evil and Final Fantasy are some of the first things to come to mind. I can safely say that I didn’t hate the Tomb Raider movie, but I was pretty young when I saw it, don’t remember it all that well, and my child self was easily entertained by nearly anything. I’m not sure what about game-to-movie adaptations is so much harder than other movies, but I can take a guess.
Mostly, I would assume it’s the desire to provide fanservice. Fanservice is not necessarily a bad thing in small quantities, but when it comes at the expense of telling a story, it’s really awful. The Final Fantasy VII movie suffered for this—it tried to shove in every character possible in a short period of time, which resulted in them being worn down to about one character trait each. The movie also completely broke suspension of disbelief by making its characters DBZ-esque fighters, which really did not happen in the original story and was jarring to see the first time. And that doesn’t even mention its literal mountain of other problems. The same is also true for the Resident Evil movies. Both these films tried to look cool and held that to a higher standard than plot development, worldbuilding, or characterization.
I will be the first to admit that the aesthetics in this Assassin’s Creed trailer is what drove me to the games. And while the games also give into the coolness factor on more than one occasion, they do run for 30+ hours, which still gives them plenty of time for worldbuilding and character development. A movie doesn’t have that same kind of leeway. Despite having all these problems stacked against it, there are a lot of promising things about the Assassin’s Creed movie—despite being whitewashed, the cast is filled with some really good actors. Additionally, it’s not a remake of a game in movie-format. Instead, it’s an expansion on the Assassin’s Creed universe at large. This gives me hope that any kind of fanservice or lazy shortcuts in the writing will be kept to a minimum, since the movie doesn’t have to box itself in with preexisting characters or storylines. It’s also been in production a long time, which could mean that a lot of thought and effort has gone into it, or could mean that it’s had a lot of problems. I’ll probably go see Rogue One in December and hold off on this movie until I see other people’s reactions to it.