Title: Assassin's Creed
HTS Overall Score:
The video game to movie adaptation world is a bit of a strange phenomenon. Video games are a unique medium that really is hard to replicate. You spend hours and hours playing a game, unearthing a character, and learning the intricacies that make up the world that they live in. You could say that the world building is something that is highly complex (if done right) and putting that type of visual flair and intense world building into a 2 hour or less film is something of an effort in futility. With that being said, some of my favorite “bad” movies are video game adaptations. There’s something about seeing your favorite game come to light on the screen even though you have to nitpick all of the failings of the endeavor as a “good” franchise fan. I love the “Resident Evil” films even though they’re NOTHING like the games they were based off of, and the 1990s “Mortal Kombat” is one of the guiltiest pleasures known to man (although the sequel was an abomination, even by my standards). “Assassin’s Creed” reminds me a lot of “Warcraft”. It tries to be better than the schlock that came before it, but much like “Warcraft” ends up being incredibly flawed in ways that counterbalance all the incredible world building that it attempts (something that has both films stand apart from the rest).
The original Assassin’s Creed video games were what I like to call a remote crusher. The games were a blast, filled with great mission based gameplay, but you wanted to crush your PS3/Xbox 360 controller with pure rage as trying to leap upwards had you leaping backward, or doing a dive tuck n roll from a rooftop had you somehow standing completely still. I still had a blast thought. Aguilar and the invention of the Animus was a fantastic piece of storytelling that allows you to tell a story across multiple timelines and combine the two, and the movie takes much of the BASIS for that first game and molds it into the film. Cal Lynch (Michael Fassbender) is a criminal who has just been sentenced to death, only to be rescued from his fate by Sophia (Marion Cotillard), a top scientist of the Abstergo Corporation in Spain. There he is given a second chance at life, but also remains a prisoner. A prisoner who is hooked up to a machine called the Animus and sent back in time to view the actions of his ancestor Aguilar, a member of the brotherhood of Assassin’s.
As the game continues Cal realizes that there is more to this than just experiencing the past. Sophia and her father Alan (Jeremy Irons) are after something. Something that is in his ancestor’s past. Something that intersects the happenings of 500 years ago, and what is still happening today. To make matters worse the Animus is giving Cal visions, or “ghost images” of Aguilar’s life. A life that is filled with blood, assassinations and the opportunity to be something more than just a petty criminal wondering how his life go so off course.
“Assassin’s Creed” is helmed by Director Justin Kurzel who also directed Fassbender in the modern rendition of “MacBeth”, and it’s a strange juxtaposition to see Fassbender and Kurzel in with a classic piece of literature and a modern video game movie. I won’t say that “Assassin’s Creed’ is a good movie, as it is heavily flawed, but I will say that I had a good time watching it. If you’re a fan of the video game franchise you’re sure to notice a lot of the discrepancies and changes to the source material. The idea of the Animas and Cal Lynch’s transformation into an Assassin is still there, but much of the complexity involved with that first video game is missing. Not to mention the fact that there are elements of the 2nd and 3rd game thrown into the mix and a whole new subplot involving Sophia, Alan and Cal is explored. I complained that “Warcraft” spent so much time trying to build a franchise and setup sequels that it failed to make a compelling narrative, and “Assassin’s Creed” suffers from many of the same missteps. So much time is spent developing the “apple” and it’s importance, as well as the creation of Cal into one of the new Brotherhood, that by the time the credits roll you realize that there wasn’t much time for anything else, and many strings are left dangling.
The core appeal of the movie comes from the nonstop action and the intense driven nature of Michael Fassbender in the role. While the plot is lacking in many ways, the action is top notch and the blending of martial arts, weapons play and parkour is a blast to watch. The best way of describing “Assassin’s Creed” is that it’s a check your brain at the door film for video game fans. It may have a harder time reaching mass audiences who have never seen the game or want a deeper plot, but if you’re expectations are in check and a big dumb action movie is all you’re expecting, then you should have a good time.
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, thematic elements and brief strong language
The multi camera shot film of “Assassin’s Creed” enjoys a healthy jump in video quality over the 1080p counterpart thanks to use of great cameras and full 4K master being used (something not every 4K UHD disc is allowed). The visual experience watching the 4K disc RIGHT after watching the 1080p disc makes for a very fresh image in the mind and the jump is VERY apparent. The extra lines of resolution and full HDR makes for a completely different experience. The dimness of the Blu-ray is still there, but everything just looks more vivid and detailed. The red stitching in Aguilar’s clothing is pop out of the screen brilliant, and all the exquisite shadow details seem so much more lifelike and fully formed In the smoky look of the film. The minimal color banding and crush that I saw in the Blu-ray is long gone and what is left is one of the better looking UHD discs of the year so far.
I said that the 7.1 mix for “Assassin’s Creed” was top notch in my Blu-ray review. I would have given it a 5/5 rating had there not been at Atmos track to compare it against, but with the 4K UHD disc we DO get an upgrade in sound as well as video. The incredibly immersive mix from the Blu-ray is still there, but we get MORE of the goodies. The directional sounds of the Animus come from ALL angle now, with the opening shot of the animus dropping down from above and sounding like it’s actually ON TOP of the listener rather than just in the fronts and surrounds. The battle for the young prince is incredibly diverse with arrows whistling from different corners of the room and Auilar leaping from above coming FROM above. LFE is still incredibly visceral and engaging and the vocals are never under any doubt. Simply put, a marvelous mix that has audible increases in quality between the two formats.
• Take the Pledge: Behind the Scenes of Assassin's Creed – Join the Brotherhood as you go behind the scenes of Assassin's Creed in a five-part documentary:
• Conversations with Justin Kurzel
• Deleted Scenes Converastion with Justin Kurzel and Justin Tellefson
• Deleted Scenes
• Theatrical Trailers
“Assassin’s Creed” is not a wildly intelligent movie. In fact, it’s really not THAT good of a movie to begin with. However, if you go in with the knowledge that this is a big, dumb, video game movie then it has a visual appeal and flair that really speaks to fans of the long-standing video game franchise. If you’re looking for a movie that is honestly a GOOD movie, then I’d certainly look elsewhere, but for what its offering “Assassin’s” creed is fun little action movie that gave the video game nerd in me a big happy. The 4K UHD is an amazing package, with great cover art and amazing technical specs. Easily the superior version between the Blu-ray and the 4K iterations (unless of course you like 3D, then that will way into your decision to forgo the better video and sound) My only complaint is the modern habit of leaving extras on the side lines and just giving us a pittance. Worth a rental for those inclined to enjoy these types of films.
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons
Directed by: Justin Kurzel
Written by: Michael Lesslie, Adam Cooper
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 HEVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Core), Spanish DD 5.1, Spanish, French, German, Italian DTS 5.1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Runtime: 116 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: March 21st, 2017
Buy Assassin's Creed On Blu-ray at Amazon
Buy Assassin's Creed On 4K Blu-ray at Amazon
Buy Assassin's Creed 3D On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Decent Rental
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