One of the first rules of gaming is it is more fun to play the game rather than watch someone play it. This is but one of the chief reasons why games are rarely adapted for cinema. Still that does not stop some brave folks from trying to break the curse and that is certainly not the case with director Justin Kurzel and his upcoming action adventure film Assassin’s Creed.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the AC franchise, it follows the story of a modern day man Desmond Miles who is captured by the ominous corporation Abstergo. Desmond is forced to use a machine known as the Animus which allows him to relive the memories of a long distant ancestor and assassin Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad.
So on face value the plot itself is silly enough to make it on a gaming platform but I am skeptical whether it would make it on film. Judging from the trailer, I see many similarities with the original game. Callum Lynch played by Michael Fassbender takes on a similar role to Desmond and is forced to relive the memories of his ancestor Aguilar de Nerha. Instead of taking place in the era of the third crusade in Jerusalem, Acre and Damascus, the film appears to be set during the Spanish Inquisition. Credit to Kurzel for not going completely by the book.
Still I cannot help but be skeptical. Logically it can be easy to conclude that a great game would make a great film but I feel that such reasoning is flawed. There is a crucial interactive element in gaming that is simply not achievable in film. Imagine, if you would, a The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time movie. A great game to play but as a film it would be exceptionally boring. It would be little more than Link trekking around Hyrule and completing temples. I cannot help but wonder if the AC film will pan out like a game on the big screen, with Aguilar having to complete ‘levels’, so to speak, before progressing to the next area.
Yet if Kurzel can effectively present the essential ingredients that made AC such a hit on the console then there might be hope for it on the big screen. But what are these ingredients? They are action, parkour, stealth, and plenty of it. From my memory of the games, I always felt a rush during a rooftop chase. If Kurzel can invoke this same sense of excited urgency in his audience, then he will likely succeed in making a pretty decent action film.
And with the star power of Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, perhaps there’s even more hope.
Having to appease fans of the franchise as well as creating a film that is accessible and welcoming to newcomers will ensure that the creative team will have their work cut out for them.
On a side note I hope Aguilar does not share Altaïr’s weakness in being unable to swim. Seriously does nobody find it strange that a man who dives off buildings into bales of hay can’t make it in water?