Stunning costume and set design is present throughout. As is some
Assassin's Creed, the video game turned film that was intended to break the video game film curse, the very same film that has been taking a hammering from critics. Many claiming it to be an incoherent and hard to understand mess and others hammering it for its acting among other factors. First before I get into the meat of this review I fell obligated to note that I am someone who has played and enjoyed several of the games, so I likely take some level of baggage into the film.
Assassin's Creed stars Michael Fassbender as Calum and Marion Cotillard as Sofia, a Templar who has kidnapped Calum with the hopes of finding the location of an apple of Eden artefact she thinks can cure violence. Why she suspects or believes this is sadly not present in the film, which lives her reasoning for searching for this artefact questionable at best. None the less Calum is put in a machine called the Animus and relives the history of an ancestor of his from over 500 years ago in Spain. How this works isn't really explained in much detail (as it is in the first game) and it really should have been. As it stands it likely well feel a little silly to people new to this fiction as well as being reminiscent of the Matrix films. It none the less all flows rather nicely and is a core component of every Assassin's Creed that you have to be willing to accept to have any chance of enjoying the rest of the film. It simply needed a better explanation as to how it worked for newcomers.
Whilst Assassin's Creed boasts a strong and exceedingly credible cast,
the performances are at times uneven.
The pace is swift and we are quickly introduced to Aguilar, Cal's descendent in the past sequences. These sequences are those which mostly focus on high levels of action, which is fast frenetic and enjoyable if a little over edited. The visual pizzazz on display is quite the feast for the eyes, the costume and world design of 15th century Spain is fantastically dirty, dusty mess. This contrasts nicely with the overly sterile appearance present in the modern segments. Both of which are nicely complement by the score by Jed Kurzel, the directors brother.
Unfortunately as the sequences set in the past start to build some solid traction the film either cuts to Calum doing the same actions in the Animus machine, or much like the game returns as to the modern portion of the film where we come to a screeching halt. It is not that these sequences are bad per se, they certainly are far better then such sequences in the game series. But I can't help but find the return jarring that left me wanting more time with Aguilar as apposed to Cal. It certainly doesn't help that the performances are at times uneven, though unlike some reviews I was never confused by what was happening. Though perhaps this is due to my familiarity with the game series, I still none the less find it suspect that some have claimed the films story is difficult to follow (much like happened with the first Silent Hill film).
No doubt a gorgeous film, but sadly hurt by some overly frantic editing.
Sofia and the Templars search for the apple of Eden all which leads to a finale that is surprisingly restrained which I found quite refreshing in a market of blockbusters that far to frequently have city's crumbling. All of which adds up to an experience that is a visual and audio thrill ride that is largely only let down by it's previously mentioned issues resulting from some overly aggressive editing, uneven performances and characters that simply aren't as fleshed out as they really should have been.
Assassin's Creed is far from a masterpiece, it however is also hardly the disaster many have painted it as. It is undoubtedly a flawed film. Maybe I am simply being blinded by my enjoyment of the games, but I found the film to be a flawed but none the less enjoyable film that has a great sense of style present throughout along with some solid action. For some that may not be enough, which is understandable. None the less Assassin's Creed comes tentatively recommended.
What about the 3d? I sadly was not able to see this film in 3d, but based on the trailer I have seen in the format along with comments from people who have seen it in 3d, it certainly seems to be a film that best seen in that format if you are indeed choosing to give this film a watch.