“Welcome to the Spanish Inquisition” – Assassin’s Creed (DVD Review)

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Here we go again; another video game to movie adaptation in the pipeline, another one to compare to the roaring critical successes of Warcraft, Prince of Persia, Resident Evil and co. Oh, wait a minute… this one is much better than those right?

Michael Fassbender stars as Cal, dodging death row in an effort to be apart of a new-age technological advancement where he travels back in time to 15th Century Spain through a revolutionary technology which unlocks the genetic memories contained in his DNA. There, he lives out the memories of his ancestor Anguilar de Nerha, a member of the Assassins, a secret society that fights to protect free will from the power-hungry Templar Order.

Transformed by the memories from the past, Cal begins to gradually gain the knowledge and the skill to combat the paralleled oppressive organisation in the present.

Director Justin Kurzel re-teams with Fassbender after their critical smash Macbeth, a swerve to an infinitely alternative route regarding storyline but ideals regarding ambition are confidently on track. Assassin’s Creed, a highly popular video game staple amongst fans of the platform, is undoubtedly a peculiar piece in which it has always attempted to create something original and outlandish when challenging its gamers, so why should this be any different in a transfer to screen?

Macbeth’s screenwriter Michael Lesslie collaborates with Allegiant and Exodus writers Adam Cooper and Bill Collage to create an effortless transformation in which Assassins screen versus Assassins game is an actual accurate representation, instantly domineering the screen with a swooping aerial sweep of its grand scale in the 15th century and portraying immediately those ultimate breathtaking feels that are carried to soaring heights from the games themselves. Hooked to the Animus, the contraption which allows time travel itself, Cal’s immediate counterpart takes the brunt of the interest of the Assassin’s plot, but amidst an already convoluted plot this thread bares only minimal screen time. Though it harbours an infinitely more entertaining side of the story, this character doesn’t nearly provoke as much of a narrative buzz to fully make this plot a cohesive one, just a pretty one.

Back in reality, however, we have a curiously villainous Jeremy Irons and the always stunning Marion Cotillard portraying those in charge of the Animus, perpetually pushing Cal to unleash the memories harboured within. Its layered storytelling, ambition and genuine push for originality is glaringly valiant, but cracking a smile often springs to mind throughout a two-hour duration. The relentlessly oppressive group looming over Cal appears to have disseminated and veined itself into a plot to create a hybrid of two negatives: preposterously gloomy and perpetually cheerless. And amongst its gloom, there’s a definitive silliness, a wholehearted goofiness that wavers itself fancifully that taints what should have been a riveting, meaningful transfer to the big screen.

It’s certainly a rise above of all others that have come before it, and Kurzel and co’s collaborated efforts to bring forth something which requires careful concentration to understand what can only be described as a culminated semi-coherent plot is a courageous move. Maybe once the initial explanations are out, a sequel can progressively move forward and skip the hokum.

Dir: Justin Kurzel

Scr: Michael Lesslie, Adam Cooper, Bill Collage

Cast: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, Charlotte Rampling

Prd: Jean-Julien Baronnet, Patrick Crowley, Frank Marshall

Music: Jed Kurzel

DOP: Adam Arkapaw

Country: USA

Runtime: 115 minutes

Assassin’s Creed is available on Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital now.