Since the dawn of time, video game film adaptions have suffered from the dreaded ‘video game movie curse’, a sinister condition that afflicts movies based on video game properties with a level of horror-inducing crappiness only seen in direct-to-DVD sequels like Starship Troopers 2 and Leprechaun 4: In Space (What’s that? You’ve never heard of those movies? Well, then rejoice, for thou hath truly been blessed by the Lord. Hallelujah!!!). From House of the Dead, to Tomb Raider, to Super Mario Bros., almost every attempt that has been made to transfer a video game story onto the silver screen has ended in disaster… but what if the curse has finally been broken?
Some lucky fans got to attend the New York City world premiere of the upcoming Assassin’s Creed, Hollywood’s latest attempt to break the curse. Set in both the modern day and the Spanish Inquisition, the story follows Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender), a death-row convict kidnapped by the modern-day Knights Templar (or Abstergo Industries) to help them find a powerful artifact by reliving the memories of his 15th century ancestor, Aguilar, a member of the Order of Assassins, which happens to be the mortal enemy of the Templars. Normally, this is where I would say that these fans walked out of the theater with bitter disappointment on there faces, but apparently, this wasn’t the case. In fact, by most accounts, it seems they actually loved it.
Other than being entertaining, the highest praise the film got was for staying faithful to the story and tone of the games, with some twitter users like “Melonie Mac” and” Taskuigirl Cosplay” stating that the film “definitely earns its spot in the Assassin’s Creed universe” and “gets so many things right”, respectively.
— Tasukigirl Cosplay (@Lorie_O) December 14, 2016
WOW! The @AssassinsMovie definitely earned its spot in the Assassin's Creed universe. Freaking PHENOMENAL!I am SO excited they did it right!
— Melonie Mac 🦉 (@MelonieMac) December 14, 2016
— NukemDukem @ EA Play (@NukemDukemz) December 14, 2016
For an outsider, those statements would mean nothing, but for anyone that is well versed in the video game industry, that is very high praise indeed, especially considering that this film supposedly takes place in the same continuity as the world of the video games. Though it’s a shame that video game movies never seem to find their stride, it’s understandable if you think about it.
Films and video games tend to be written very differently. One is a purely visual and sound-based medium, the other an interactive one. The plot must literally be structured around the gameplay, so when you take those two conflicting natures and throw a Hollywood studio into the mix, that studio ends up either having too much haughty contempt for video games in general to take the story seriously (like many people in our sports-obsessed culture), or just being pressured by unrealistic deadlines and most likely cigar-smoking suits to just come up with something that will make money fast, resulting in an inferior product.
The difference this time around is that Ubisoft (the company that developed the Assassin’s Creed games) have deeply involved themselves in the making of this film, to the point that they demanded 20th Century Fox grant them full creative control over the script, the cast, the budget, and judging from the trailers, probably the costumes and art design as well. This production style is fairly unprecedented, since most studios want final creative say in the product, ensuring that what they want (though not necessarily what the fans want) goes into the film.
If this film succeeds, its production methods could possibly become the gold standard for how video game films are made, prompting more video game developers to allocate their resources to funding their own films and increasing the chances that the property is treated with respect. As a fan of the games myself, I’ll have my fingers crossed when I check this one out, and encourage you to give Assassin’s Creed a chance as well; because even if it turns out to be a disappointment, there’s no way it’ll be that bad right? Right?
Assassin’s Creed will open in theaters this December 21st.