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RinoTheBouncer
12-29-2016, 06:21 PM
Thanks to Ubisoft and 20th Century Fox I was invited to the Middle East Premier in Dubai on December 27th.

Here's my take on the entire experience, dissecting everything from cinematography, plot, characters, directing and execution. Discussing the pros and the cons of the movie. Here's my personal review on the entire experience. Please note that there are spoilers regarding the plot. If you want to avoid spoilers, read the review here (https://goo.gl/LNmDUR), where spoilers are locked behind toggle buttons.


Introduction

After approximately 3 years of anticipation and expectations, the Assassin’s Creed movie has finally premiered. A movie that promised to challenge and overthrow the stigma following video game-based movies. After a attending the Middle East Premier of Assassin’s Creed Movie in Dubai, December 26th, thanks to Ubisoft and Fox, I’m going to explore the movie experience as a whole and in detail. Please be warned that there will be moderate spoilers, mainly in the story section:


The Visual Aspect


One of the most mesmerizing elements about the Assassin’s Creed Movie experience is the visual aspect. From cinematography, directing, filming, color grading, atmosphere, setting, outfits, character appearances and themes, the movie excels by presenting a work of art that is quite immersive and beautiful to look at. The contrast between the cold feel of the present day segments, often taking shades of blue while the historical segment leaning towards a warmer color palate, similarly to the movie 300, highlights the differences between the two time periods. It creates some sort of yin-yang representation of the whole moral dilemma of the two factions. The lighting in both present day and regression also plays a huge role in setting a distinctive tone for each scene and for the movie as a whole.


The filming and camera work is quite remarkable, especially with aerial shots, as it gives you an eagle sight of the world we’re exploring and it helps in creating a larger than life depth, making the audience feel sucked into the world and feeling how grand and vast the world is.


The action scenes are among the best I’ve ever seen, with so much honesty towards what an Assassin can do in games and more, and the music and sound effect help bringing all these brilliant moves to life.


Characters are quite remarkable, especially in terms of appearance. Whether it’s the classy and rich looks of Alan Rikkin (Jeremy Irons), Sofia Rikkin (Marion Cotillard) and The Chairwoman (Charlotte Rampling), or the remarkable uniform of Abstergo’s subject or the detailed and sophisticated outfits of Aguilar (Michael Fassbender), Maria (Ariane Labed) and their fellow Assassins and their Templar villains. Everything related to the looks and designs is top-notch and helps not only paint a beautiful image but teach lot about who the characters are, where they belong and their personality.


Setting and architecture are one of the pivotal parts of every movie, and here the movie spares no detail without putting under the magnifying glass, which either pay direct homages to in-game environments, equipments and/or references characters and objects that we’re familiar with. Abstergo Industries is a marvel in terms of architecture, interior and exterior design. I’ve always loved that type of architecture which was often shown in The Lost Archive and Desmond’s Journey Black Room sessions in Assassin’s Creed: Revelations or First Civilization sites, in the games. So redesigning Abstergo to be a piece of contemporary/futuristic minimalistic design made the atmosphere not only beautiful to look at but sheds light on what Abstergo is, as a powerful global company, a place that has access to technology ahead of their time, and a place that is no conventional hospital, prison or laboratory.


Equipments such as the Animus and other devices made specifically for the movie added an extra layer of sophistication to the film, and also gave the movie an identity of its own. Weapons and gadgets from characters we’ve met in games give a sense of nostalgia to longtime fans and eagle-eyed Assassin’s Creed veterans who look for every detail, and also play a role in showing how Abstergo left no lineage unchecked and tomb unearthed to find every relic and item related to the Assassins and Templars and all these elements paint a beautiful image that will make you want to pause and examine every scene for interesting details. And as we’ve learned from the games, we almost every detail means something and things are rarely present for no reason.


The Story


Like most Assassin’s Creed game, there’s always a race against time to find a certain artifact or coordinates to a certain important location. This movie follows a similar formula, that is quite comparable with the abduction of Desmond Miles by Abstergo Industries in the first Assassin’s Creed game and forcing him to use the Animus to learn and find things of great importance.


Callum Lynch, like Desmond Miles, is from an Assassin lineage and born to two Assassin parents. He lost his mother whom his father Assassinated to prevent Abstergo from using their genetic memories and uncover their secrets. Cal is sentences to death for killing a man at a bar and instead of dying, he woke up at Abstergo, as Dr. Sofia Rikkin, daughter of Alan Rikkin, the CEO of Abstergo, telling him that the world neither knows nor cares about his whereabouts because he’s been considered dead and instead brought to Abstergo so she could “help him”.


She later reveals that she aims to use his genetic memories to combat human aggression by finding the source of it and trying to heal people from it. A motive similar to that of Dr. Warren Vidic in the first Assassin’s Creed, where he remarks to Desmond about how war and aggression is a huge problem and how he aims to eliminate that.


Alan Rikkin observes his daughter’s experiments. He admires her intelligence and resilience and he supports her work. However, he has sinister ulterior motives. He aims to use his daughter’s work to find The Artifact. An ancient technology from a civilization long gone, with the ability to alter the subject’s mind with illusions and controlling their physical and mental activities. We’ve known it since the first game as The Apple of Eden.


Alan Rikkin is a high-ranking member of the Inner Sanctum of the Templar Order, and he promises The Chairwoman, the highest ranking member of the Templar Order to find The Apple and put an end to aggression, uprisings against their order and specifically bring an end to the Assassins Creed, something which she thinks to be pointless. The Chairwoman aims to vote to shutdown Abstergo, claiming that giving Alan Rikkin 3 billion dollars, annually is pointless, especially that people are no longer after freedom today, in her opinion, and are more susceptible and ready to give up their freedoms for a comfortable living, and that resistance and uprisings are no longer a threat.


Rikkin disagrees and promises to bring her results before the voting to shut down Abstergo is held in London in a matter of days. Therefore, he begins to push his daughter and Cal hard to find what he’s looking for, in time. Something Sofia does not approve of, as she wants to help Cal, gradually and lets him trust her and join her with his own free will.


That’s where the story takes off as Cal visits his ancestor’s life from 500 years prior to the movie events, the life of the Assassin Aguilar De Nerha. A strong and determined man, who just joined the Creed and swore to fulfill his tasks and stand by the Creed and adhere to the their tenants, and sets off on a mission with his companion and love interest, Maria.


Two stories intertwine, portraying the similarities and differences between the lives of the two men, Aguilar and Cal, along with their companions and foes. While Aguilar is a strong, faithful and determined Assassin who swore his life to the Creed and fulfills every task he’s given, regardless of the cost, Cal struggles to understand what the Creed and the Order are all about. And rejects his fellow subjects at Abstergo along with the promises of Alan Rikkin and his daughter. The movie presents the moral dilemma quite perfectly.


Execution and Pacing


The representation of morality in the regression segments with Aguilar is more of a black vs. white kind of contrast between the Assassins and Templars, while the present day segments with Cal and Abstergo, the movie becomes more morally gray, as we struggle with Cal who’s yet to know where his allegiances lie. That’s something the movie perfectly executed and presented to the audience. The games in general have always tried to balance the black and white and the gray morality, as some games head to clear hero vs. villain conflict while others made us think about the motives and the goals of each side, with no clear right or wrong.


On the other hand, the representation of side characters along with the overall regression feels off when it comes to pacing and exploration. A large and interesting world is built in the regression segment but is only explored for a short time that sort of feel more like a sneak-peak rather than a full story, and the numerous side-characters such as the fellow Assassins and Templars shown both in modern day and regression, especially the subjects at Abstergo, and even some of the main ones like Aguilar and Maria do not have much of a backstory that makes us feel like we know much about them to feel anything for them or to somehow understand them.


The movie represents everything perfectly and I while I’m mainly a fan of the present day segments in the games a lot more than the historical ones and interested mainly in the sci-fi aspect of the games, I couldn’t help but wish that the movie had at least an extra 20-30 minutes to shed more light on the regression and the characters there, with at least some sort of backstory, a fixed goal, a sense of achievement or closure in the end, as well as more time to know more about the subjects of Abstergo whom we only know to be Assassins but nothing more than that other than few hints and easter eggs, here and there that we’ve known from interviews much earlier than the movie premier.


I felt like the lack of exploration to backstories has made the movie pacing feel a bit off, because everything took off from the very first few minutes, so everything started to escalate quickly, Aguilar’s life, his relationship with Maria, the mentor, their allies and foes, the inquisition and the early appearance of the Bleeding Effect symptoms.


While I understand that Assassin’s Creed as a game series, is a very long and detailed one and it’s hard to squeeze into 2 hours, we have to remember that the games contain many filler sequences and random errands that a movie can do without, and that we could easily cut out many parts and focus on the main story, which is the quest for a certain artifact, person or place and switch back and forth between present day and history, without sacrificing one segment for the other or leaving much for the audience’s speculations. That’s why I wished that the movie needed more runtime to do justice to all the brilliant characters it presented and the world it immersed us in.


Another point that must be addressed is that there are multiple scenes shown in the trailers either did not make it to the final cut, looked different or sounded different. Now I understand that this happens often, but one scene which was heavily emphasized upon since the first trailer, which is the Leap of Faith played out much differently from the its first incarnation. I would’ve much preferred the early version over the final one. In addition to that, the Apple was left ambiguous when it comes to its potential. TheApple held by Alan Rikkin looked different one from that was held by Aguilar, both in terms of size and design and judging by the X-Rays, the original Apple with Aguilar had a cover that contained the smaller one, which is why it looks different, which means it's the same one. I might have missed something, and I’ll definitely watch the movie again, but nothing clear was said to explain why these changes occurred and why the change of color, especially the promotional images of Alan Rikkin holding the Apple which were released prior to the movie premier showed him hold a small, but a golden Apple, not a silver one.


Final Word


In conclusion, the movie excels in the visual aspect and storytelling. It presents a style with a deep look into the lore and the present day, a style that we’ve long craved for the later games to adopt and return back to. The movie also does a brilliant job with the details which work as really nice easter eggs to fans whom are used to exploring every frame and pixel of the games, and also as beautiful and rich design elements for newcomers.


Since the movie is part of a planned trilogy, I hope that the creators learn from the issues with the pacing, execution and runtime and make use of the amazing visual style and great detail which this movie excelled at.


Like the games, the movie ends with a strong climax and a cliffhanger, leaving a lot to speculate and expect and so much room for theories and expectations. Something which makes me crave multiple sequels that exceed our expectations with storytelling and twists, like the early games always had.



The movie does challenge the stigma about video game-based movies. It works really hard to bring everything we’ve come to love about the franchise with great honesty and respect to source material, while maintaining its own identity. I left the screening room in shock and awe, and of course with a considerable amount of notes about its issues, which I mentioned above. But I was extremely happy with the overall experience. An experience of a flawed masterpiece. Forgivable flaws which could be enhanced with the coming movies.


https://scontent-mxp1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t31.0-8/15732357_1807217989529640_6829171970101313059_o.jp g?oh=f092c35ab078fb064a25277a27a22f76&oe=58E26C85

https://scontent-mxp1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t31.0-8/15776762_1807217489529690_6890843506876412765_o.jp g?oh=e694ac8ac62e9392f4d6dfdd898947a3&oe=58E68A09

https://scontent-mxp1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t31.0-8/15723654_1807217492863023_8900109907412033119_o.jp g?oh=1b950c7436380cf5589123449453f14a&oe=58E32B88

https://scontent-mxp1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t31.0-8/15732534_1807218356196270_5346760858740828190_o.jp g?oh=bccd66c698f22e93d772005ba472c5ca&oe=58DBD9B5

joshoolhorst
12-30-2016, 10:33 PM
Sounds great and love your view of the movie but I am not sure myself just yet about the writing because I heard the writing was freaking bad but I will see it for myself

pacmanate
12-30-2016, 11:43 PM
I'm worried that your massive AC Fandom has swayed this review, you don't really ever delve into flaws and I guess that's because of what Ubisoft do for you, it would ruin your image with them as you are good promotion for them.

I'm still going to see the film, as I am also a huge AC fan, however as everyone knows here, I am also one of the most critical (but only cause I want the games to be the best they can be).

General consensus is that this film isn't anything special at all when it comes to game/movie adaptions so I am really looking forward to seeing if that is true.

Fatal-Feit
12-31-2016, 09:35 PM
I'm worried that your massive AC Fandom has swayed this review, you don't really ever delve into flaws and I guess that's because of what Ubisoft do for you, it would ruin your image with them as you are good promotion for them.

Perhaps you should read his review before insinuating he's a sellout. He clearly wrote about the movie's many flaws and gripes.

pacmanate
01-01-2017, 08:24 PM
Perhaps you should read his review before insinuating he's a sellout. He clearly wrote about the movie's many flaws and gripes. I did read it, and I also saw the word "Masterpiece" at the end.

There is no such thing as a "Flawed Masterpiece" and I never said he didn't say there weren't flaws. But you can't call it a "Flawed Masterpiece" when it is clearly not, those 2 words are complete opposites.

Fatal-Feit
01-01-2017, 09:11 PM
I did read it, and I also saw the word "Masterpiece" at the end.

There is no such thing as a "Flawed Masterpiece" and I never said he didn't say there weren't flaws. But you can't call it a "Flawed Masterpiece" when it is clearly not, those 2 words are complete opposites.

Nobody said anything about that. The words I highlighted before is you saying that he rarely delves into its problems, which he clearly did for a fair portion of his review.

And I disagree. There IS such a thing as a "Flawed Masterpiece". That's exactly what the Soulsborne community refer the first two titles as. They are some of the most unrivaled, innovative and ambitious games of all time, but I could easily sit down and tear them apart if I wanted. Like-wise with AC2. It's revered as a masterpiece, but it's got some major flaws that the community would happily point out. Nothing is perfect and video games especially are never without critique. A masterpiece simply refers to an exceptional work of art, not exactly flawless. If he called it a flawed perfection, then I would totally understand.

stuwoac
01-01-2017, 09:35 PM
thanks for the write up I have now watched the film and agree with you alot, as a fan of the games I felt the story was rushed and unlike ezio where we grow to know the guy this felt like number 3 where we just played through it not caring for the main character. the flim is well worth the watch I hope there will be a extended version on Bluray

SixKeys
01-02-2017, 12:20 AM
I did read it, and I also saw the word "Masterpiece" at the end.

There is no such thing as a "Flawed Masterpiece" and I never said he didn't say there weren't flaws. But you can't call it a "Flawed Masterpiece" when it is clearly not, those 2 words are complete opposites.

That's ridiculous. "Perfect" is the word that implies there are no flaws, and there is no such thing as perfection. A masterpiece can be flawed. It simply refers to "a work of outstanding workmanship". Romeo & Juliet is a flawed masterpiece. It's not perfect, but it was clearly created by a master of his craft.

Anyway, the AC movie is hardly comparable to Shakespeare. It's a surprisingly entertaining video game adaptation, though. You don't have to agree, but Rino is entitled to his opinion. He has often criticized the things HE feels the franchise is doing wrong, like the narrative choices and handling of MD. He even lists some criticisms in the OP. But because he's not automatically prepared to **** on the movie as you are, you imply he's a sellout.

pacmanate
01-02-2017, 01:56 PM
That's ridiculous. "Perfect" is the word that implies there are no flaws, and there is no such thing as perfection. A masterpiece can be flawed. It simply refers to "a work of outstanding workmanship". Romeo & Juliet is a flawed masterpiece. It's not perfect, but it was clearly created by a master of his craft.

Anyway, the AC movie is hardly comparable to Shakespeare. It's a surprisingly entertaining video game adaptation, though. You don't have to agree, but Rino is entitled to his opinion. He has often criticized the things HE feels the franchise is doing wrong, like the narrative choices and handling of MD. He even lists some criticisms in the OP. But because he's not automatically prepared to **** on the movie as you are, you imply he's a sellout.

The word Masterpiece is subjective, yes it means "A work of outstanding workmanship" but I don't see the soundtrack lacking, lack of character development, boring side characters, pacing problems having the right to be called "Outstanding workmanship".

Also I hardly implied he is a sell out, I was stating facts. He does have a huge love for AC, he does have a relationship with Ubisoft, what was wrong with what I said?

For the record, Reno and I have talked a lot outside of these forums for the past 3 years and talked about a lot of personal life things as well. He has become a very good friend of mine because of that and I am sure he wont go to the lengths of me saying "I'm insinuating he is a sellout" just because I think his love for the franchise might sway his review.

It's a caution anyone should have. Loving someone/something so much, it is easy to look past the flaws or gloss over them. You can see them, and you might think they arent a big deal, but that's cause love is blind. Same thing happens in relationships. All I was insinuating was I am very cautious.

X_xWolverinEx_X
01-04-2017, 08:36 AM
i agree this pacman on this one