Video game adaptations are notoriously bad; in fact I’ve written an entire blog on just how bad they are and why game adaptations would be better suited to TV. You should be able to find that on the site if you’re interested. However we’re currently at a big moment in the history of game adaptations, a second phase as it were. The next few years will see a huge influx of new adaptations which have a lot of promise. The brilliant Duncan Jones is helming Warcraft, Doug Liman will direct Tom Hardy in Splinter Cell but it’s another Ubisoft project in which the majority of my anticipation lies: Assassin’s Creed.
I’m a big fan of the Assassin’s Creed games with the series second entry, aptly named Assassin’s Creed 2, as my favourite game of all time. Last year’s Assassin’s Creed: Unity tapered my interest slightly in the series and to be honest I’m not that excited for Syndicate which will be released this October. Unlike many it would seem, I really like the present day stories of the games and the huge complex mythology around the ‘Pieces of Eden’ and ‘Those who came before’. This large mythology and the world building that the games have created will no doubt help the film. The film adaptation can pick and choose which bits of AC continuity it wants and leave out some of the more convoluted and divisive plot points. Many other video game adaptations have to scrape the bottom of the barrel to find story points from the games to use but Assassin’s Creed has such a huge array of stories in every time period and location to choose from I can’t see the plot being a problem for the film.
One of the reasons for the failure of many video game adaptations is the general lack of talent involved, both behind and in front of the camera. The most recent video game adaptation to hit the big screen was this Summer’s Hitman: Agent 47.
There is no doubt in my mind that a good film based on the Hitman game series can be made; you just don’t hire Skip Woods to write it. Woods has been the writer for some of the worst blockbusters of the past few years including X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Sabotage, A good day to Die Hard and even the 2007 Hitman film. The 2007 Hitman film is well known for its lack of critical and commercial success so why they hired the very same guy to write this year’s reboot of the series is beyond me. In fact why Skip Woods is still getting work in Hollywood is beyond me. Staying with Agent 47, the film was directed by Aleksander Bach. Heard of him? No, me neither and we probably won’t hear his name ever again. If studios want their adaptations to be a success then they need to hire the right people.
So far the Assassin’s Creed adaptation has been doing just that. Whether you are a Shakespeare fan or not you may have seen the trailer for the new adaptation for Macbeth. Visually it looks amazing and the acting talent, with the likes of Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, is superb. So why am I talking about Macbeth? Because all the big talent involved including Fassbender, Cotillard and director Justin Kurzel are involved in the Assassin’s Creed adaptation.
Just from the Macbeth trailers you can tell that Kurzel is a great visual director and because it’s Shakespeare he will prove his skill at showing us a complex and interesting narrative. Or I hope he does, I don’t want him to turn into another Zach Snyder. Fassbender and Cotillard are fantastic actors and thankfully aren’t pretentious enough to just do ‘award contender’ films. Both are not new when it comes to blockbusters with Fassbender as Magneto in the most recent X-Men films and Cotillard as a character who I’m not going to spoil in The Dark Knight Rises. I like to think of Macbeth as the trailer for the AC film and for once it seems like there are talented people involved in a video game adaptation.
A major problem with most video game adaptations is that the writer or the producers choose which storyline from the game to remake for the film and then they completely butcher it. They cast an actor as a well loved character from the game and directly adapt a storyline from the game and the audience doesn’t like it. The character is usually much better portrayed in the game and what works as a video game rarely works on the big screen. It’s good then that the Assassin’s Creed film has gone for a completely different approach; instead on remaking the story of the games, the film will be set in the same universe as the games. The games and film will be part of a shared continuity in which events in one will affect the other. It’s a new and exciting way of doing things and will introduce new fans to the series while managing to not annoy any current fans of the games. The film will feature all new characters but still be pure AC by following the formula set down by the games. A person in the present needs information/training only found in the past and so they use an Animus to decipher their genetic memories and relive their ancestor’s memories to help them fight the Templars. Hoods, hidden blades and impossible jumps into hay bales are also included. In the film Callum Lynch (Fassbender) will relive the memories of his ancestor Aguilar (also Fassbender) in 15th century Spain to gain his knowledge and skills ready to confront the Templars in the present day. Sure sounds like Assassin’s Creed to me.
So do you think that the Assassin’s Creed movie is heading in the right direction? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @kylebrrtt. Like and subscribe if you enjoyed this week’s blog and check out the other great content on the site and come back next week for some more First Time Writing.