Videogame movies dont have a great track record. There may be entertainment to be had in the appropriately schlocky tone of Paul W.S. Andersons long-running Resident Evil film series and comedic value in a late-night Uwe Boll movie, but nobody would argue that these are actually good. Instead, most game movies aspire to little more than a clumsy approximation of characters and settings whose source material has already established a fan base. Put Agent 47, Max Payne, or the Prince of Persia on screen and some people who liked the games will buy a ticket, regardless of quality.

All the same, the people responsible for making these films probably hope, at least in some cases, to create a movie that can be enjoyed on its own merits. And this isnt a ridiculous idea. Though many videogames dont have great storiesand, if they do, usually rely on interactivity to be properly tolda savvy writer or director can make a worthwhile film out of most any concept. This gives us reason to hope that its only a matter of time before a videogame movie gets it right (even if well likely have to doze through an untold number of failed attempts in the process).

Michael Fassbender as Callum Lynch

The latest high-profile adaptation to surface is Assassins Creed, a movie thats popped up in rumours during the past few years but never materialized. A recently released article (via Meriah Doty at Yahoo) sets its release date as late 2016, though, providing some confirmation that it is indeed being made. The piece also offers some basic information regarding the films casting and premise. Most notable is that Michael Fassbender will play an original character named Callum Lynch. As in the games, Lynch travels through his own genetic memory in order to take on the role of one of his ancestorsin this case, Aguilar from 15

th

century Spain. While the characters and setting may be new, the movie will incorporate the game seriesongoing (apparently interminable) fight between the Assassins and Knights Templar.

Parts of this seem promising. Fassbender is capable of great performances and the cast also includes talented actors like Marion Cotillard and Michael K. Williams. Whats probably most important, though, is that it will be an original story with entirely new characters. Rather than attempt to bring established fiction into a new mediumweve seen how well that works in movies like Max Paynethe creators of the film will be free to choose to include what works from the games and, more importantly, discard what doesnt. Without being beholden to existing characters and plot points that may not translate well, the movie will be able to tell its own story, basing itself on a concept rather than a detailed setting.

The source materials gameplay also seems like it could translate well to film. Assassins Creed is enjoyable in part because of its free-running and climbing mechanics, but the interactivity of these systems probably isnt necessary for making a compelling action film. The intrigue of stalking an assassination target or fleeing the pursuit of murderous guards, if handled by a talented director, can be just as enthralling without the audience having to take part.
asscreeddowninsert3Still, the decision to include elements from the
Assassins Creed gamesunderlying storythe centuries-old struggle between Assassins and Templarsmight make for material thats a bit too ridiculous to work well in a serious story. This, along with the genetic memory exploration concept, is a pretty silly idea to blend into a film that may have aspirations toward real, believable drama. If the filmmakers lean into the B-movie sci-fi tone of these concepts theres still a chance that the result will be an entertaining experience. But, its hard to think of a way that these plot points can be brought into a more serious movie without taking away from its overall effect. Just like comic books, mainstream videogames often include material that cant be brought to cinema without careful consideration. A director who gets the balance between schlock and emotional impact right can create something enormously successful. One who fails to do this makes the sort of embarrassing fare that videogame movies have been to date.

This said, its hard to predict too much with so few details available. Assassins Creed basic premisefast-paced action set in beautiful historic localesand its great cast may be reasons to keep an eye on the project. But, considering that there isnt so much as a trailer to go on as of yet, it may be a good idea to take even the most promising aspects of the movie with a grain of salt for now.

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