Friday, December 30, 2016

Assassin’s Creed

I knew this was going to be bad; I spent the last couple of months making variations of the joke in the opening paragraph of the EFC review; I honestly don’t understand why you don’t build the movie around what people know and like about the property, even if they only know it vaguely.

But, to be fair, it took two or three screw-ups for it to come to this. I had made plans to see the Doctor Who Christmas special at the Fenway theater, buying a ticket ahead of time while doing my last-minute shopping on Christmas Eve. Then I went up to Maine, spoiled my nieces rotten, and at some point the ticket disappears from my pocket, or wallet, or inside a Christmas card or wherever the heck I stuck it. It’s a $15 ticket with assigned seating, so I don’t feel too bad about getting in somehow. But, for whatever reason, the Red Line decides to be extremely slow, so it’s just past starting time when I get there, I figure I may be able to just buy a ticket for another show (I mean, if I wanted to be really sneaky, I didn’t use my MoviePass card when seeing Passengers because I saw it in 3D…), but by the time I was at a ticket kiosk and ready, it was quarter past, and it didn’t seem like I could get the ticket, hope that the the ushers were set up to rip in such a way that I could get to the right place… Bleh. So, not seeing that, I don’t intend to have spent that much time on the train and in the cold with no movie to show for it, it’s $5 off night at AMC, which is the current best circumstance to see a 3D movie, money-wise, so…

The lesson, as always, is never to go to a movie just because of starting time or for reasons other than “I really want to see that movie”.

Assassin’s Creed

* ¼ (out of four)
Seen 27 December 2016 in AMC Boston Common #15 (first-run, RealD 3D DCP)

Not being much of a gamer, my entire history with with the Assassin’s Creed franchise has been seeing previews for the games before movies at a film festival that their developer sponsored, and from those clips you’d never know that it was about much more than 15th-Century parkour. Movies and games have been built on less, but sometimes the problem comes when they’re built on more - in this case, a dreary present-day story that renders the fun bits moot while wasting a whole slew of talented actors.

In both 1492 and 2016, the Knights Templar are searching for the “Apple of Eden”, which allegedly contains the genetic code for human free will; possessing it would allow them to place the entire world under their complete control. In modern days, Templar Rikken (Jeremy Irons) is seeking it by faking the execution of murderer Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) and then using a device created by his daughter Sofia (Marion Cotillard), “the Animus”, to read his genetic memory to find where Aguilar (Fassbender), a member of the Assassin’s Creed that opposed the Templars, hid the device five hundred years ago.

You see the problem here: All the exciting things happens in flashbacks whose outcome is fairly easily deduced from the start - maybe not the details, but those are kind of unimportant - leaving the present-day material to try and make finding the location of the Apple interesting. Seemingly by accident, it inverts the way video games work, where the action sequences involve and stimulate the player while the cut-scenes in between give him or her a few moments to rest while dumping exposition; by metaphorically taking the controller out of the viewers’ hands, the talky bits are now expected to carry the story, and they can’t for a couple of reasons.

Full review on EFC.

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