The Problem With Video-game Movies: A Review on Assassin’s Creed

Kurzel’s movie is just one example of tens of video-game flicks hyped for the popularity of the video-game, but actually failing to please the video-game audience.

BY Farzaneh Pishro

If you have tried watching some of the recently-made video-game sludge, you probably know how unworkable they are. It’s not that the director is a newbie, or that the actors are unprofessional- though actors and directors, with all the hyperbolism that accompanies their fame, might have some sort of influence on the overall quality of the film. It’s just that it is very difficult to adapt a great video game into a descent movie. Making a video-game film is a problem of Scylla and Charybdis for any film maker brave enough to try it. Kurzel challenged himself with Assassin’s Creed, in a similar fashion to Duncan Jones veering from his previous minimalistic sci-fi into Warcraft. Both projects turned out more like games than films.

Modern studies of arts indicate that the medium affects the meaning. The audience of movies are not totally the same as the audience of the video-games, as the kind of pleasure that the medium of movies or games induce are different in nature. Directors of video-game movies face an enormous challenge in warping the pleasure thousands of video-game fans have experienced through hours of game play into the form of a two-hour film.

In Assassin’s Creed, we observe the same challenge cut the movie limb by limb. First, the world-building of the video-game is just too complex to be jammed in two-hours. On that note, the film fails to deliver acceptable reasons for the most important factor in the shambolic plot- the question of Abstergo Industries looking for the Apple of Eden. The film takes it for granted that the audience of the film are a ready-made cult of keen video-game players and doesn’t bother to give enough information about the plot or the world where the story is set.

While the audience of video-games would rather have more action than characterisation, this is not true for most film audiences. It is totally acceptable for the video-game player to see the character change his mission. You wouldn’t question it much since your pleasure from the video-game originates mostly from its action. Yet, in the film version of Assassin’s Creed, Callum’s change of mind and perspective is so fast and dazzling that becomes unbelievable. One moment, Callum is the avowed enemy of the Brotherhood and the next he leads the Brotherhood to their freedom from Abstergo.

While Justin Kurzel has certainly injected a grab bag of reasons for Callum’s actions, they seem artificial and unpolished, and I would blame the hellish difficulty of turning a video-game’s shallow, action-based characters into their deep, multifaceted film counterparts. Kurzel’s movie is just one example of tens of video-game flicks hyped for the popularity of the video-game, but actually failing to please the video-game audience.

There seems to be a dark future awaiting this blossoming genre if the film-makers don’t address the challenges of cross-media adaptation.



Photo credits: http://comicbook.com, Assassin’s Creed

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