It’s finally happened; what seemed to be rumors relegated to more unreliable news sources and Facebook a few years ago have finally come to fruition. Michael Fassbender is our new Assassin’s Creed. Hollywood has squinted cockeyed at the new Warcraft movie and thought “I bet we can make more like these.” The trailer dropped and has ushered in a new era of potentially mucking up video game IPs.
Of course, we knew this was coming for a while, outside of what was promised by your excitable younger cousin. 20th Century Fox has been slowly releasing photos intended to still the wrath of gamers still smarting over two Mortal Kombats, Street Fighters, and Tomb Raiders, even a couple Hitmen, a Prince of Persia, and we don’t talk about anything created by Uwe Boll. The photos looked very promising and seemed to reinforce the film’s basic synopsis:
Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender), a descendant of the mysterious secret society the Assassins, must use his deadly skills to battle the powerful Templar organization.
Outside of that we know that the past sections take place in Spain during the midst of the Inquisition, so we’ve got our historic locale in the midst of the event that shaped it, and we’ve got our guy who’s gonna help shape it, Aguilar de Nerha, also played by Fassbender. And now we’ve got the trailer to endlessly piece through.
Immediately we’re introduced to Michael Fassbender’s Callum Lynch, a man with a presumably criminal past, as they don’t execute just anyone by lethal injection. Abstergo then gets their hands on him, as it’s easier to subject someone to experiments if everyone thinks they’re dead. To help explain this we meet Sophia Rikkin, played by the incomparable Marion Cotillard. Then it’s a lot of “Hey, I know that symbol” until we see Jeremy Irons looming through a window. At this point I’ll encourage you to go watch the trailer if you haven’t already, and by the time you report back we’ll dig further into this.
The jury is still very much out on this film so far. On one hand we have several fantastic actors present, including Cotillard, Irons, and Fassbender, who not only stars but is also a producer on the film. Also crewing for the film is director Justin Kurzel, who also directed Fassbender and Cotillard in the critically-acclaimed Macbeth adaptation released last year. There’s plenty of Assassin’s Creeding going on with the fighting and the jumping and the running and the diving from impossibly high vistas. In addition Ubisoft has maintained a great deal of creative control on the film, ideally ensuring that nothing insane is done with the film or its properties, which leads us to the other hand, which is my fist waving angrily at whoever is responsible for making the Animus into a giant robot GLaDOS arm.
What primarily stuck out to me and everyone watching the trailer was the reimagining of the Animus. Anyone who has played any Assassin’s Creed game knows that the Animus is usually a chair or table-ish object that the one viewing the memory sits in or lays on while a bunch of techno stuff happens to unlock their genetic memories. Exposure to the memories creates a phenomenon known as “The Bleeding Effect”, where experiences and abilities from the ancestor bleeds over into your head, helped along by electric stimulation of your muscles or something. Basically you sit in a super chair and hallucinate so hard you turn into a badass. The film’s Animus allows for the user room to jump and run and perform a variety of tasks for some reason. You don’t sit down so much as you strap in while it flings you around like a rogue claw machine.
While many fans are upset about this, there’s a rationale behind it. From a filmmaking standpoint it’s not very exciting to watch someone sit in a chair and nap in a lab, so making the Animus a little more physical and even terrifying to behold ups the engagement of the audience. Producers probably feared it would be far too reminiscent of films like The Matrix and wanted to make something unique-looking for the film. In addition, depending on whether this film is intended as a reboot or continuation of the game series, perhaps this Animus is the next step in Animus technology? Maybe the Bleeding Effect is achieved faster when the user’s muscles are fully stimulated? This would also explain why they fit him with a pair of hidden blades just before he goes under and why we see him practicing his archery in the middle of the lab. Who knows what the story reasoning is, but I don’t think the Animus should be what ruins the film for anyone.
Assassin’s Creed comes out December 21st. There are currently no details on Assassin’s Creed games in development (Which, as I’ve said before, is pretty okay). Or are there? Share rumors on the film or games, or complaints with either in the comments!
(Editor’s Note: During the time it took to get this article prepped and ready to go, Michael Fassbender met with Collider to discuss the film, and talked about the reasons for the changes to the Animus! His reasons were pretty much that he wanted to have the characters in the present “more physically involved” and wanted it to look distinct from films like, you guessed it, The Matrix. Movie people have reasons for the weird stuff they do!)