29 January 2017

The First Good Video Game Movie?

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Like googling the phrase 'two girls one cup', invading Poland, or visiting Toxteth, it seems that adapting a video game into a movie is one of the worst things that you could ever possibly do. Over the years we've been hit by a tsunami of shit after people have tried and failed to successfully transition one medium to the other and yet film-makers still persist in trying. This is despite almost every case attempted so far ending its life as a Tomb Raider or Super Mario Bros. shaped turd bobbing its way towards cinemas like a bloated corpse in a sea of piss. Assassin's Creed is the latest series to attempt the jump from games to movies, however if the reviews are anything to go by, it would appear that the success of this leap of faith has been equal to watching a drunk bloke attempt a 60ft bungee into a post-curry cesspool whilst using only his dick for a rope.

I'd tell you what the story of the film is about, but in all honesty I haven't really got a fucking clue. From what I could tell, it seemed that Michael Fassbender's character got hooked up to a giant robotic fisting arm that ended up fisting him so hard that his past-life flew before his eyes. However apparently it was actually more something to do with him being forced to relive his genetic memories in order for a shadowy organisation to track down the fabled Apple of Eden. Obviously. When regressed into his past-life, it turns out that Fassbender was a 15th Century Spanish Assassin that was influential in the Apple going missing because of course he was. Isn't it funny how everybody that experiences a past-life was somebody important, despite so many syphilitic prostitutes and creepy face-eating lepers going unclaimed. Oh, and in case it matters, the organisation checking Fassbender's memories is run by Jeremy Irons which should help to indicate an obvious morality-based third act twist whilst also suggesting that Irons should have his own memory checked... specifically back to the reviews of 2000's adaptation of Dungeons And Dragons.

Writing for Roger Ebert's website, the film critic Simon Abrams said of the new Assassin's Creed  that “unlike the actual video game, "Assassin's Creed" isn't ridiculous and fun, but rather ridiculous and turgid.” Which can only lead me to believe that he's never played any of the fucking games in his life. I mean “ridiculous and turgid” pretty much nails the first game perfectly, with the third entry being so borderline unplayable that I can only assume that it was designed by somebody in a coma after having their random blinks translated into chunks of code. Having subsequently flicked through a few more reviews, it seems that most people have the same problem, which is that the story is a complete load of bollocks. And they're not wrong with the film actually making about as much sense as the time I dreamt about The Queen giving birth to herself by doing a shit into my bath. However to say this film is bad is something that I just can't completely agree with. Contrary to critical opinion, I have to say that I did enjoy Assassin's Creed quite a lot which, like claiming to be gay in either less-enlightened times or modern-day Texas, is something that I'm aware you just shouldn't admit to.

Firstly I do know that the story makes no sense, however another film that this kind of reminded me of was Darren Aronofsky's underrated Noah. In the case of that latter movie, I remember thinking that it was really good but slightly let down by the ridiculousness of its source material. Well, like the Bible, the plot beats of the Assassin's Creed games are also completely unbelievable, and absolutely what lets this film down too. But at the end of the day, what can you really do about this? The obvious solution to the issues of the game are to just get rid of all the modern day bollocks and let us play exclusively in the past. However if the film were to do this then it would be criticised for ignoring the main selling point of the game. By having the past-life regression machine be a giant mechanical arm, the film has at least improved upon this aspect of the modern day stuff with the games equivalent being to simply have the main character lie on a bed and go to sleep. Having played the games and endured the modern day stuff I know exactly how he felt.

However although the story made fuck-all sense, the film moves at such a rapid speed that I found it difficult to get in any way bored by it. One minute we're being told something dull and incomprehensible about an Apple and the next we're seeing a ninja stab the fuck out of a load of soldiers. Fine by me. Plus, as confused as I was about all of the crap going on, so it seems was Fassbender's main character. All he really understands is that he's a death row criminal that must do as he's told in order to regain his freedom. Well, I understood that much meaning that at the very least I could follow his emotional journey with my confusion being in sync with his own. Was this disorientation intentional on the part of the filmmakers? Possibly not. They spend so much of the movie explaining the setup that there's very little time for any sense of character development. Jeremy Irons starts off by playing a lazy version of Jeremy Irons and ends the movie by playing an exaggerated version of the lazy Jeremy Irons. However none of this mattered for me simply because I'd managed to hook into the thrust of what Fassbender was experiencing.

And speaking of Fassbender's thrust, it should go without saying that this isn't in the same league as his Shame. Although if the reviews are anything to go by, it might simply become his most recent one. However that's not to say that the little mite doesn't half act his heart out for the movie regardless. His performance as a modern day killer is as intense as you'd expect him to be, and with his Spanish assassin, you can see he's performed the bulk of his own stunts and even learned the local lingo. Well, I assume he's speaking Spanish anyway, but fuck it- I suppose he could just be muttering gibberish for all I know. Either way, he's a good enough actor that I don't feel I need to go away and learn Spanish to check he's done his research. I read a few reviews that suggested the action was dull and boring, but where that's concerned I can only disagree. From a subjective point of view, the involuntary response of my internal works was to feel enjoyment from what I saw, however from an objective one, can we really suggest that it's that bad? I mean, look at anything by Uwe Boll, let alone his video-game adaptations, and then tell me the action in this movie is worthy of the 'one star' reviews that I saw!

Rather than being equal to Boll's BloodRayne, Assassin's Creed is closer to a cross between Aronofsky's also underrated The Fountain and McG's forgettable Terminator Salvation. I'm not saying that the movie is perfect... obviously.. I've just compared it to Terminator Salvation... but like one of the series' iconic 'leap of faiths', I got caught up in its momentum and enjoyed the ride. At the end of the day, Terminator Salvation might not be Terminator 2, but nor is it Terminator Genisys. It's just a shame that the film then decided to cram about four sequels worth of story into its final twenty minutes having already crammed too much shit into its opening hour and forty. At which point the well executed leap that I'd been enjoying so much concluded with the film missing the conveniently located bail of hay and face-planting the ground instead. At the point in which everything should be coming together, I'll admit that it did seem to fall down like a house of cards near a farting competition. Is the curse of shitty video-game to movie adaptations finally over with this movie? ...No. But like an old man whose just popped his first blue pill, it seems that things are very much on their way up. Thanks for reading, motherfuckers, and see you next time. 

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