I’ve made it known that I don’t think adapting video games into film is usually a good idea, but this time, I’m more optimistic. It was recently announced that Michael Fassbender will co-produce and star in an adaptation of the popular Assassin’s Creed games. To discuss this point with me, I looked to actor, film lover, Assassin’s Creed enthusiast, and friend, Jedediah Studfinder. (That’s not his real name, obviously, but he was shy about publishing his real name, so he requested a pseudonym. I agreed to allow it, but only if he let me choose his alias.)
Nick DeNitto: So, how do you feel about movies based on video games, in general?
Jedediah Studfinder: I think, for the most part, they don’t work. I guess it’s the ways that video games and movies are constructed that make them incompatible. I don’t know of any good movies that started out as video games, and I think the opposite is true the majority of the time, as well.
ND: I agree entirely; I just don’t think the subject matter of most video games works in the medium of film. They’re usually all about action, and that just doesn’t always work in film. A great story in a game is only equivalent to a decent story in a movie. HOWEVER! I think Assassin’s Creed could work. Assassin’s Creed is obviously about a killer, but it’s not really a slash-bang violent game. It’s a patient game, and it doesn’t get lost in action.
JS: I agree, particularly regarding Ezio’s story in that it’s a revenge story by a passionate man who witnessed his family die and decides to battle the corruption that permeates Italy. I think there’s a great set-up there, and ACII focuses a lot on his life before he becomes an assassin. There’s obviously a lot of material for Ezio’s story (three games on the main consoles and more on the handhelds); so, for that reason I could see it working.
ND: I’m glad you brought up Ezio from the second game, because my first thought when I heard about this movie was, “I hope they use Ezio and not Altaïr.” From what has been released, it appears the movie will be based on the first game, which means Altaïr is the main character. I think this is a bad idea, because Altaïr was a mostly forgettable character. Ezio was so charismatic, I almost feel like they should ignore Altair altogether.
JS: Yeah, especially considering they’re going to have to find a way to link Altaïr’s story with Desmond’s in the present time. If those reports are correct, I think you need a really compelling story for the audience to stick with, in the event the movie relies heavily on jumping between the two time periods, and I think Ezio’s is a lot better for that.
ND: Yeah, I think a movie based on Altaïr would be a bore, honestly. Desmond is also a wet blanket, so having two main characters with no discernibly interesting characteristics would be awful. Ezio would save this. But unfortunately, that’s not the case. Do you think Michael Fassbender, who is slated to star, can make the characters come to life?
JS: I’m actually really interested in how they handle Desmond and whoever the assassin is. I wonder if Fassbender will play both parts, because I don’t see the appeal of playing Desmond compared to playing the assassin role. Sure, he has his own unique viewpoint, and he sort of serves as the audience’s connection to the story by seeing it through their eyes, but without a major reworking of how the story is presented or a heavy emphasis on the present, I don’t really see it. As you said, he’s sort of a wet blanket and doesn’t really do much or have much of an arc in comparison to Ezio, at least. I guess only time will tell.
ND: I think Desmond is a necessary character to help bring the audience into the plot, but he needs a major reworking, and Fassbender is a great actor. I actually didn’t even give a thought to Fassbender choosing between playing Desmond or Altaïr. For some reason, I assumed he’d play both. That doesn’t make sense, though. No matter who Fassbender plays, he’s going to do well. The major issue will be the writing of the characters. It’s been reported that Ubisoft, the game company, is producing the film independently, without a major production company. I actually think this may help the movie reach its full potential. They won’t have to deal with big business producers butting in and changing things for “key audiences.” This will allow the game company to create a film faithful to the game.
JS: Yeah, that should be a big help; we’ve all seen what interfering studios can do to a movie (cough… Spider-Man 3). There’s the slight chance that the studio will be so dedicated to being faithful and appeasing the fans that it might not be totally objective in recognizing what works in the film and what doesn’t. However, I’m sure they’re more than capable of delivering a good movie; it just depends on who’s delivering it and if financing is a big issue. Like you previously mentioned, a strong script is critical.
ND: It’s a bit risky, because producing a game is quite different than producing a film, considering they are two different mediums, but more often than not, the story is the worst part of video game adaptations. But if Ubisoft chooses the story, all they need is a competent director and able actors, which they have in Fassbender. So, really, the only concern is whether or not they stick to Altaïr and his storyline, which is boring as it stands.
JS: Yeah, that’s probably the biggest concern, at this point. Obviously, Fassbender is the guy you want, and if I’m not mistaken, his production company is helping produce it. If that’s the case, then you can probably assume that he is passionate about the source material, to some degree, and committed to producing a worthy adaptation. Hopefully, they can come up with a script that frames the story in the best way possible for a film. And obviously, a good director is essential.
ND: Yes, Fassbender is co-producer, so that is definitely beneficial. At the end of the day, I think we have reason to be optimistic about this film adaptation. I mean, so many video game adaptations are dead as soon as you hear about them, like the new God of War movie planned. There’s still no guarantee that Assassin’s Creed can be a solid movie, but I think it has a better chance than other games.
JS: Yeah, it’s probably the most film-friendly in the sense that it has a relatively strong story; it already has a bankable star, who also happens to be one of the best out there; and there seems to be little chance of a major power struggle between artistic integrity and financing. I think it’s safe to say that, of those games we know about that are in the works to become movies, this game has the best chance of translating, purely based on the source material. Now, they just have to execute it. The big question will be how they shift focus between Desmond and whichever ancestor he visits in the Animus. Again, only time will tell how they execute on that end.
So, it would appear we both agree that Assassin’s Creed has a good chance of working on the silver screen. What do you think? Sound off in the comments below!