Why do video games almost never translate well into cinema? A lot of the movie is in what you show, and even more is what you don't. Whenever you're adapting a story from one form of art to another, a lot is lost in translation. That's true when you make a movie out of books, comics, and video games. The most obvious loss presents itself in the lack of the complete story as we had known it. For example, if Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was adapted word-for-word into the movie, we'd be looking at a film lasting 8 hours. I'm sure the hardhore Harry Potter fans wouldn't mind, but most of us can agree that the condensed version was a much better idea.
Another loss happens in style itself; a subjective loss, rather. Both video games and film demand a willing suspension of belief, but not of the same kind. For instance, in Assassin's Creed 2, you're willing to believe that while Ezio wears a distinctive white costume fettered with armor and is still able to evade 10 guards who'd been chasing him for the past hour by simply sitting on a bench nearby. Although you have to admit, his outfit is seriously cool, imagine Fassbender doing the same thing in the upcoming movie. It just wouldn't translate well, so an adaptation is necessary.
A lot of the reasons why a good videos haven't always made good movies is the misunderstanding of what makes a video game brilliant. Films may occasionally break the fourth wall, but video games allow you to pull the strings. Sometimes, the joy lies in being able to control the action rather than just watch it take place.
A great example of something that needs to be carefully adapted is the 'leap of faith', a maneuver that became nothing short of a cult phenomenon in video game communities after the series became immensely popular. It shows the assassin in question gliding off a rooftop, almost eagle-like, to make a soft landing on a bale of hay. Yes, I've felt like a God while doing that.
How will Kurzel and Fassbender pull this off in the film?
The game has conditioned us into accepting that the assassin can leap off a sky-high tower, land in a bale of hay and not be crushed by basic physics. On top of that, no one near the said pile of hay seems bothered by it. As gamers, we accept this because we are involved in the thrill of the fall. You may think that the creative minds behind the movie would leave this out of the movie entirely, but the trailer shows Fassbender on the brink of pulling off the move (but blacks out in time for the unseen landing). If he actually does land on a hay bale, then Reddit will crush him long before physics does. We have no way of knowing for sure how this pans out, so it requires fans to take a leap of faith on the filmmakers to get it right.
Pleasing the Fandom and Introducing New Audiences
There's no gainsaying that everyone who will watch the film has heard of the video game, or at least know the basics of its storyline. While the game has been hugely successful, it's easy to forget that the layman with the ticket might have never touched a console. But is it possible to please those who are familiar and new to Assassin's Creed?
So many great filmmakers have tried to please both and ended up doing neither. Hardcore comic book fans still call out Christopher Nolan on not showing Bane's venom in The Dark Knight Rises, and some maintain that Superman killing Zod in Man of Steel was uncharacteristic, while others feel that it was a key point in his character development. What do you do as a filmmaker when you're up against so much positive and negative reactions simultaneously? My best guess is to sit tight and stick to why you wanted to make the film in the first place. Which leads me onto my final point.
Why Assassin's Creed Might Just Be a Great Film After All
Assassin's Creed has got everything you'd want to see in a film - the mystery of a secret society working in the darkness through the ages to bring order in chaos, a period-drama that shows the Spanish Inquisition in a new light, and Micheal Fassbender. The trailer reveals that they've already got many things right. The costume is on point, the classic 'air assassination' seems well-executed, and the movie's lighting seems to match that of the video game. Could this signal that the movie will, in fact, please audiences that are familiar and new to the franchise?
The possibilities with this movie are endless. Casting Marion Cotillard and Jeremy Irons is rarely mistaken and if this film goes well, there a chance that Assassin's Creed will successfully run as a film and video game franchise side-by-side. The story should be taut, the cinematography should be breathtaking, and the music should set the tone of the film. If these basics rules of thumb are taken into account, as shown in the trailer, the massive culture surrounding the game will take care of everything else.
Assassin's Creed hits theaters on December 21, 2016. How do you think it will fare? Check out the trailer below and don't forget to leave a comment!
You can read more of my articles including film reviews on my blog, A Study in Taste. (https://shahhasspoken.wordpress.com/)