When shorts and teasers for Assassin's Creed were making their way online, the buzz and excitement around the production was palpable. With an all-star cast lending weight to the adaptation of the universally popular video game, surely it was a win-win situation for the studio to make this happen? Not exactly.
Still short of making a profit at the box office with a return of $99.9m from the $125m budget, the Justin Kurzel picture has been criticized for an incoherent script and overuse of violence to create a gory spectacle. Unfortunately, a spectacle that doesn't bring the audience along for the ride. Yet the leading performance of the German-born Irishman in Michael Fassbender has been described as the redeeming feature for a movie that promised much, but ultimately delivered little.
UK View: Surprisingly Dull
Wendy Ide from The Observer in England gave the flick an embarrassing 2/5 rating as she classified it as a "preposterous adaptation" that falls short of expectations. Arguing that it fills in the gaps with medieval parkour rather than action sequences that are true to the story, Ide says that the filmmaker uses a lot of tricks to distract from the fact that, under the surface, there is nothing there.
Penning her conclusion, Ide went on the offensive to slam the picture. "All the pyrotechnics, which include suspending a semi-naked Fassbender in midair, dangling from a hydraulic arm, are not enough to distract from the fact that this is preposterous, under-plotted and surprisingly dull."
Rolling Stone More Sympathetic, But Can't Ignore Faults
Next to serious players in Jeremy Irons and Marion Cotillard, Peter Travers from Rolling Stone believed there was more to the movie than the reviews would imply. And argued against dismissing it out of hand.
"Here's the thing: Fassbender and Kurzel are playing this stuff for real, as if it means something significant," argues Travers. "Their enthusiasm is infectious ... up to a point. This is a classy cast for pedaling junk. And if there is such a thing as impish menace, Irons has it."
Proceeding to talk up one sequence in particular that utilized a clever cinematography technique, the 2.5/5 review thought that those who parted with their hard earned could still enjoy certain aspects, even if the execution left a bit to be desired.
"There's a seed of ambition in this one that suggests the transfer of a video game to the screen doesn't always have to be a suicide mission," says Travers. "Assassin's Creed is no one's idea of perfect, but it's progress. And that's something."