The Assassin's Creed franchise has always tried to do its best to juggle the modern and classic eras for each installment's co-existing plots. So naturally, the expectation has been set for the upcoming feature film to match that sort of storytelling, and to a certain degree it does. However, the Michael Fassbender film will be flipping the formula, and spending 65% of its story in the modern day, with the remaining 35% taking place in 15th Century Spain.
IGN gained these details during their set visit, and leading man Fassbender helped to shed some light on just why such a decision was made. He stated the following reasoning as the impetus for the swap:
There are certain things that we absolutely want to respect in the game, but we also want to bring new elements to the game [...] This isn’t a video game that we’re making. We’re trying to make a cinematic experience, so there are new things that we have to introduce.
That having been said, let's push through the obvious negative criticisms that Assassin's Creed already has brought upon its film adaptation. Quite simply, the strategy laid out by Michael Fassbender makes the film adaptation of the best-selling video game franchise all the more alienating to die hard fans that just want to see haystacks and extreme jumps from bell towers. While some may say this is another case of purists simply complaining that they can't watch the game they love on the big screen, their complaints seem well founded when you take into account that the Assassin's Creed series has always put more stock in the past lives aspect of their storylines. Still, this new approach resembles an opportunity for Justin Kurzel's film, as it give him an opportunity to make a good film that isn't as beholden to the game it came from.
For the more forgiving fan, or the casual movie-goer, that finds themselves interested in the Michael Fassbender produced adaptation, the new approach provides more incentive to watch Assassin's Creed. Mainly, because a new experience set in the universe of the property would allow folks to be surprised by every twist and turn. Not to mention, the fact that 65% of the Assassin's Creed film takes place in the world of the modern is a fact that could help the world of the games become all the richer. With the modern world being paid so little attention in the past, perhaps the new film will seek to fill in the gaps of Abstergo Industries' true motives in a way that the games never could. For a change, the film version of the games could help inform future installments of the video game franchise, rather than retread older stories with diminishing returns.
With Michael Fassbender and Justin Kurzel leading a cast and crew of top notch talent, and a pretty good looking first trailer, Assassin's Creed is still treading on thin ice, but it's doing so with footsteps lighter than its more plodding predecessors. Should this film stick the landing, audiences could find themselves flocking to the video games, and gamers could also find themselves looking forward to future films, thus doubling the demographic for Ubisoft's infamous franchise. Though even if the film fails, there's always the hope that the next game will somehow make amends by pointing out said film's failure in a cute and clever manner. December 21st is the moment of truth for Assassin's Creed and video game films in general, so we've still got some time to go until we see how it all pans out.