Did Ubisoft Take Live Action Assassin’s Creed in The Wrong Direction?

Has Ubisoft Taken Live Action Assassin’s Creed Down The Wrong Path?

With this year being the tenth anniversary of the series and as a big fan, I’ve decided to go back through Assassin’s Creed’s extensive fiction which goes beyond games to books, comics, animation and most recently a feature film. Re-watching 2009’s short prequel episodes to Assassin’s Creed 2 called Assassin’s Creed Lineage got me thinking: did publisher Ubisoft send live action Assassin’s Creed down the wrong path over time?

Last year’s Assassin’s Creed film starring Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard and Jeremy Irons did not go over particularly well with critics or fans devoting far too much time to the modern-day segment and despite having some cool parkour and action getting bogged down in lore and exposition. The scope of the film never rested on character or story but rather plot that was more concerned with universe building than it was creating a cohesive film. This leaves Ubisoft’s plan for future films in the series in question and does nothing to further the notion that video games simply don’t make for a good film adaptation.

Live Action Assassin's Creed

2016’s Assassin’s Creed film missed the mark sadly.

However, Ubisoft has done live action Assassin’s Creed right before with Lineage. The story focuses on Giovanni Auditore, Ezio’s father as he begins to uncover the conspiracy that is central to the thread of the main game. The film is heavy with its use of CGI but the result somehow works displaying the same sepia tone as the game to create an atmospheric and moody Renaissance Italy. This comes as no surprise as actual assets for the game were transferred into the film’s production and the game’s writer Corey May worked closely with Lineage’s scriptwriter, William Raymond to ensure both storylines complemented one another rather than get in one another’s way. Lineage features some cool action, stalking and eavesdropping or to put it another way, more tasks associated with being an Assassin in the actual games rather than 2016’s feature film which focussed on set-piece action.

Live Action Assassin's Creed

Lineage relied heavily on CGI but was very faithful to the game.

The faithfulness to the game went one step further by sharing the same cast with the use of motion capture. This allows for genuine authenticity and some neat narrative moments such as seeing how Giovanni’s hidden blade was broken or how much he really knew about the conspiracy against Florence’s Medici family prior to the gamer’s control of Ezio. Obviously, the main intent of the short live action Assassin’s Creed episodes was to promote the game itself and the series has continued to do this for other games but has moved away from live action, instead opting for motion comics and the excellent animated short Assassin’s Creed Embers. There’s more content to come in the future too with producer Adi Shankar working on an Assassin’s Creed anime TV show.

Nevertheless, the question remains over whether Ubisoft was simply too ambitious with an Assassin’s Creed movie and passed over shorter, more live action projects such as Lineage too earnestly. As a business, films offer the potential for more money but in terms of building fiction and reaching out to a potential new audience, live action short episodes or films might be the best bet. This would also be good fan service offering more fiction for hardcore fans and a commitment to making well-made, quality Assassin’s Creed content, something the games haven’t always achieved.

What do you think about the likes of Assassin’s Creed Lineage? Would you like to see more live action Assassin’s Creed beyond movies?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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