Huge cinematic franchises may be translated to games all the time, but the process hasn’t proved fruitful when set in reverse. Come December of next year, Dune Entertainment and Ubisoft have a chance to break that pattern. Jean-Julien Baronnet, CEO of Ubisoft Motion Pictures, shared his hopeful adaptation-recipe for Assassin’s Creed with the French magazine “Premiere.”
Baronnet promises fun, lightness, and…Blade Runner?
When speaking with lead actor Michael Fassbender, Baronnet expressed his intent to reference films like Blade Runner and Batman Begins. Ubisoft shoots for the stars to land among the greats, dropping big names in their pursuit for a movie that’s true to fan expectations. However, Ubisoft won’t produce darker film based on their outside inspiration. Baronnet seeks a marriage between light filmography and the heavier action sequences crucial for the series.
Ushering in the new will keep fans on their toes, but how will the film keep balance with its interactive predecessor?
The process for a faithful yet refreshing adaptation is a tedious one. The duality between historical and contemporary periods remains, but with a greater emphasis on equality in parallels than fans find in the games. Assassin’s Creed installments such as Black Flag can leave players exploring the past much more often than the present, but Ubisoft has no desire to see one story overshadow the other in the film. This indicates further exploration of the contemporary plot than fans have seen in the past. Optimists might say this will give audiences a greater opportunity to find solid answers, though it’s more likely that simply isn’t Ubisoft’s style.
Ubisoft presents a brand new story.
If the two periods weren’t enough to confirm the existence of a character and his hardy ancestor, solid news on that front made it to Twitter. Azaïzia Aymar, head of Assassin’s Creed content, announced that Fassbender will play two characters: “Callum in the modern day, and Aguilar will be his ancestor in the past.” This mimics a major plot point straight from the games. When pressed for details on former personalities from the franchise, he admitted to the possibility of fans seeing “familiar faces” on the big screen.
Ubisoft intends to expand the universe and its lore rather than alter it for the adaptation. Abstergo Industries, for example, has already been made a part of the set. Whether or not the movie aims to imitate the more educational aspects of Assassin’s Creed hasn’t been confirmed, though Baronnett claimed that encounters with historical figures act as a key mark of the series.
And then there’s the trademark act of assassination, not to mention crucial hand-to-hand combat.
Whether past or present, you can’t have assassins without action. Baronnet revealed that the movie will feature never-before-seen choreography alongside fighting styles that suit the nature of the brand. Hopefully, the trademark hidden blades won’t get lost in the hype. Assassins gotta assassinate, but that’s no excuse for lack of class.
As far as action goes, the movie’s inspiration reaches beyond Batman and Deckard. Ubisoft Motion Pictures hired Dan Bradely as second unit director for the film. Baronnet hints that Bradely’s involvement in “Bourne,” “Casino Royale,” and “Skyfall” will be crucial in highlighting the fun that can be found amongst all the adrenaline pumping action in worlds that live and breathe conflict.
Fans may cringe at changes, but that’s life.
As Ubisoft strives for innovation and tries to avoid too-obvious nods to gameplay, key features like the anxiety-inducing Leap of Faith may be lost in the film.
Baronnett explains why such changes will inevitably occur. (Please bear in mind that this is a direct web translation from the quote in Premier, so ignore any grammatical issues):
For a feature film, keep the main elements of the universe and its codes. What we take, and what often less the game, it’s the characters and structure, scenario. Because in a game you go where you want. You have a mission but you can stroll. We did a lot of work on the characters to give them thick and understand their own anxieties. And there was a continuous dialogue with the people of the game, which were the guarantors of the DNA but did not intervene on the scenario and the artistic choices.”
Features that exist in the game to heighten the player’s experience have no place in a movie. Audiences will explore the film’s world from preselected camera angles rather than being able to run freely down an alley that may or may not have loot. Ubisoft’s plans to stay faithful to the series’ core will just have to be enough for the time being. They can’t do anything worse to assassins than Super Mario Bros. did to lovable plumbers.
Ubisoft looks to expand its entertainment value.
Ubisoft and video games go hand-in-hand, jokes about massive patches aside. With the company looking to invest $200 million into a cinematic adaptation of Assassin’s Creed, there comes an unavoidable concern: Will Ubisoft stretch itself too thin? Baronnet seems confident that the company won’t play on marketing synergies and burn out, but his promise is all fans currently have to go off of.
The company seeks benefits beyond increased profit margins, cynics be damned. The film adaptation and the game will act as building tools for the entire brand. Each media inspires the other in turn. Baronnet claims the two modes of entertainment, while featuring very different rules, will aid developers by “mutually enrich[ing] themselves in their fields of expertise.”
Can Ubisoft avoid the wrath of its fans by producing a respectable movie? Do you think there’s any risk of the movie being too dark or too light given its intended audience? Do you plan on seeing it next December? Discuss away in the comments below, or heroically jump to the next article in that haystack over there.