While I was on my way to see Assassin’s Creed the other day, it occurred to me that the current relationship between the video game industry and the movie business really needed to catch a break. It has been so bad for so long, even the jokes about the whole mess are getting tired and repetitive. Even though Assassin’s Creed is not the savior that the video game/movie industry wanted, there were a few signs that they were at least moving in the right direction and that alone is a reason to celebrate.
It all comes down to the fact that Hollywood doesn’t understand the video game industry and its fans at all or just doesn’t care. Or maybe both. Let’s face it, making movies from an established video game franchise must look like a surefire way for a company to make some easy money without needing to try too hard. This, of course, leads to the less than stellar final product which usually ends up alienating fans more than anything else. Hollywood looking to make a quick buck is not a new idea but destroying such a huge source of wonderful material because it really doesn’t understand or care is really dumb, even for the movie business.
This year, the devoted fan base of the video game franchise Assassin’s Creed were falling all over themselves in excitement, awaiting the December release of the big budget movie treatment of their pride and joy. To be fair, it did look promising. Michael Fassbender is a wonderful actor and obviously loved playing the part of Callum Lynch, in all its action-packed/tortured soul glory. The film looked great and had some interesting ideas combined with some fine effects but…in the end the film fails in ways that are eerily similar to other video game adaptations, that being the horribly uneven mix of story, kissing up to the fan base and trying to draw new fans.
No one seems to understand how to do this properly. Ok, let’s be honest here. Some video game adaptations are just horrid, beyond redemption and terrible in every way. Some pander far too much to the loyal fan base while others ignore them completely. In between all of this, the story usually suffers the most. Trying to do too much, or maybe too little, makes the script weak and unable to hold up for half a movie let alone from start to finish.
Also, there are a lot of video game franchises now that have a pretty strong storyline and Hollywood always seems to want to screw around with a good thing. Now Assassin’s Creed has quite a convoluted story, which in turn made for some confusing moments during the film for me, a long time player of the franchise, so I can’t imagine how much head scratching was going on for those viewing the film that had never once played the game.
So what is the answer? In fact, there is no easy answer here. Someone has to find the right balance between original story and video game story, meld it together into something coherent, all the while having solid actors and directors attached and a budget that will do the movie proud. Hell, that sounds simple.
Video game franchises Uncharted and Last of Us are reportedly in development for the big movie treatment and just like Assassin’s Creed, both of these games have solid storylines, which begs the question: Will Hollywood figure out how to do these adaptations properly by the time filming is ready to begin, or will they fall victim to the same mistakes it has made over and over again?
Here’s hoping someone figures it out soon because both fans of movies and fans of the games themselves deserve a much better product than what we’ve seen up to this point.