Movie Review – Assassin’s Creed

Assassin’s Creed

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, Charlotte Rampling, Michael Kenneth Williams, Denis Ménochet, Ariane Labed, and more.

Directed by: Justin Kurzel Screenplay by: Michael Lesslie, Adam Cooper, and Bill Collage Based on the Video Game Series Created by: Patrick Désilets, Corey May, and Jade Raymond Music by: Jed Kurzel Cinematography by: Adam Arkapaw

Premise: Cal Lynch was sentenced to death for killing a pimp. Except instead of dying, he finds himself in Spain rather than Texas. Due to his DNA, he’s been picked up for a research program. One that taps into his genetic memory. The Institute is using this research not only to study violent behavior but also to find clues as to the whereabouts of the Apple of Eden. A prize that has been pursued by the Templars and the Assassin’s Creed for centuries. The stakes are higher than Cal would ever guess. (Rated PG-13)

Review:

1) Acting – Total Thumbs Up: Michael Fasbender does a great job with the double role of Cal and his 14th-century ancestor Aguilar. The two characters are polarized in different directions. It’s fun to see the two figuratively and literally face off against each other and what drives them. Marion Cotillard as Sofia was also an interesting character. She’s a brilliant scientist, yet is mostly blind as to what her research is being used for and her father’s real goals. Jeremy Irons is masterful as ever. A charismatic man with giant agendas who doesn’t care who and what he uses to achieve his goals.

2) Special Effects – Total Thumbs Up: Lots of lovely and subtle touches from the special effect’s team. In the game, the eagle is a symbol of the Assassin’s Creed (since it is a bird of prey) and is used in several sequences. For the film, they expanded on this and used the eagle in both the present and the past. I thought it made for a beautiful tie between the two men and a nice sprinkle of mysticism besides.

The recreations of the ancient cities were wonderful. They even made sure to add in the towers and a lot of the look and feel of the original game.

The concept of the Animus, a virtual reality machine used to project the genetic memory of the subject, was altered somewhat to make it more cinematic. Still, I thought it was great! The 3D visual representations as seen by the doctor and techs gave everything a ghostly, haunting quality, while for Cal being in the past was solid reality.

3) Plot/Story – Thumbs Up: You get a little backstory on Cal, which serves to help the audience understand him. It’s also used to set up some reveals further on. In general, I felt the plot was pretty straight forward with few surprises. That might also be because I know a little about the franchise. (Got to play the original game years ago – though I didn’t get far. The baud rate on the main character’s white room at the institute was low. So it would make me very dizzy, even though no one was moving!)

Some neat explorations of free will, violence, even faith. There’s even some fun mysticism thrown in for flavor. Magic, technology, God, the audience is left to draw their own conclusions.

4) Stunts – Total Thumbs Up: The film has a lot of cool CGI and regular stunt work. Watching the assassins run through the old streets and roofs of Madrid was a lot of fun. Lots of hand-to-hand combat.

5) Locations/Cinematography – Total Thumbs Up: The film was shot in the UK, Malta, and Spain. The flavors of the locations come through in both the past and present. The cinematography throughout was excellent, taking total advantage of the sites. Several scenes are from just behind a flying eagle, and they were gorgeous.

One neat section went from a painting depicting a scene in 1492 to later diving into the location back in time. Lovely!

Conclusion: “Assassin’s Creed” is a fun action film with some history and mysticism thrown in for flavor. While not exactly like the game, it keeps the most important points and makes for a satisfying ride.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)

Movie Review – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, Gal Gadot, Callan Mulvey, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Michael Shannon, and more.

Directed by: Zack Snyder Written by: Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer Based on characters created by: Bob Kane, Bill Finger, Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, and William Moulton Marston Cinematography by: Larry Fong Music by: Junkie XL and Hans Zummer

Premise: A year and a half after the events revealing Superman to the world, there are those still trying to decide what threat this all powerful alien is to Earth. As an incident in the Arab nations suddenly brings a dark cloud over Superman’s reputation, Bruce Wayne starts to believe it might be time to do something about him sooner rather than later. (Rated PG-13)

Review:
1) Acting – Total Thumbs Up: Ben Affleck does a great job as an older, less trusting Batman. Henry Cavill reprises his role as the man of steel, making it look easy. Jeremy Irons brought some lovely acerbic spice to the role of Alfred. Gal Gadot was fun as Diana Prince, letting out a little of her inner Selina Kyle (Catwoman). 😛 Jesse Eisenberg was interesting as Lex, though the character was written a little bit too manic and psycho, giving him shades of the Joker.  Amy Adams did more lovely work as Lois Lane – showing what makes her such a great reporter and friend. Holly Hunter was a hoot as Senator Finch. And though uncredited, it was lovely to see Papa Winchester (Jeffrey Dean morgan) as Thomas Wayne.

2) Special Effects – Total Thumbs Up: Tons of special effects fill the film. (I know – DUH!) 😛  We get cool lab tech, new Batman toys, and destruction galore.

The recreation of Superman’s battle with Zod but done from the perspective of a frantic Bruce Wayne on the ground was some lovely work.

The battle clash between Batman and Supes was very well done and gratifying. (Even though I did want to smack them both in the back of the head.) 😛

The short video clip files for the origin of Cyborg (as they move the movie franchise towards the Justice League) are totally awesome!

3) Plot/Story – Thumbs Up: Before the film started, they showed a short video where the filmmakers ask the audience to please not spoil it for anyone else by revealing secrets, plot twists, etc. Not sure what they were thinking would be all that surprising to give away (I had a good idea where all this was going and why just from the previews!), but I will attempt to not do any spoilers.

Anyone who’s ever read Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns miniseries will know where a lot of the material is coming from or have seen it explored before to some extent elsewhere. (Frank Miller was given credit for contributing in the film’s credits – yay!) All people and beings can feel helpless, regardless of how much money or power they hold – something both DC Comic lines have played with for years. Interestingly, they included several offshoots from other miniseries/standalone graphic novels with regards to alternate timelines/realities for Batman and Superman. That was rather fun – but also a little confusing.

One thing I must point out though – Batman does NOT kill. While they did a decent job working up why he’d change his usual MO to get rid of Superman, they did nothing to show why he’s suddenly killing human criminals. Guess you can’t have big explosions to light up the screen without killing, so killing happened. Boo!

I found it odd too how they imbued Diana Prince/Wonder Woman and Lex Luthor with traits from Catwoman and Joker. These two characters are plenty fascinating on their own without needing to be tweaked. And Lex might be insane, but he’s more sociopathic than psycho. And making something without a way to control it? Lex? Doubtful! (We also get a complete Batman origin replay, but nothing for Supes, which seemed odd?)

The only true flaw I found, however, was in one of the most important driving pieces of the plot itself – the altercation in the desert! People there died from bullets, so how the heck does that translate into Superman killing people? If the mercenaries had come back later and altered the scene, it would have been nice for the congressional hearings to have mentioned what was found to make it look like Superman committed unnecessary slaughter – otherwise, it makes no sense at all!

But, if you ignore that, the rest works for the most part. Those who know the comics and characters well, I doubt will be that surprised by the progression of events.

4) Stunts – Total Thumbs Up: A ton of stunts fill the film from one end to the other. CGI was thrown into the mix as well but is very well integrated with the real sets and fights. You’ll grunt and hurt for them. 😛

The hand-to-hand fight in the warehouse was awesome! (Even though Bats does not do guns, ya’ll! (Still looked awesome though.))

5) Cinematography – Total Thumbs Up: Lovely cinematography work by Larry Fong. Seeing Wayne manor in ruins was creepy. Tons of overhead shots or panned back shots to really bring home the scope of the battles. And nice closeups in the middle of the chaos too.

Conclusion: Batman v Superman (Shouldn’t that be vs. ? Guy in the pre-film thing said ‘v’ instead of ‘versus’ too – what was up with that?) is a fun ride full of things to think about as well as tons of action. Pay close attention to the closing scene! No extra bits during or after the credits.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price to See Again)