With his roles in X-Men: First Class and Prometheus, we’ve already seen Michael Fassbender elevate genre works that have problems at their core to something greater than they would have been without his magnetic presence. And with his starring roles in Steve McQueen’s Hunger and Shame, we’ve seen the soaring heights that a movie can reach when they focus on the actor as their main subject. But does Fassbender have what it takes to step into the murky waters of video game movies and come out the other side without any stink on him? According to a report from Variety, we’re soon going to find out.
There have been some video game movies that aren’t that bad in the past. The Resident Evil series certainly has its fans, and voices have sung the praises of Silent Hill here and there, but we’ve yet to see a movie based on a video game break out of the video game movie ghetto and be widely considered a great film overall. Ubisoft is hoping they can change that. We reported last year that they had interest in turning their “Assassin’s Creed” and “Rainbow Six” video game franchises into feature films, and it’s looking like that wasn’t lip service. Their efforts are starting to bear fruit.
The company has started a new wing, Ubisoft Motion Pictures, which they plan to use to independently produce movies based on their video game franchises. This is a setup that will not only allow them to maintain creative control over their properties, but also allow them to save money on visual effects by using in house studios to do the work.
First up on their slate is Assassin’s Creed, a story about a bartender named Desmond Miles who learns that he comes from a long line of deadly assassins, gets kidnapped by the Knights Templar, and is thrown into a time travel adventure that involves the collection of mystical artifacts. While Ubisoft has yet to hire a screenwriter to turn the basic plot of their game into something more serviceable for the big screen or a director to steer the ship, the big news is that they’ve already signed Fassbender to star as the story’s protagonist.
UMP CEO Jean-Julien Baronnet said of the hiring, “Michael Fassbender was our first choice,” and went on to elaborate that the reason they chose the Englishman is that he’s, “an extremely smart, talented, versatile and committed actor.” That’s a hard stance to argue with, and the fact that the fledgling film company has shown such great taste with their first big decision speaks volumes for this project’s potential.
But, in order for Assassin’s Creed to truly break out of that video game ghetto and be seen as something other than the next Prince of Persia, they’re going to have to use the same good judgment when it comes to finding the screenwriter and the director. Do you think Ubisoft has it in them to keep the ball rolling? Is Assassin’s Creed the right story for Fassbender to choose as his foray into the video game world? And, perhaps most importantly, who are the filmmakers who could make this time travel adventure story really sing? Perhaps we can convince Nicolas Winding Refn to bring some of that period-based brutality that he showed us in Valhalla Rising to this project. Or is that shooting too high? Certainly Gore Verbinski would ask for a budget larger than UMP could swing. Hmm…