Assassin’s Creed

Close your eyes and picture Michael Fassbender in that upcoming Assassin’s Creed movie that Michael Fassbender is making for some reason. Okay, open them back up. What did you see? Probably Fassbender, in a fancy robe/cape/hood of some sort. I’m guessing he was leaping across different chunks of architecture while wielding a fancy-looking knife or two. There may even have been some mention of time travel, if your mind-Fassbender had any dialogue in his general vicinity (mine didn’t, too busy leaping). Now consider Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. That, too, had fancy robes, edifice-jumping, exotic daggers and time travel. Similar stuff. And it can be difficult to picture two comparable images and not imagine comparable results: that Assassin’s Creed will make a reasonably large amount of money (somewhere around Prince of Persia‘s $355m takeaway), but wow a scant number of the people who actually paid to see it. But maybe Assassin’s Creed will buck the established trend that movies based off video games are all more or less awful. The first thing it’ll need (besides a lead actor like Fassbender) is a competent director. And the film might just have that… maybe. According to Twitch, Fox is looking towards Daniel Espinosa, director of Safe House and Snabba Cash, to helm the film. There’s a hint of promise here, with Snabba Cash a strong demonstration of Espinosa’s action movie abilities. But considering Twitch’s report doesn’t mention anything about deals or negotiations, and only refers to Fox as having “zeroed […]

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Lust of the Dead

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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According to a press release from Ubisoft, the video game company has partnered with New Regency to develop their Assassin’s Creed movie. The project is moving forward quickly because of one reason: Michael Fassbender. The actor has moved fluidly between the mainstream world (X-Men: First Class), the indie world (A Dangerous Method) and the niche indie world (everything he’s done with Steve McQueen), but taking this role might be the first major opportunity for him to headline a big film without an ensemble at his side. Which is excellent. Fassbender is unarguably skilled, and it’s been amazing to see him bob and weave with success around a filmmaking landscape that’s difficult to navigate. There’s still a long way to go with this thing, but the game is popular, and the basic concept should translate easily to a movie that involves a lot of action and violence. It’s easy to see how Fassbender would be the right actor for the job.

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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.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column that melts in your mouth, not in your hand. It also delivers a taste that doesn’t linger. Because we know you need to sleep soon, and we don’t want to disrupt such an important ritual. Lets be honest with ourselves for a moment. Even though we know that it will be a kindred spirit of Zack Snyder’s 300, we still can’t escape from the fact that Tarsem Singh’s The Immortals looks pretty badass. The evidence of this is all over the place, most notably in a new gallery of Immortals images over at Screen Rant. Tonight’s lead image features Theseus, the hero, vs. a Minotaur. I’ll watch that.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly column chronicling all that is good and true(ish) in the world. But enough gay banter, its author caught the new trailer for The Muppets this evening — it’s attached to Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides — and it was adorable. Not Pirates, that wasn’t great, the Muppets trailer. Speaking of Muppets, here’s something sad… 21 years ago today, Jim Henson passed away. Our friends over at /Film are remembering him by posting a wonderful documentary called The World of Jim Henson. It’s worth your time, as you might imagine.

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It could be a frustration with the qualitative output of video game adaptations over the past decade, but it’s far more likely that Ubisoft’s decision to open up a film division has more to do with the cha-ching of cash registers. They no doubt saw what came of a mediocre adaptation of their Prince of Persia property — $327 million dollars worldwide — and thought “hey, that’s a lot of money.” So they’ve opened up Ubisoft Motion Pictures, which according to Variety will be led by Jean-Julien Baronnet, former CEO of Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp. There’s no doubt that they will begin working to secure funding for adaptations of their biggest properties, namely Assassin’s Creed and Splinter Cell, and we can only hope they do so intelligently, with care and with co-financers. Because no one wants to see a $20-million dollar indie presentation of Assassin’s Creed, am I right?

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The answer is yes. It’s funny how video games have gotten more and more cinematic, while video game adaptations have still been mostly awful. According to Cinema Blend, Ubisoft has sent out a survey to its loyal customers that asks them several questions about movies, including whether they’d like to see Rainbow Six and Assassin’s Creed. It even asks which characters they’d need to focus on. Big studio pictures are edited by focus groups, but here’s a situation where a big company is thinking about getting into the film business by getting a big focus group together at the front end. That’s not a terrible idea. Think of the movies that could have been avoided (and the money saved) if studios has just asked people whether they wanted them or not. Both of these titles would translate impeccably well to film. Rainbow Six would be an action film done in the Tom Clancy tradition, focusing on an elite counter-terrorism team. Assassin’s Creed might get a little too Prince of Persia‘d, but it has the appeal of an elite assassin team killing powerful bad guys in a rustic European setting. They are both high concept with some decently developed characters, and there’s no reason why they wouldn’t work on screen. Hopefully those survey-takers agree, and we’ll be able to see these projects move on to the next steps.

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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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