Action Adventure

'Assassin's Creed' Blu-ray Review: From master of magnetism to master assassin, Michael Fassbender takes on the popular video game franchise

March 20, 2017Ben MK

Based on game developer Ubisoft's popular franchise — which spans nearly a decade's worth of entries, from 2007's Assassin's Creed to 2015's Assassin's Creed: SyndicateAssassin's Creed stars Michael Fassbender as Callum Lynch, a hardened convict who finds himself sentenced to death, only to be seemingly resurrected. The reason behind his second chance at life? So that he can become a human guinea pig in a cutting-edge scientific experiment, one that attempts to harness the memories of his ancestors, which happen to be hidden away in his DNA.

What follows hews fairly closely to the overall premise of the award-winning game series, as Callum — taking on the identity and wielding the deadly weaponry of his long-dead ancestor, Aguilar de Nerha — is thrust into the midst of the Spanish Inquisition, where he and his fellow Assassins must outwit and outkill their enemies in the battle for a powerful artifact known as the Apple of Eden. Meanwhile, back in the present day, scientist Sofia Rikkin (Marion Cotillard) promises Callum a new life for his efforts — a promise which may or may not be fulfilled.

Directed by Justin Kurzel and scripted by Michael Lesslie, Adam Cooper and Bill Collage, Assassin's Creed does a good job establishing the story's mythology, but it does an even better one delivering on the swift and brutal violence gamers are no doubt craving, realizing it through a combination of melee combat and parkour-like action. On the downside, however, these moments don't actually comprise the bulk of the film's running time, which is actually set in modern-day Madrid, within the retro-futuristic confines of a sprawling research facility.

Still, Assassin's Creed registers as a cut above your average video game movie. And with a highly respectable cast that includes Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, Charlotte Rampling and Michael K. Williams, it's clear that the filmmakers aren't just looking to start a cinematic franchise — they're also aiming for a more dignified demographic than your run-of-the-mill, sci-fi/fantasy beat-em-up. The good news for the games' fan base is that Assassin's Creed mostly achieves those lofty goals, despite the fact that it does stumble somewhat along the way.

Assassin's Creed makes the leap onto Blu-ray with a strong technical presentation, and the results are more than satisfactory. From sleek, futuristic technology to the gritty, rough-hewn textures of old-world Spain, there's no shortage of detail in this 1080p image, which also boasts excellent color saturation, contrasting the cold, blue hues of the modern-day scientific facility Callum finds himself in with the warmer, earth-toned palette of the past. Likewise, the accompanying Dolby Atmos sound mix is equally immersive. Allowing both the English and Spanish dialogue and the dramatic score to resonate with crystal clarity, it's also bolstered by sounds such as galloping horses, not to mention enemies being battered, slashed and thrown from rooftops, landing with a thud on the ground below.

Fox's two-disc Blu-ray combo pack includes an iTunes/UltraViolet/Google Play digital copy, a DVD and the following Blu-ray extras:

  • Take the Pledge: Behind the Scenes of Assassin's Creed (41:25) - A five-part making-of documentary that explores the legacy of the game franchise, the cast's physical training for their roles, the costumes and weaponry, the production and set design, and the stunt choreography and action sequences ("Legacy of Assassin's Creed," "Becoming an Assassin," "Tools of the Trade," "In the Realm of Realism" and "Swift Moves and Stealth Maneuvers").
  • Conversations with Justin Kurzel (20:26) - Four featurettes in which Director Justin Kurzel discusses the film's music, the editing, the visual effects and the story, with some help from Composer Jed Kurzel, Editor Christopher Tellefsen, VFX Supervisor GED Wright and Co-Writer Michael Lesslie ("The Score," "The Cut," "The Effects" and "The Story").
  • Deleted Scenes Conversation with Justin Kurzel & Christopher Tellefsen (22:25) - Kurzel and Tellefsen discuss the footage excised from the film, in particular the removal of a subplot involving the character of a 14-year-old girl named Lara.
  • Deleted Scenes (15:56) - Ten scenes ("Protect the Apple," "Lynch is Dangerous," "Connection," "I Remember Him," "That's the Wrong Card," "Preparing to Fight," "We are Assassins," "Climb," "Out of the Shadows" and "Alternate Ending").
  • Gallery - 14 images of "Concept Art," 35 images of "Costumes and Weapons," and 47 images of "Unit Photography."
  • Trailer (1:57) - The film's theatrical trailer.

Assassin's Creed is available from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment as of March 21st, 2017. The Blu-ray features English Dolby Atmos, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French DTS 5.1 and English Dolby Digital 5.1 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English SDH, Spanish and French subtitles. The total runtime is 1 Hr. 55 Mins.

* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original review of the theatrical release, published on December 20th, 2016.

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