Director Justin Kurzel on How ‘Assassin’s Creed’ Differs from Other Video Game Adaptations

By May 16, 2016

I’m just going to come out and say it: there’s never been a truly great video game movie. Sure, the Tomb Raider films made some money, and the first Silent Hill did a great job of recreating the atmosphere of the games before completely falling apart in the third act, but you’d be hard-pressed to find any video game adaptation that doesn’t contain some major flaws. Plenty of eyes will be on Warcraft when it hits theaters next month, but Assassin’s Creed director Justin Kurzel is hoping that his approach will finally help Hollywood crack the code.

Speaking to Collider during a visit to the film’s set in London, Kurzel spoke about the importance of capturing as much action in-camera as possible, rather than relying on green screen and CGI magic:

“We’re trying to do as much as possible in camera. We’ve gone and shot in rural locations and I was kind of determined not for this film to be a car park film, where you’re shooting just in green screen and your using most of post to help you out. It’s been really important, also just to differentiate ourselves from the game as well in terms of timing. The wonderful thing about cinema is you can bring a 3D world to life. It was important that it had its own tone and it had its own kind of dance to it that is embracing the DNA of the game, but it’s also offering up something different, which is what cinema can do, especially if you film in the real places.”

Assassin’s Creed not only reunites Kurzel with his Macbeth star Michael Fassbender, but the director has once again tapped Adam Arkapaw as director of photography, and together they’re actively trying to avoid the typical quick-cut action sequences that are prevalent in most films:

“We’re trying not to cut a lot. We’re trying to shoot the action in camera and try to work with the best stunt people. We’ve got some of the best parkour guys in the world at the moment. We’re just trying not to cheat as much. I think that, some of these films, you can get away with creating an action sequence with continuous cuts. I think we’re trying to, in an old school way, allow action to play out, and for you to be engaged with the action that’s in front of you before you’re cutting into them. That takes a lot of time and a lot of discipline.”

As far as being an original story and still remaining faithful to the source material, Kurzel is focusing more on the underlying themes of the Assassin’s Creed series, and less on specific elements from the games:

“For me, Assassin’s Creed has always been about tribe, about belonging to something. Definitely, this story is an origin story, about a man who discovers that he’s an Assassin and that he’s not alone and that in him he has a blood that runs very, very deep. Those themes and ideas are really kind of fascinating. The idea that you’re made up of the people that come before you and you somehow have some kind of conscious dialog with your genetics. I think it’s really deep and interesting stuff.”

And while its tentpole-sized budget and A-list star might make Assassin’s Creed seem like another typical Hollywood blockbuster, Kurzel insists that his film shouldn’t be lumped into the same category. “We don’t want this to be a superhero film,” he says. “We want it to be a film that embraces what it is to be human.”

Assassin’s Creed will hit theaters on December 21.

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Brent Hankins

Brent Hankins

Contributing Writer at GeekNation
Brent Hankins is a member of the Phoenix Critics Circle and co-host of the Drinks and Discourse podcast. He's also the proud owner of an Italian Greyhound named Sullivan. He's adorable (the dog, not the author).