For better or worse, Ubisoft Motion Pictures and New Regency have plumped Assassin’s Creed down into a release corridor traditionally reserved for Oscar fare. It’s by no means the only tentpole to have taken up residence in December, of course, with Rogue One primed to launch just a few days before the arrival of Justin Kurzel’s live-action video game movie.
But whereas one is carving out new territory within arguably one of, if not the biggest film franchises out there, the other is out to construct a new movie series of its own. Yes, if Doctor Strange is considered an exercise in risk-taking for Marvel Studios, Assassin’s Creed is also shouldering heightened expectations going into the fall season, and the pitiful response to fellow 2016 video game features such as Warcraft and Angry Birds: The Movie only lumps on extra pressure.
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Then again, putting all of that context to one side, there are a litany of reasons to get excited for Assassin’s Creed. Not only does it herald a new collaboration between the Macbeth dream team of Kurzel, Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, but early trailers and featurettes have shed light on the film’s staggering commitment to practical effects – a process that resulted in one ballsy stuntsman diving from 125 feet to recreate the franchise’s iconic leap of faith.
Working in the dark to serve those in the light, Fassbender and Cotillard will be joined by Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, Ariane Labed, and Callum Turner when Assassin’s Creed dives into theaters on December 21. It’ll open on January 6 in the UK, but the real question is whether Justin Kurzel’s historical epic can finally deliver a video game movie worthy of its source material.