Tag: Marion Cotillard

Assassin’s Creed

 

acBased on the hugely successful video game series of the same name, Assassin’s Creed is another attempt by a studio to transfer onto the bigger screen the success of its gaming origins. Although other efforts (such as Warcraft) have been met with critically tepid responses, there is no doubt that the sheer size of the video gaming industry means a ready-made market for box office success. Yes, I am one of the many who have played Assassin’s Creed … well, at least one of the nine releases within the franchise, which puts me in better stead at knowing the film’s labyrinthine mythology than its star, Michael Fassbender, who hadn’t even heard of the game prior to being approached for the role.  To his credit however, he heavily involved himself in the production and went to significant lengths to canvas Australian Justin Kurzel to direct the film. They had previously worked together, along with Marion Cotillard, on the visually arresting Macbeth.

Set in the present, Callum (Fassbender), with the help of Sofia (Cotillard) explores the genetic memories of his 15th Century Italian ancestor Aguilar by plugging himself into the Animus — a scientific invention that taps the genetic memory of its subject and projects them like a futuristic Playstation Virtual Reality headset (… hmm, there’s a billion dollar idea in there somewhere).  In doing so, Callum’s newfound skills garner information that unwittingly helps the present day Templars to locate the whereabouts of the mysterious Apple of Eden — an object that will eradicate violence by removing the free will of humanity.

There is a lot to like about the visual style of Assassin’s Creed, and it was good to see plenty of practical effects and stunts that lent a great deal of heft and physicality. The film would have been worse off had it been tempted by a heavier diet of vaporous computer generated hullabaloo, as there was enough of this already. This physicality extended to the painstakingly handmade costumes and intricately constructed sets, filmed on location in Malta and Spain.  Such visual grandeur and stunning set pieces might have won me over, but unfortunately they were overshadowed by a narrative that was in desperate need of livening up. This was in part due to a necessity to explain the film’s mythology which bogged proceedings down a bit, and also due to some overdrawn action sequences. These quibbles aside, Assassin’s Creed operates as an adequate summer blockbuster, and is perfectly serviceable for fans of the video game series.

3 stars out of 5

You can see the published review here

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Allied

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Hrmph … Allied.  Its trailer smacked of a run-of-the-mill spy thriller. A Hollywood vehicle to transport its stars toward a seasonal pay check by means of a reliable director at the helm.  I’ve seen the likes of it before so I really wasn’t keen to see this film … but I’m glad I did.

Paramount’s formulaic approach was certainly never going to set the world alight, but Allied surprised me by its entertainment value alone. Directed by the very safe Robert Zemeckis (Castaway), with a cast of two stars that will certainly get bums on seats … against my better judgement, it appears that the studio got the balance just right.

Set during the Second World War, Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) is a Canadian intelligence officer. During a deadly mission behind enemy lines in Morocco he encounters his accomplice, a female French Resistance fighter named Marianne Beauséjour (Marion Cotillard). Their faux marriage (for the benefit of the mission) soon becomes a reality after they reunite in London later in the war.  However, when doubt is cast over Marianne’s loyalty to the Allied cause it prompts Max to question his own loyalties.

Sounds fairly dull, I know, but Steven Knight (Eastern Promises) has penned a script that is so watertight, Zemeckis could have used it for Tom Hank’s raft in Castaway. Yes, it’s a little on-the-nose in parts, but the provocative glamour reaches beyond its stars’ pulling-power and steals the show. Of course there are the film’s stars. Brad Pitt is, well, Brad Pitt – It’s difficult to be anything else when you are that famous and handsome (that man still has great hair). And Cotillard injects a ripe sense of intrigue and mystery to proceedings. But central to the film’s impetus is its desire to hearken back to the classic Hollywood studio films of yesteryear, where star power and glamour were reasons enough to see a film. Make no mistake, Allied is one of these films. It’s certainly not without its faults, and there are moments of over pronounced referential eye-winking at war-time classics such as Casablanca, but despite this Allied set me on a journey that arrested my critical faculties and had me believing the unbelievable; sacrificing realism and logic for the sake of enjoyment. Yes, it is impossibly glamorous and the sex scenes among the swirling sand-storms of Morocco felt a little forced, but I didn’t care. Hrmph … I wanted to dislike it, but it was just too much fun.

Star rating: 4 out of 5

See the published review here