By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist July 9, 2012 at 8:15AM
The history of the video game movie has not been a glorious one. With most games being fairly heavily derivative of movies in the first place, potential adaptations have struggled to become distinctive, and low-calibre talent has generally been involved to date, bastardizing games (e.g. "Super Mario Brothers") or simply choosing the wrong ones to adapt (like the string of movies based on beat-em-ups). When the not-very-good "Doom" is pretty much the high watermark of the genre to date, you know you're in serious trouble.
But with "Chronicle" director Josh Trank working on a version of acclaimed game "Shadow Of The Colossus," things might be looking up, and now another serious name has come on to take a role both in front of and behind the camera with a big-screen take on one of the most acclaimed and best-selling game franchises of the last few years. Yes, Michael Fassbender seems to be a closet gamer, and according to Variety, has signed on to star and produce in a movie based on the "Assassin's Creed" series.
First released in 2007, with four subsequent sequels (as well as various spin-offs), the game involves Desmond Miles, a bartender kidnapped by a corporation and forced to use a machine called the Animus, which allows him to relive the memories of his ancestor Altair, who was an Assassin in the Middle East during the Crusades. 2009's "Assassin's Creed II" saw him take up the mantle of another predecessor, Ezio, in Italy in the 14th century, while the upcoming "Assassin's Creed III" (watch a trailer below) will involve a half-Native American protagonist in Colonial America at the end of the 18th century.
So there's serious franchise potential here, and the game's creators Ubisoft have opted to take a leaf from Marvel's book by developing the movie independently; they're currently searching for a writer and director before setting up at a studio, possibly Sony, with whom the company were in talks last year before discussions were halted. Fassbender's clearly taking serious interest in this, given that he's making his feature producing debut (he did take that role on the BAFTA-winning short "Pitch Black Heist"), as well as starring -- Ubisoft Motion Pictures head Jean-Julien Baronnet comments that the actor was their first choice, and indicates that he's likely to play Altair in the film, although there's no word if he'd also play Desmond, Ezio or other characters in the film.
Either way, it's quite a coup for the company to land a star as sought-after and picky as Fassbender, and the actor having creative input (we imagine he'll be able to handpick a director) certainly makes us more interested in the prospect of a film version. We've kind of enjoyed our (admittedly brief) experiences with the game, and can see that the potential is there for something a cut above the likes of "Double Dragon" and "Max Payne," although we hope the writer is able to curb some of the scientific babble and confusing storytelling in places. Still, the film's likely to be hugely expensive, and with no writer or director, we're quite a few years away from seeing it. Who would you hire to shepherd the project? Rupert Wyatt is the kind of name that springs to mind for us (the two were hoping to collaborate on "Londongrad" last year), but you can let us know your own picks in the comments section below.