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'Assassin's Creed': Can Michael Fassbender break video-game curse?

July 09, 2012|By Steven Zeitchik
  • A shot from the popular video-game franchise.
A shot from the popular video-game franchise. (Ubisoft )

There’s no shortage of big-name stars who have tried to make movies out of hit video games. Mark Wahlberg and “Max Payne.” Dwayne Johnson   and “Doom.” Jake Gyllenhaal  and “Prince of Persia.”

There is, however, a shortage of such movies that have succeeded on any level (pretty much  “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” and, if you count Milla Jovovich as a big-name star, the “Resident Evil” franchise.)

Which makes today’s news, first reported by Variety, that Michael Fassbender is throwing his  weight behind an “Assassin’s Creed” movie just a little bit noteworthy. Continuing a departure from his  largely art-house-y past, the Irish-German actor will produce and star in a tent pole action adventure that’s being developed in-house by the video-game giant Ubisoft.

PHOTOS: Game over or game on: Video game adaptations

 “Assassin’s Creed” is the hugely popular video-game franchise about an unassuming bartender, Desmond Miles, who is actually descended from an elite group of assassins called upon to fight evil forces throughout history. Previous versions have been set against the Crusades and the Renaissance; a new edition set during the American Revolution comes out in October.

Fassbender, who will play Miles, has a unique cachet. He’s a highly skilled actor who’s also hugely popular, something that can’t be said of many of the actors who’ve tried this before. He also has currency in the fan world thanks to some of his recent blockbuster turns as Magneto in "X-Men: First Class"  and as a cool-headed cyborg in this season's "Prometheus."

But Ubisoft has its work cut out for it. The company no doubt hopes that it has a "Da Vinci Code"-style property on its hands. But the conventional wisdom has been that these video-game movies are set up to fail, not least because a narrative from an Xbox or PS doesn’t tend to translate to movie screens. (If they even get that far.) And Ubisoft is developing "Assassin's" in-house, without the input of a studio and its film know-how.

Then again, it can't do much worse than those that have come before.

ALSO:

'Prometheus' oozing sci-fi spectacle, critics say

Michael Fassbender, Steve McQueen on a serious roll

Why couldn't David O. Russell and Sony make it work on 'Uncharted'?

Follow me on twitter at http://twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

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