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Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Jeremy Irons and Brendan Gleeson lead the cast for “Assassin’s Creed” set to hit Philippine theaters on January 4, 2017. “Assassin’s Creed” is directed by visionary filmmaker Justin Kurzel from Ubisoft’s worldwide hit franchise of the same title.
Through a revolutionary technology that unlocks his genetic memories, Callum Lynch (Michael Fassbender) experiences the adventures of his ancestor, Aguilar, in 15th Century Spain. He discovers he is descended from a mysterious secret society, the Assassins, and amasses incredible knowledge and skills to take on the oppressive and powerful Templar organization in the present day.
Since development began on the first “Assassin’s Creed” game, inspired by the life of Hassan-i Sabbah, a missionary who lived in 11th Century Persia, and whose followers became known as “Hashshashin”, or Assassins – the franchise has always been at the top of Ubisoft’s priority list, and since its release in 2007, there have been more than 20 games within the “Assassin’s Creed” canon, as well as comics, novels, and books.
On January 4, 2017, Philippine audiences will finally get the chance to see “Assassin’s Creed” (from 20th Century Fox) brought to life in a new film that features plenty of moments and nods that fans of the games will pick up on.
In Justin Kurzel’s big screen adaptation of the hit video game series “Assassin’s Creed,” Abstergo plays an enormous character. “It’s really the basis of the story,” notes producer Frank Marshall. “It’s where the main characters exist and work, and it houses the Animus. It’s the world we create in contemporary times.”
For production designer Andy Nicholson (“Gravity”), getting the design of the Abstergo facility right was the biggest challenge he faced on the production. “In real time, more than half the script happens at Abstergo,” he explains.
The key Abstergo set was constructed on the enormous 007 Stage at London’s Pinewood Studios, one of the biggest interior facilities in the world dedicated to film production. The entire complex is an uncomfortable clash between the present and the past, which reflects the strains Cal suffers when he is subjected to the regressions of his genetic memory.
With production wrapped on the 007 Stage, much of the shoot focused on the Animus chamber set, built separately at a facility in Langley, Buckinghamshire. The Animus chamber itself is the epicenter, not just of the Abstergo site, but of the clash between two worlds. With red brick walls and a mosaic tile floor, the set also houses the highly-technical Animus machine itself, while a glass-fronted observation room pokes through the upper wall with little grace or elegance.
The Animus has always played a key part in the “Assassin’s Creed” games, but it has never before been visualized like this. In the series, it is typically a chair or a bed on which subjects lie while they experience their regressions. In the film, with so much of the action cutting back to the modern period while Cal regresses into his 15th Century ancestor, Aguilar, the opportunity to imagine something grander presented itself.
Cal is attached to this robotic arm by his spine, which doesn’t just place him inside the regression, but moves his body physically in the way Aguilar moves within the simulation. Observers at Abstergo can then watch Cal move, and see what he sees with the help of holographic projections of Aguilar’s world. “The arm is a dancing partner for Cal, and it is reading his genetic memories. It interprets them to play the movement back so it can be experienced more strongly,” explains Nicholson. “The way we’re shooting it, if he’s fighting someone you’ll see the impact from that fight in the room for real. The chance to do that is really unusual. It simply hasn’t been done before.”