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Assassin's Creed by Jed Kurzel (Review)

posted Jan 10, 2017, 5:08 AM by Leo Mayr

Assassin's Creed
 is yet another flawed movie based on a popular videogame. For some reason, whenever a videogame is adapted to the big screen, we end up with a mediocre film at best. And while Ubisoft's latest efforts at bringing one of their most popular franchises into cinemas sounded promising, the result is still disappointing. Australian director Justin Kurzel was even able to bring his brother and long time collaborator to compose the score. The Assassin's Creed games have always featured stunning scores by various composers, ranging from Jesper Kyd to Lorne Balfe, Brian Tyler and most recently Austin Wintory. Each composer was able to bring something new to the franchise.

Jed Kurzel was able to bring his minimalistic style into the movie, creating a mostly ambient score that rarely takes the spotlight over the visuals. There are no major themes that stand out, with the most recurring element being the main 'action cue'. The score contains one basic action cue that is used for every single action scene the film has to offer. Sure, it is mixed up a little with some different sounds thrown into the mix, but the basic structure always boils down to a very simple action motif. While it does a nice job at defining the film's musical identity, it does so through sounds and not melody. And while this works for the film, it also ends up being rather bland and unmemorable. The score does an admirable job at infusing the film with the neccessary emotions, yet it does so in a very minimalistic way.

Kurzel's score consists of mostly instrumental sounds, with some electronics that become more dominant for the final act of the movie. The soundscape is consistent throughout the film, yet the lack of practically any thematic structure or development make the experience unmemorable and even bland at times. There are a few great moments that stand out, most notably the final scene in "Future Glory" and Kurzel manages to keep the action scenes loud and engaging. The emotional moments are effective, yet there's no differentiated characters or motifs in the music. Kurzel does a great job at scoring the individual scenes, yet the overall movie ends up sounding unspecial alltogether.

The music is somewhat remniscient of some of Jesper Kyd's earlier work on the game series, yet Kyd introduced a stunning main theme for Assassin's Creed 2 and focused more on melodic storytelling as the series evolved. Going through the Assassin's Creed scores of the past years, there are so many wonderful and memorable moments and themes, so hearing Kurzel's atmospheric take is just underwhelming. Kurzel executes his score flawlessly, yet it seems he refused to let the music take the spotlight for even one moment and considering the franchise's rich musical legacy, I cannot help but feel disappointed. While the score does what it should do, it does so in the most basic way possible. Perhaps Kurzel's atmospheric style will be more appropriate for the upcoming Alien: Covenant later this year.