Assassin's Creed: More of the Auditore Story Revealed
Assassin's Creed: Lineage and Embers
Distributed by: Ubisoft
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Since the first promo I saw on television for the Assassin's Creed video game series, I was hooked. I loved the idea that someone had thought to combine actual events in history with a video game. I was intrigued at the idea that, in this game, the Knights Templar were actually the bad guys and the Order of the Assassins were the good guys. I rushed out to learn more about the games and bought several of the books based on the video games.
My favorite character in the series thus far is Ezio Auditore da Firenze, the son of a banker who is betrayed, his murder revealing to Ezio his fate in life as an assassin. I read the trilogy of books based on the games that included Ezio and even bought the video game trilogy, though, I must confess, I have yet to find time to play them.
So when I heard that there were mini-movies that furthered the Ezio Auditore experience, I knew I had to check them out.
Assassin's Creed: Lineage is a series of three live action short films meant as a prequel to Assassin's Creed II, the game in which we are first introduced to Ezio. In Lineage, we meet Giovanni Auditore (Romano Orzari), a banker, a family man and an Assassin based in Italy during the 15th Century.
Learning of a plot to overthrow the powerful Medici family by Rodrigo Borgia (Manuel Tadros), Giovanni vows to bring this man and his cohorts to justice. Unfortunately, evil lurks within the ranks and Lorenzo de' Medici's (Alex Ivanovici) aide, Uberto Alberti (Michel Perron), betrays Giovanni, setting him up for the Templars and bringing them closer to their goal of world domination. By the end of the film, we realize that the city guard is coming for Giovanni and the events that set Ezio (Evan Bostick) following his father's path as an Assassin are about to take place.
I wasn't sure if I would like a live action version of Assassin's Creed. Previous live action films based on video games haven't faired all that well, but I can honestly say that Assassin's Creed: Lineage wasn't all that bad. The casting was excellent and it was easy to believe Romano Orzari as a highly skilled assassin. The action scenes were well-choreographed and believable. The acting was only as good as the writing, which was a little stilted, and there were slight differences in the dialogues between Giovanni and Ezio in the movie as opposed to those found in the books, but I found that Lineage was overall, an enjoyable prequel to the Ezio Auditore storyline.
Assassin's Creed: Embers is meant to be a closing to the Ezio Auditore storyline. Fans of the books will note that this is the final chapter of Ezio's life depicted in Assassin's Creed: Revelations. In this animated short film, Ezio (Roger Craig Smith) has long been retired from the life of an assassin, finding happiness in his wife and two children and his vineyard. He has taken to writing his memoirs, though he has not been extremely happy at the results of his writing. Ezio's health is not perfect, but he refuses to pay attention to such silly matters.
Just when Ezio believes his life is nearing perfection, a visitor appears. Shao Jun (Angela Galuppo) is a Chinese female Assassin who has arrived begging Ezio to help her understand how to liberate her people from the power of an evil emperor. Ezio resents this interruption of his retirement and a return to the life he has finally been made free of and immediately refuses to help. But, after an attempt on Ezio and Shao Jun's lives in Firenze and an explanation of all she has been through in her life, Ezio relents. Helping Shao Jun to defeat the Emperor's thugs, he helps set her on the right path, offering her a small box that may help her should she lose her way, presumably containing some of the artifacts that helped Ezio along his path as an assassin.
The film ties up Ezio's story and offers up a plausible ending for the assassin that will leave the more sensitive fan in tears. I loved this line from his memoirs: "When I was a young man, I had liberty, but I did not see it. I had time, but I did not know it. And I had love, but I did not feel it. Many decades would pass before I understood the meaning of all three. And now, the twilight of my life, this understanding has passed into contentment." The animation was well-done and Ezio was just how I pictured he'd be in the twilight of his life. I loved actually seeing this ending that I had read in print not so long ago. I had pictured it in my mind's eye well, but Embers furthered the experience and made it almost real for me.
So, in closing, if you are an Ezio Auditore fan, these two short films are a must see to complete the Assassin's Creed Auditore experience. They aren't perfect theatrical films, but they are definitely worth watching to bring you a picture of the beginning and ending of Ezio's life as an assassin.