I just saw this; like just now (I started writing this immediately after getting home). It was fantastic. It's hard for me to understand the negative reviews. I'll try to address them in my review but the main focus is going to be my own impression.
The prologue does a good job of providing information about the series, the Assassin vs Templar war, and the Apple of Eden. There's this awkward text scrawl at the start but it passes quickly and the mission briefing for Aguilar is much more effective. There is no info dump anywhere around here.
Just like in the games, there are two plotlines: there is one in 1491 and one in the modern day setting of 2016. I don't think it is asking too much for audiences to follow two plotlines, and especially not when they interweave this much. The 1491 plotline follows the local chapter of the Assassin Brotherhood attempting to prevent a conquest of Granada by the Templars(via the Christendom coalition) in addition to keeping the Apple of Eden stored there from falling into Templar hands. The 2016 plotline is the Templars researching the 1491 plotline through the Animus technology developed by Abstergo. Callum's personal plotline involves his conflict with his heritage, both in his father and his ancestor. It was interesting to see him introduced to this shadow war, gain information and waver back and forth on the fence before coming down on one side. It's developed well in my opinion.
I like the use of the new Animus. Augmented reality with solid weapons instead of a chair makes sense from a Watsonian POV. Surely being able to move around and mimick movements and have something iconic in one's hand would aid the synchronization. The cutting back and forth aids the perception of synchronization as well as the concept of the Bleeding Effect (via muscle memory). Although, I can understand why some don't like it; it is kinda of jarring or even narmish to see Aguilar fighting real enemies in his present and then Callum lashing out at nothing and climbing aspects of a machine instead of Aguilar with a building. The first time the machine starts up is an extended process but that is just for the first time; likely so the audience can see how it works.
The game series as a whole has a grey-and-grey morality even if the individual games themselves do not. One can understand why Sophia wants to eradicate violence in humans at large while also recognizing the extreme means and ends that she is working with and towards. It is easy to both sympathize with the ideas of freedom represented by the Assassins in general while also seeing that their methods are bloody (both for themselves and others).
I was not confused by the plot developments and had no difficulty following them. I thought there was sufficient exposition without going into info dump. I have a working understanding of the story's lore but I was also paying attention.
The ending is good. It is conclusive but it also has a sequel hook. Similar to the games, it is a single chapter in the ongoing war between Templars and Assassins.
I like Callum Lynch. He's a complex guy; got a lot of layers. He's a Momma's Boy because he only has fond memories of her and something crucial regarding that happens in the main narrative. He has a mess of Daddy Issues because his Dad apparently killed his mom. He says that he is an aggressive guy but also that violence helped him stay alive which implies he would rather not be aggressive. He was "executed" for capital murder and yet it is the mercy that his assassin ancestor demonstrates that, to me at least, is the turning point in the climax. He doesn't like the Brotherhood of Assassins or their Creed and comes to want to destroy them but then comes around to understanding them.
Sophia, likewise, is a complex Templar. She doesn't seem to care about the war with the Assassins and insists that Callum enter the Animus of his own violation despite her "life's work" hanging in the balance and the fact that time is not on her side. It's more like convincing him to join her side, or at least her cause, and she wants to bond with him instead of using coercion and impersonal force like her father. It's the Templar goal of improving humanity by infringing on free will (in this case, the capacity and tendency for violence) but her methods and ideology are Assassin-like.
What I like about the Assassins in general is that they are impressive but not superhuman. It's like a deconstruction of Charles Atlas Superpower. Their training makes them skilled and strong and quick etc. but they are still human. It makes their commitment to personal sacrifice more meaningful because the sacrifice is often necessary.
Unfortunately, not everyone gets development. There are two plotlines and two casts so there's not enough screen time to go around. However, I feel that this resource was well utilized and that minor characters were given sufficient development for their role.
This movie looks amazing. I'm talking about the practical effects for things like the Hidden Blade and Leap of Faith. "CGI slogfest" does not describe this movie. When reading reviews along those lines, it sounded more like a generic insult then something specific with this movie.
Trickster Eric Novels gives Assassin's Creed 2016 an A+
Click here for my previous movie review: Doctor Strange (2016 MCU)