Fangirl Movie Review: Dragon Age: Dawn Of The Seeker

I’ve been enjoying the Dragon Age universe for the past year or so. It’s got all your basics for good fantasy: epic battles, monsters, magic. Plus, it’s ideal for girl gamers like me who want to play a female role that is actually a FEMALE role and not a guy-hero in a skirt. Geek girls FTW!

So I was in fangirl heaven when Dragon Age: Dawn Of The Seeker came out the same week as the first issue of the Star Trek/Doctor Who crossover AND the season finale of Game of Thrones. So much fandom, so little time!

Message on the Chanter’s Board: Spoiler alert!

Dragon Age: Dawn Of The Seeker is a computer-animated film that acts as a prequel to the Dragon Age 2 video game. Those who have played the series know there’s quite a lot that happens between Dragon Age: Origins + Awakening and Dragon Age 2, so it’s nice to get a feel for that as well as some background for events in DA2.

The animation was good. As I said in my review of the Star Trek/Doctor Who crossover, if there is one thing I dislike it’s bad art. Other reviewers didn’t care for the CGI but I was fine with it. Give me decent visuals and I’m likely to put up with a few trailing plotlines or bad characterizations.

Fortunately there was also decent plot and characterization. I like Cassandra much more now than I did while she was interrogating poor Varric in DA2. There, she was mostly a bully with a closed mind only our smooth-talking dwarf could open. Here she demonstrates compassion, bravery, doubt, fear, regret. Most of all she has Attitude, and there’s nothing I like better than a strong female character with Attitude. (Except a certain possessed renegade mage in my boudoir, but I digress.)

And I like Galyan, except he seemed like your stereotypical Disney prince, didn’t he? The perfect Good Mage, a healer who’s not very good at combat but cares about small animals and little girls. I wish he’d had more personality than that.

I also thought the movie was heavy on the “apostates are bad, Circle mages are good” mantra. Especially given that, if you play a mage as I usually do, there is a big difference between an apostate and a blood mage. Sure, blood mages are by necessity apostates, but my Champion of Kirkwall is an apostate spirit healer (who, yes, took out the Arishok in single combat). It would have been nice to see Cassandra and Galyan spar over whether all apostates are truly evil, during the scene where Cassandra expresses her resentment toward mages while Galyan tries to convince her otherwise.

My main criticism is that I was expecting a few cameos and we didn’t get a single one. For a series that likes cameos, this seemed odd. Such as the aforementioned possessed mage, or an ex-slave from Tevinter… more Anders and Fenris, please! I figured at least Leliana would show up. I swear, for a bard-spy-assassin, that girl stands out. (Dye your hair, dear. Men always notice red.) And what of our gallant King of Ferelden? More Alistair, too!

I also wanted to know how Cassandra went from being rather sweet if single-minded in Dawn of the Seeker to the hardass we know in DA2. Can’t just be the haircut.

A bit more integration into the existing universe would have been nice, too, although I realize that’s difficult since the plots of the games can change radically depending on how you play them. Speaking of – kudos to David Gaider on overcoming that obstacle in his novels. I can only imagine how hard it must be when you have to write in a way that is consistent for all of the multiple potential plotlines in the games. As if writing a novel isn’t hard enough by itself!

I’m enjoying the expansion of the Dragon Age universe through novels, comics, video, and DLC. Eagerly awaiting Dragon Age 3!

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