Mass Effect and Dragon Age are two big franchises that has spawned books, comics, and now films to expand upon the universe and characters Bioware has created. Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker gives us an origin story for one of the characters from the video game Dragon Age 2.
Dawn of the Seeker follows the story of a young Cassandra Pentaghast, a headstrong and brash Seeker knight and dragon slayer who serves the religious Chantry order. Cassandra is ruthless on the battlefield and has a deep rooted hate for mages based on events from her very painful childhood.
Mages in the Dragon Age world are people to be feared as well as controlled. One blood mage in particular, Frenic, will do whatever it takes to see the Chantry and any opposition against mages snuffed out. Conspiracy and betrayal abound, and Cassandra finds herself at the very center of it. She is wrongfully accused of murder and treason, and is forced to work with a Circle Mage named Regalyan, or Galyan for short, to clear her name and put a stop to Frenic’s and the Chantry’s inside conspirators’ sinister plans.
Done by FUNimation, the movie is a cross between the usual anime styles and the computer generated. As the film is a Japanese production, what film wouldn’t be complete without Japanese voice actors to get involved with the project? The biggest known talent I know of from the Japanese voice acting cast is Chiaki Kuriyama of Kill Bill and Battle Royale fame who lends her voice for Cassandra. It’s an interesting choice to have a Japanese studio do the movie project based on a North American video game. I have only viewed the movie with the English voice actors, but at some point I would like to see the film with the Japanese voice acting track. The animation itself is different from the usual anime I’m used to seeing, but it works visually. At times, it feels like a marriage of anime and video game design.
The story itself doesn’t feel as engaging as it could have been. The action scenes are amazing, but most of the time it feels more like watching a game cutscene from Dragon Age the video game and not so much Dragon Age the anime film. There are too many instances where the plot gets lost among the action scenes that has too much of a video game feel and less like a film meant to delve into Cassandra’s personal story before the events that took place in Dragon Age 2.
I always liked Cassandra, but the film made me like her even less as a character. Her personality as the teeth gritting, tantrum prone Seeker brat with an angsty past makes her more annoying rather than sympathetic. I find it hard to believe that this Cassandra from Dawn of the Seeker is the same no nonsense badass I grew to love from Dragon Age 2. There is something about these two sides of Cassandra that doesn’t match up well together. Characters can have dark pasts that make them who they are with the chip on their shoulder to boot, but in this case, Cassandra comes off as a one-dimensional character I hardly cared for. It really is a shame.
The film is given a lot of potential to delve into Cassandra’s character, but it comes up short by the time the film draws to a close. The film is a visual delight, but the plot or lack of a plot is utterly buried underneath it. If you are a fan of Dragon Age, the film is worth at least one viewing if you want to enjoy the great animation this film has to offer. If you are looking for deep character backstory of Cassandra Pentaghast of Dragon Age 2, I’m afraid you won’t find it here.
Reviewer Rating: 8.0/10