Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker (Blu-ray Review)

The sun rises on a thrilling new era in Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker – the first feature-length animated addition to the Dragon Age world.  In the land of Orlais a brash young seeker – Cassandra – fights to stop a blood-soaked conspiracy.  Hidden hands seek to tear apart the realm’s most powerful religious order.  And, as the sinister plot unfolds, Cassandra is accused of trewason and murder.  Hunted by friends and foes alike, the impulsive beauty must clear her name while clashing with corrupt Templars and rogue Blood Mages.  Should she fail, the executioner’s blade awaits.  Should she overcome her rage and expose the unseen forces threatening the rule of the Divine, Cassandra will take her place in legend.


In this case, a Japanese-made, photo-realistically-rendered, motion-capture CGI fantasy takes place in a Tolkeinesque fantasy realm, so the fact that not one character resembles an Asian never becomes an issue.  The fact that everything about the narrative is predictable?  Well, that’s more problematic.

Dragon Age is actually a video-game franchise with some elaborate backstory to it, of which “Dawn of the Seeker” apparently functions as a prequel (damn, did Pac-Man ever need a prequel? Just out of step with the times, this reviewer).  The Catholic-Christian imagery blasts are laid on pretty thickly, as the matriarchal “Chantry,” worshipping the “Maker” under a sort of woman Pope, helps keep the world safe from dangerous magic, especially the sort that proliferated under the dread “blood mages.”  Here a renegade band of such sinister sorcerers have kidnapped and corrupted an elf girl, for the purposes of controlling dragons, in a scheme to bring down the Chantry with the aid of some traitors inside the sisterhood.

Only a virtuous magician and a fierce dragon huntress named Cassandra can avert the catastrophe.  Of course, Cassandra hates all magicians, virtuous and blood mages alike, so their petty bickering/mutual lifesaving can be accurately foreseen without any wonder-working gifts of prophecy.  The mismatched pair go on the run, wrongly accused by the real perps, also pretty unsurprising.  The most potentially interesting part of the whole thing is the elf-girl angle, just by virtue of not having been overdone by heroic-fantasy mongers.  The confinement and dark enchantment of a magical being to do Very Bad Stuff – that could be a pretty neat subplot – and if you want a whole anime that takes on this theme, check out Ga-Rei-Zero.  But here nothing special is done with it, as Cassandra matures as a warrior-princess, and the Chantry (SPOILER ALERT, YEAH RIGHT) gets saved.  Then proceed to Level 2, I guess.


There are no dark enchantments to be found anywhere here.  The video looks pristine with a solid 16:9 picture that fills your entire viewing area.  Of course, the Blu-ray comes equipped with its 1080p HD offering.


The Blu-ray has Dolby TrueHD 5.1 with dialogue either in England or in Japanese.   The DVD version has Dolby Digital Surround in both languages.  Subtitles are an option.  The action is bombastic and the audio is clear throughout.  What more could you want?


The DVD includes a making-of and backstage tour of Canadian game-factory Bioware, informing the non-gaming viewership by the way that the Dragon Age “Universe” is a bit more ambitious, sexier and intricately planned than this plotline would suggest.  The Blu-ray/DVD combo pack we got also had a coupon for a digital-exclusive Dragon Age comic.


Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker is eye-candy watchable, but seldom rises above being an extended promo for the game.  Well, you know what they say, there’s a Seeker born every minute.


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