Formulas are helpful, formulas save creative juices for where one can really shine. In the case of Dragon Age, a standard fantasy setting freed BioWare up to focus on the good writing and keep a player eager to see what happens next. Saw what you will about the second one, but at least it had good dialogue. The spin offs, being what they are, tend to not benefit from the same great writing and all you got is standard fantasy. So when a CG flick is released direct to video it’s with low expectations that one watches Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker. The Japanese version is called Dragon Age: Blood Mage No Seikon, which I would prefer to call it since I’m positive that on top of being lazy the English language subtitle is lifted from something else.
An info dump is par for the course in a fantasy movie which is thankfully brief. Wasting no time, as the film is feature length, the movie starts off with a foul ritual and a heroic rescue. There are conspiracies and the story expands of plot points brought into focus during the second game, but the real purpose of the movie is to give the backstory of a supporting character who was introduced in Dragon Age II. With this all in mind, the movie does what it sets out to do and does it competently.
Archetypal would be the best way to describe the cast of characters, especially since most of them are simply referred to by their title. Our heroine is a frightening ball of fury, difficult to identify with. I found myself liking the mage sidekick best. There was one part where he was trying to talk sense to our heroine and I felt like I could actually see the notice he had to pass a Persuade check. The overly powerful girl who is contractually obligated to appear in Japanese movies doesn’t even have a line of dialogue.
Visually speaking, the movie isn’t a Pixar production but the CG is adequate and the design is consistent with the aesthetics of the franchise. Blood flows freely and stuff blows up beautifully, and the action sequences are as good as they can be when a character is battling faceless hordes. Events lead to a big finale which brings together a number of plot points and delivers on some decent action. Sadly, the most legitimately awesome part of the movie is a battle that moves so fast you can blink and miss it.
As for the ending, the arc of our heroine comes to a nice close and perhaps the movie should have ended there. It makes sense to have that additional scene which connects the movie to Dragon Age II in “To Be Continued” fashion, but since the game has already been out a while and Samuel L. Jackson didn’t appear the cliffhanger doesn’t pull in the audience. But if you absolutely have to watch a fantasy movie or you need an excuse to make a bag of popcorn vanish from the Earth, then Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker gets the job done.