New Video // 2011 // 90 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Adam Arseneau (Retired) // March 2nd, 2012
Based on the blockbuster video game franchise.
Written by and starring Felicia Day (The Guild), Dragon Age: Redemption is a web series based on a popular videogame. Oh, excuse me for a moment; I'll be right back.
Okay, back. That should be sufficient time for all the "regular people" to close their web browser and find something else to read. Hopefully, it's just us geeks left, and maybe a few creepy stalkers.
Now, we can begin.
An Elvish assassin named Tallis (Felicia Day) gets one final chance at redemption, when she's sent to subdue a rogue Qunari mage. Along the way, she encounters Cairn, a Chantry Templar with similar goals, but not principles. Together, they seek to put an end to the evil mage's machinations, teaming up with a dangerous Reaver named Nyree and a Dalish Elf named Josmael.
For Tallis, this isn't just an assassination mission. Her very freedom hangs in the balance...
Felicia Day is as close to an Internet celebrity as one can be without crossing into actual mainstream stardom. From singing collaboration with Joss Whedon in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog and her self-produced MMORPG-themed online web series The Guild, to the Syfy Channel Red Riding Hood update Red: Werewolf Hunter, Day's nerd credentials run thick. Put her in a room full of nerdy types, and watch them swoon, swoon, swoon. I probably would too. What can I say? She's a charmer. This project sees her collaborating with game studio BioWare, extending the story of the hit videogame franchise Dragon Age in between the first and second game in the series.
With six episodes of content and roughly ten minutes per episode, there may not be a lot of substance, but there's plenty of style to make up for it. It's not be on par with a full-blown Hollywood production, but Dragon Age: Redemption uses its modest webisode budget well, with respectable makeup, solid sets, and elaborate costume design. We get plenty of enthusiastic, albeit slightly stiff choreographed swordplay sequences and a pleasant balance between drama and comedy. Fans of Day's other web series The Guild will feel right at home with the quipping, but the storyline feels hindered by its lack of resources. In a video game, the sky's the limit in terms of epic storylines and sweeping cinematics. In a live-action web series...not so much.
One caveat: If you haven't played Dragon Age, you must play the game before tackling this series. It's pretty much mandatory. The game is strongly rooted in BioWare's vibrant mythology, and the numerous references will fly right over the head over the casual viewer. Of course, this warning will probably fall on deaf ears. Anyone who played the game has probably already watched this series online. And played Dragon Age II. And purchased the DLC where Tallis joins your party. Just saying. This is a demographic I know well.
From a technical standpoint, Dragon Age: Redemption shows its modest production values with a flat and muted color palate, moderate sharpness, and a one-dimensional soundscape. On the plus side, we get plenty of bonus features to dig into. An audio commentary with Felicia Day and director Peter Winther provides a lively counterpoint to the on-screen action. Two featurettes ("BioWare TV: Working with Felicia," "The Making of Stunts, Costumes and Characters") provide some behind-the-scenes information, and we round out with a blooper reel and some obligatory game trailers.
Geeks and gamers will gravitate towards Dragon Age: Redemption like moths to a flame, but the inherent free nature of the online webisode slightly undermines the whole DVD delivery thing. After all, geeks and gamers are exactly the type to watch the series online for free and skip the DVD purchase altogether. So who is actually left to pay for a copy of this on DVD? Non-geeks? Non-gamers? Unlikely.
Yes, it's niche, but it's the best kind of niche. If nothing else, it's got Felicia Freaking Day in tight leather, fighting monsters. And you can pick it up for cheap on Amazon. What can I say? I'm an easy sell. If you enjoyed playing through the first Dragon Age game, Dragon Age: Redemption is a fun way to spend an hour, but repeat viewings are unlikely.
Short but fun.
Review content copyright © 2012 Adam Arseneau; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: New Video
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Official Site