They Live vs Dragon Age: Redemption! Goooooo!
Tallis is an elf assassin who is trying to stick to the straight and narrow. Nada is an unemployed drifter who is also trying to make his way by playing by the rules. They’re actually kind of alike. Nada believes in the American Dream and honestly seems to believe that if he works hard he’ll get his chance at getting ahead. Tallis seems to genuinely want to stick to the Qune, the Fantasy American Dream.
Where they differ includes their pasts. Nada was a laborer in another town, but the economic slump appears to have annihilated the industries he was working for there. Tallis was formerly an assassin who went off the rails and killed people beyond her mission objectives, so she was demoted to a pig butcher. The Qunari, the political elite of her fantasy country, re-promote her to an assassin as a second chance.
Nada, on the other hand, stumbles onto a plot that reveals to him the secret nature of the world. Tallis sets out to reaffirm her allegiance to the political elite where Nada spins off into rebellion.
By the end of the story Nada, once a firm believer in the American Dream, has rejected everything to help bring down a corrupt system. Tallis on the other hand supposedly rebels against her masters, but her rebellion appears to be manifested by her executing an unarmed prisoner. She doesn’t appear intent on tearing down the system like Nada, she just refuses to return to them.
Now that I think about it, Nada is probably the more likeable hero in this comparison. Nada is kind of a monster in a lot of ways but I think he’s sympathetic partially by right of his background (he fled an abusive father and is now intent on not running anymore) and his origin as his sincere effort to get by. However, he kind of becomes a mass murderer (at least to outsiders) quite quickly. Tallis is pretty unapologetically quick to murder people and only seems to regret having to deal with the consequences of disobeying her leaders.
#2. The Other Guys
Frank (played by Keith David) is by far the most likeable character in They Live and more likeable than all the characters in Dragon Age: Redemption. He’s a man who hasn’t seen his family in months and appears to, while being bitter about the world, be sincerely trying to get his life together given what he has. It’s weird that it’s him, not Nada the Believer, who seems to just want to be left alone to try and do the best he can. He’s shown to be actually quite kind and even forgiving, considering that he continually tries to help out the rather anti-social Nada, and even tries to help him after it becomes clear that Nada is a murderer. You see a lot of what is good about humanity in Frank because he isn’t like how he describes the world, where everyone is trying to tear people down, Frank is actually out reluctantly trying to help people up.
It’s this desire that pulls him into Nada’s crazy quest, and it’s that desire that ultimately kills him. Like Nada he’s just a blue collar guy down on his luck, but he discovers that luck was never involved at all. The game was rigged from the beginning and that he, and his family, have been living secretly in bondage.
It really speaks well of him that once he knows he never hesitates to take the fight to the bad guys. Contrasted against Frank we have the Templar, the Cleric, and the Barbarian. The Templar is sad because his family was killed by an evil wizard. The Cleric is sad because his girlfriend has been kidnapped by an evil wizard. The Barbarian is not sad but is in fact so mercenary that she gets purchased to the side of the good guys after one fight.
The closest thing to Frank in Dragon Age: Redemption is the Templar, in that he’s supposed to be Tallis’s closest companion and one whose life parallels her own. Like Nada, Frank comes from blue collar America, and both genuinely want the same thing, but they’re mirrored in that Frank has simply no faith in the dream, he just hopes he can get by, where Nada believes everything will be ok. Tallis believes that working for the Qunari is correct, just as Templar believes working for the Chantry is correct, both having lost everything and have filled that void with their new masters.
Tallis and the Templar, when faced with the void of existence, accept in outside powers to fill that void. Frank and Nada, when faced with the horrible truth, reject all outside powers.
#3. The Bad Guys
The evil wizard in Dragon Age: Redemption is basically just another victim of the corrupt system that the heroes serve. The evil wizard was abused by the system to be a weapon and once he rebels, destruction is really the only thing he knows. It should be noted that, despite the system being corrupt, it’s Tallis who independently assassinates the evil wizard, when her corrupt overlords simply wanted him imprisoned again.
The evil wizard, basically, is a symptom of the problem. The characters in Dragon Age: Redemption spend the entire movie attacking the symptom of their world’s corruption, where the characters in They Live directly assault the source of the corruption itself. The heroes of Dragon Age: Redemption hunt down an evil wizard and kill them. The heroes of They Live fight to the heart of the corruption and blow up it’s mechanism for hiding itself.
Both movies kind of end ambiguously, but while Dragon Age: Redemption ends with the death of Templar and the rebellion of Tallis, They Live ends with the death of everyone involved for the destruction of the status quo.
They Live is the superior movie I think in part because they actually fight the system as opposed to fighting to support the status quo.