Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal pretty much traumatized me as a child.
I remember seeing a Skeksis crumble to dust in the opening minutes of the film and being absolutely terrified.
Now, years later, the Jim Henson Company and Netflix have released a prequel series to the original creepy, puppet, fantasy movie, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance.
Directed by Louis Leterrier, I came into this series with a vague sense of the original movie, since I think I was 12 the last time I watched it.
Well, Age of Resistance made me want to go back and watch that film because the Netflix series is fantastic, delivering a riveting story with great characters, music and puppetry.
The Dark Crystal movie came out in 1982 so a lot of time has passed and this has given the creators the chance to improve on the puppetry and CGI.
The way the practical effects merge with computer generated effects is perfect, giving Age of Resistance a grand sense of scope.
The story follows three Gelflings; castle guard Rian (Taron Edgerton), the cave dwelling Deet (Nathalie Emmanuel) and Princess Brea (Anya Taylor Joy), learning that their lords, the Skeksis, are not so benevolent as they thought.
Realizing the threat the Skeksis pose to the world of Thra, the three Gelflings set out on their own individual journeys to stop the Skeksis and the Darkening they have caused by abusing the Dark Crystal.
I came to care about all three of these Gelfling, who are all magnificently voice acted, with my favourite probably being Deet.
I liked her arc from beginning to end and also really enjoyed her friendship with the Podling Hup (Victor Yerrid).
Another thing I surprisingly enjoyed was the Skeksis themselves, who are over the top evil in the best of ways.
The Emperor (Jason Isaacs) is a commanding overlord, and The Scientist (Mark Hamill) uses his genius in cruelly malevolent ways.
By far the most investing Skeksis is Simon Pegg’s backstabbing Chamberlain.
With his constant “MMMMMMMs!”, he is as delightfully two-faced as I remember him being in the original movie.
As for the music, it further highlights the majesty of the world of Thra, and the danger whenever the characters’ lives are at risk.
Speaking of, there are a lot of deaths.
I have heard some describe this series as Game of Thrones with puppets and that is fairly accurate; although this should have been expected, given where the original movie starts off.
However, there are a few things that stop Age of Resistance from being perfect.
One is the fact that it is sometimes hard to take certain dramatic scenes seriously because, well, the characters are puppets.
Granted, these moments are few and bar between but they still happen.
By far the biggest problem, though, is that many of the characters seem to have changes in motivation at the drop of a hat.
Seladon (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is a prime example of this; but easily the biggest instance of this is in episode four where at least four characters’ motivations seem to change almost instantaneously with no buildup.
Still, these issues do not ruin the experience as The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is a well made show with a great story and characters, and brilliant effects, both practical and computer generated.
I highly recommend it, especially for fans of The Dark Crystal movie.