The Dark Crystal is one of those 80s movie that makes you think they were using a lot more weed than you might think. The movie was directed by the late Jim Henson and Frank Oz (Yoda). Henson was always a genius and I am still saddened when I think of his passing in 1990. A sequel to the 1982 fantasy movie had long been rumored, but it still came as a surprise that Netflix would take up the offer to produce a 10-part series.
The world of The Dark Crystal
So what is The Dark Crystal all about? The story is set in the fictional world of Thra. The fate of this world is intimately tied to a mysterious crystal. Under the egregious stewardship of the Skeksis the crystal has becomes poisoned. The whole of Thra and specifically the elf-like race the Gelflings suffer as a consequence.
Age of Resistance is a prequel to the 80s movie. In this series we see a great deal of world building. The world of Thra is relatively small with few inhabitants. There are only 16 Skeksis in total and probably no more than several hundred Gelflings. Yet, actions have terrible consequences. When an Gelfling dies their essence is returned to Thra, to start the cycle anew. But the Skeksis lack a soul, their death is definitive. After hundreds of Trime of abusing the crystal to extent their life’s they have become narcissistic. Now that the Crystal has bene corrupted and will no longer aid them the Skeksis seek other means.
The Dark Crystal Age of Resistance is a true epic
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is a sizable story so I won’t go into details. Needless to say the situation is a call to action for all the characters. This includes the Gelflings Rian (voiced by Taron Egerton), Brea and Deet (voiced by Nathalie Emmanuel). Age of Resistance looked as though it would follow a ‘hero’s journey’ type story, but I am glad too see the creative staff managed some gender bending with our heroes. Other Gelflings are voiced by Lena Headey, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Eddie Izard, Helena Bonham Carter and Alicia Vikander.
Despite the story of the Gelflings being intriguing the best parts of The Dark Crystal are the Skeksis. This avian species are in fact large suits that require multiple performers to operate. Nonetheless they have done marvelous job. The story of the Skeksis and their dark motive of obtaining immortality is considered to equate our problems with climate change. Despite being very intelligent and considerable the Skeksis too often concentrate no short-time gain. Fan favorite Skeksis such as The Emperor, The Chamberlain and The Scientist return. The latter is voiced by Mark Hamill in another superb role.
Their backstabbing and manipulative way makes their scenes feel like the best scenes of Game of Thrones, The West Wing and Yes, Minister. And yes, that means there is plenty of comedy as well. The Roles of Emperor and Chamberlain are voiced by Jason Isaacs and Simon Pegg respectively. Thus continuing the triple A cast that worked on this production.
Not all is perfect
Despite Age of Resistance being a first class series it is not without some problems. With 10 episodes ranging from 45 minutes to an hour in length it is too long. The series started out with a story to tell but half way through it became an epic. Sadly the second half is decidedly slower paced with the main characters Rian, Brea and Deet taking a lengthy detour to see urGoh The Mystic and skekGra The Conqueror. This is a fun detour that does set the story up for the final act, but a detour nonetheless.
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance feels like one of those once in a generation events. Unlike Star Wars it has not been touted up into being something it isn’t. Age of Resistance follows its own logic, despite being influenced by other great fantasy works. The story went were the production staff wanted it to go and viewers either love it or hate it.