REVIEW: ’The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance’

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The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance

Return to the land of Thra once more, and be prepared to meet a whole new enthralling cast of characters in Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal: Age of ResistanceDirected by Louis Leterrier, the show is a prequel series to the 1982 cult classic The Dark Crystal created and directed by the enigmatic Jim Henson and Frank Oz.

Thra is a living planet connected to each of its many inhabitants. Chief amongst those are the Gelfling race, followed rather humorously by the Podlings. In the prequel telling of the story, the Gelflings and the Skeksis live in peace and harmony. It’s an unsettling thought for any fan of the original movie, but it’s also immediately captivating. The Skeksis are the lords of the Crystal of Truth, but over time have corrupted it as they seek to cheat death by subverting its power. The Skeksis will push their scientist into dangerous waters to achieve results. Time is of the essence.

This property deeply impacted my youth. It was my first sojourn into a deep fantasy-ridden world that opened up my imagination. When faced with the prospect of watching a prequel version of this story I’ve held so dear over the years, I was naturally cautious. How often do these adaptations or sequels live up to childhood nostalgia? Thus, this next statement I make, I do so knowing things don’t always work out so well for the new property. Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance sings a beautiful song that has captured my inner child once more.

The plot of the story encapsulated a lot of the same major themes that were so meticulously woven into the original film. Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, however, seeks to elevate your perception of the original world and expand it beyond your imagination. The show introduces you to new creatures, new lands, and a whole host of new characters, but it doesn’t stop there. The creators around the show have also sought to embrace and reinforce the knowledge around characters from the original adaptation.

One such example of this is the background storytelling of the seven clans of the Gelfling: the Vapra, the Stonewood, the Grottan, the Sifa, the Spriton, the Dousan, and the Drenchen. Not only do the Gelfling characters get more screen time, but so too do the Podlings. One Podling, Hup, particularly stole my eye, and every scene he’s in, as the want-to-be little paladin lept into action without caution for his own life. He is a breath of fresh air and instantly injects humor into the story to allow it to breath in-between scenes of dark happenings. Not all is happy; however, because as in life, so in Thra. Where there is an expansion for good, there is also an expansion for evil. For fans of the Skeksis, prepare yourselves for to get well acquainted with some of the original Lords of the Crystal, as well as some newer characters.

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance

It’s rather unsettling to watch this show as a fan of the prior works. To see the Gelfling and Skeksis stand side by side is highly alarming given the atrocities they will commit in the future, but that’s what is so engrossing about the story. As an audience, we are privy to the events of the darkening and witnessing how it all went so wrong. This long-form version of the story allows the audience to bond more closely with the characters, so upon the inevitable moments of grief, it lands with much greater severity. I’d make a comparison to Rogue One here. A lot of us know the inevitable ending; however, it’s the journey and the emotions we felt during it that leave such a lasting impression.

The episodes continue to ascend in quality with the assistance of the score for the show and the FX employed, without also forgetting the mastery of the puppetry. During the show, we visit the mountains of the Ha’rar, the Crystal deserts, and caves which the Grottan call home. The cinematography, the graphics, the puppetry, and score all work harmoniously to adapt this series into something genuinely independent while also paying beautiful homage to the creation of Jim Henson. The creativity in which the shots are captured is so ambitious in nature, it just further adds to the spectacle. The marriage of practical effects and CGI is in perfect balance, as can be seen throughout the show. It’s one of the reasons the show has such a following is because this is a world that visually looks like it can be visited.

One particular element worthy of note is fear. Jim Henson believed a healthy dose of fear was good for younger viewers to experience so that they could come to learn to deal with it head-on, much like Jen does in the original The Dark Crystal. The Netflix original has honored that, and then some. There are some visually frightening sequences in episode four, as you witness a Skeksis fight, run, and scale trees like a reptile during a particularly nasty storm. This scene was truly stunning and it lands in the most horrific way. It’s a clip I never knew I wanted to see, but upon witnessing it, I knew the show’s creators had captured it perfectly.

The characters of the show would be nothing without its voice cast, and Age of Resistance has audio talent by the boatload featuring such voices as Taron Egerton (Rian), Nathalie Emmanuel (Deet), Anya Taylor-Joy (Brea), as well as Simon Pegg, Mark Hamill, Helena Bonham Carter, Jason Isaacs, Benedict Wong, Keegan-Michael Key, Mark Strong, and Natalie Dormer. The introduction alone is voiced by Sigourney Weaver. The talent within this show is off the charts.

I emphatically adore this show. I urge you to watch it, even if you’ve not seen the original. If you’re a fan of fantasy, character development, and a classic tale of good vs. evil, there is something here for you.

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is available exclusively on Netflix now.


The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance
  • 10/10
    Rating - 10/10
10/10

TL;DR

I emphatically adore this show. I urge you to watch it, even if you’ve not seen the original. If you’re a fan of fantasy, character development, and a classic tale of good vs. evil, there is something here for you.

2 Comments on “REVIEW: ’The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance’”

  1. I tried the first episode and while it captured the look of a lot of the movie, I didn’t feel the characters much at all and so haven’t gone back to it. I’m never overly big on prequels in the first place so despite my love of the movie I don’t think this one is going to be one I prioritise getting back to.

    1. I highly recommend sticking with it until ep 4!! It gets really good. If by Ep4 you’re not into it, then that’s cool.

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