Pros: large fantasy universe; more developed characters (compared to the film); voice acting by famous actors; touching moments with minor creatures Cons: there are unpleasant episodes that should not be shown to small children; inconsistencies with the 1982 film The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance
Creators: Geoffrey Addiss, Will Matthews, Louis Leterrier
Cast: Taron Egerton (Rian), Helena Bonham Carter (Madra Meyrin), Anya Taylor-Joy (Brea), Nathalie Emmanuel (Deet), Lena Headey (Madra Farah), Harris Dickinson (Gurjin), Alicia Vikander (Mira), Eddie Izzard (Kedia) et al.
Year of release 2019
It all started with the film “The Dark Crystal”, which was released in 1982 by puppeteer director Jim Henson. By this time, he was already known as the creator of the Muppet dolls – the heroes of the comedy television show. Henson, who devoted several years to the entertainment project, presented the public with a completely new work in the fantasy genre. “The Dark Crystal” introduced viewers to a planet called Thra, where representatives of the ferocious Skeksis race seized power. Only a person from the Gelfling race, who was destined to fulfill the prophecy, could stop them.
The film was different from other fantasy stories. It became one of the first full-length films in which no actors were involved: all actions on the set were performed by puppeteers who did not appear in the frame. Outlandish dolls with a repulsive appearance and a dark story with an encouraging ending – the combination of these elements in the movie found fans around the world.
Even during the filming of The Dark Crystal, Jim Henson was planning to release a sequel to the film. This never happened; Henson died in 1990, and his ideas for a sequel were published in comic book format. But the publication alone did not end anything: Netflix representatives drew attention to director Louis Leterrier, who for many years tried to find support for the film adaptation of the backstory of The Dark Crystal. They hired writers and, with the support of The Jim Henson Company, launched a ten-episode prequel. Thanks to new technology and the team of famous actors that Netflix brought in to voice the characters, the Muppet series has a chance to attract even those audiences for whom the old film was too repulsive.
The series again shows the planet Thra, in the center of which there is a crystal – the source of all life. Seven clans have lived there in complete harmony for thousands of years. One day, evil Skeksis creatures appear on Thra, declaring themselves lords of the planet and protectors of the crystal. Representatives of the clans believe their lies, begin to quarrel with each other and even serve strangers. This continues until one guard from the Gelfling race learns about the real intentions of the Skeksis.
“The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance” is a story in which at first you can get confused due to the abundance of wonderful characters. But by the end of the first episode, the essence becomes clear, as do the characters of the main characters. Gelflings, constantly flashing on the screen, differ from each other in temperament and manner of movement. They, as representatives of a large race, acquire individuality, revealing themselves from different sides (which was not in the film). The writers highlight romantic lines for them, describe internal conflicts and give them strong motivation.
Familiar characters from the film appear in the series. And as good as this will be for fans of The Dark Crystal, the old heroes are somewhat different from their future versions. For example, the oracle named Okra in the series becomes a strong leader, but in the film she is somewhat grumpy and not so inspired by great goals.
The Skeksis, who were also in 1982’s The Dark Crystal, are still unpleasant to look at. Although, admittedly, modern puppet versions of evil characters are a little improved. There are still too many episodes with them, and over the period of ten episodes you get pretty tired of the sharp-beaked scoundrels. In addition, the Skeksis, in confirmation of their dark nature, have a number of favorite tortures to which they subject weaker creatures (which is not entirely intended for a child audience).
True, the dolls of other characters are more likely to evoke interest than disgust. A large team worked on the series, using a 3D printer to produce 170 figures, hand-detailed by designers. The characters on the set were controlled by more than 80 puppeteers, who were responsible for the movements and facial expressions of the characters. There was also computer graphics, thanks to which the planet Thra received many breathtaking landscapes.
And, of course, the actors who agreed to lend their voices to the characters attracted a lot of attention to the series. Sigourney Weaver served as narrator, and Taron Egerton voiced the main Gelfling. Helena Bonham Carter, Lena Headey, Alicia Vikander and many other artists also worked on the voice acting for the series.
After its release, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance was compared to The Lord of the Rings, Avatar, Star Wars and even Game of Thrones. To be honest, such comparisons are exaggerated, although the story does have scale and meaning. The series is unique in its production technique, because of which you can turn a blind eye to the imperfections of some of the storylines. In addition, minor creatures endowed with touching appearance and funny habits evoke sympathy in him.
However, after watching the series “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance,” one is left with the strange impression that dolls still cannot replace live or even animated characters.
Thanks to new technologies, it is not always possible to recognize dolls in the characters, and yet the result turned out to be specific. The mixed impression of what is happening does not prevent you from delving into the plot of the series, but not everyone will like it