Jim Henson’s Classic Film Gets A Breathtaking Prequel Series on Netflix
Madison Watkins, Editor-in-Chief
“Another world, another time, in the age of wonder. A thousand years ago, this land was green and good – until the Crystal cracked…”
These were the opening words of puppet master Jim Henson’s cult classic film “The Dark Crystal.” The film opened with the Caste of the Crystal on a dark stormy landscape as we were told the land was once “green and good.”
Many fans have wondered since the film’s 1982 release how the land of Thra, where the film takes place, ended up that way.
Now 37 years later, the Jim Henson Company has released a prequel series on Netflix that begins to tell us how the villainous Skeksis destroyed the land and wiped out the humanoid race Gelfling and it is incredible.
“The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance” spends it’s 10-episode season telling us the story of three Gelfling, Rian, Deet and Brea. Though they come from separate clans and have seemingly nothing in common, they come to realize they each have a part to play in ending the Skeksis power.
At the beginning of the show, we see the Gelflings have a peaceful relationship with the Skeksis, thinking of them as their merciful rulers. They are ignorant of the Skeksis attempts to stay immortal by absorbing the power of the crystal, which in turn begins to destroy the land of Thra.
You’re kept on the edge of your seat, ready to watch the next episode as the truth begins to seep out and the gelflings debate whether or not they believe it. Even though we know how it’ll ultimately end you can’t help but keep watching to learn what happens to the lovable main characters and what the Skeksis are planning next.
What stands out the most technically during the show is of course, the puppets. Keeping true to Henson’s name, almost all of the characters are real puppets on real sets. It’s amazing to see what the puppeteers pulled off by seeing the real emotions on the characters faces and how well they fly and move around, especially during the fight scenes.
As you watch the show you can’t help but wonder how the crew built so many magnificent sets that look so real. The characters go through different environments like caves, forests, mountains and desert and almost all of it is practical.
The show is worth watching just for the puppetry and set design alone.
The cinematography is also incredible. They used a lot of shots and techniques such as extreme close-ups, slow motion and rotating the camera upside down just like you would see in a big budget live-action show.
One sequence that stuck out to me in particular was when Rian and his father try to fight off a dangerous Skeksi called The Hunter. The characters fought with swords, chased after each other and jumped from high places, all while lightning was flashing. All of this combined with some slow motion shots and a chilling musical score kept the tension high and my eyes glued to the screen.
The writers were also not afraid to hold back with the horror elements of the show. It is every bit as dark and scary as the original film. There are plenty of light-hearted moments between the characters but a lot of serious moments as well. The characters are often in danger and you get to see how they psychologically deal with those situations during and after they happen.
The show also has a top-notch voice cast including Taron Egerton, Anya Taylor-Joy, Jason Isaacs, Simon Pegg, Mark Hamill, Awkwafina and Helena Bonham Carter.
The only complaint I have with the show is before the season begins to wind down, some of the characters are placed in dangerous situations and then are conveniently saved at the last second. Once you catch on to this it can make those scenes in the middle of the season lose the dramatic tension.
If you enjoy stories about fantasy, monarchy drama, coming of age and corrupt politics, you will thoroughly enjoy this show.
If you’re a long-time fan of “The Dark Crystal” film, this show will not disappoint. It’s everything you could want from a Jim Henson property and I think he would be very proud of where his legacy has gone.
I give this show five out of five stars.