Jim Henson‘s original 1982 film, The Dark Crystal, has since garnered a large cult following with many people loving the intricate puppeteering and epic fantasy adventure. Now, 37 years later, The Dark Crystal returns in the form of a ten-episode Netflix series that promises to be a fantasy epic you don’t want to miss.
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance takes place on Thra where the Gelfling begin to uncover the secrets behind the Skeksis’ evil intentions, and unite to spark a rebellion that will hopefully save their world.
The series kicks off with the intention of welcoming fans, both new and old, to the world of The Dark Crystal. It introduces the new set of characters, new stakes, the state of the world and the journey many of the characters will embark on. It’s very quick to set things up and jump right into moving forward with the story. But it isn’t quite the fantasy epic it promises to be right off the bat. It takes a few episodes to really get into the story and the characters. Being a fantasy series there are a lot of new (made up) words, a tonne of characters all on their own paths and a lot of lore and history to explain. To put it simply, it’s a lot of information dropped on you in the first couple of episodes, so it takes about 3 episodes to really start getting engaged in these characters’ lives. Also, as a more personal gripe, it took me an episode or two to get used to the idea of watching puppets.
Once that fourth episode hits it really picks up the pace, the tension is heightened, you know all the character names and the journeys they’re on, and that ‘fantasy epic’ feel starts to really come through. The storytelling from here on out is very bold, brave and not afraid to take risks. It definitely doesn’t play it safe and really embraces the ‘dark’ in the title. Despite it being puppets, it’s absolutely not for younger kids as it continuously embraces a lot of serious adult storytelling. Each episode is littered with twists and turns, many you won’t see coming and it successfully keeps you on your toes. From episode four right through to the end of episode 10, I was hooked at all times as the story continues to ramp up to a big and fulfilling finale.
It’s rare nowadays that a show takes initiative to make its characters, specifically its heroes, vulnerable. Too often you know exactly who is safe and it takes any tension out of the film or series. The Dark Crystal makes it known that you can never be too certain when you may never see a certain character again. That being said, all of the characters in here are intriguing in their own way, both on the good and bad side. You have characters as complex as Rian (Taron Egerton) who you know a lot about and therefore care about them, then you have a character like Hup (Victor Yerrid) who barely speaks but is so pure you can’t help but root for him.
Then you have the voice performances behind the puppets which are all fantastic, and most of which are from an extensive list of A-list actors. I already mentioned Taron Egerton (Rian), but you also have the likes of Nathalie Emmanuel (Deet), Anya Taylor-Joy (Brea), Simon Pegg (The Chamberlain), Keegan-Michael Key (The Ritual Master), Jason Isaacs (The Emperor), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Seladon), Mark Hamill (The Scientist), Ralph Ineson (The Hunter), Lena Headey (Maudra Fara) and Awkwafina (The Collector). That’s already an impressive list, and it goes on. Some voices you can pinpoint in a heartbeat, but others mask themselves and transform into their characters so well you may not realise until you hear them speak a few times. Their performances help bring out the characters’ personalities and sell the emotion of what they’re going through.
The puppeteering work executed here is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. These puppets are so elaborate that it doesn’t take long to forget you’re watching puppets interact. The large-scale sets and life-size puppets makes the whole thing seem so magical and it all fits right in with the fantasy feel. Even the action sequences are pulled off in a way to where they actually look cool and are fun to watch, something that could have been disastrous with the use of puppets. The world building here is great and for someone who is making their first leap into the world of Thra, it’s an intriguing universe I would love to see more of. That’s a very important thing in any fantasy series, building an intriguing world that fans would want to explore more in depth. The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance does that impeccably.
In the end, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is certainly not for everyone as the use of puppets and even the fantasy genre will turn off a number of people. But for fans of the genre, not only fans of the 1982 film, there is a lot to love about this series including its intricate storytelling, intriguing characters and talented voice cast. It ends on such a strong note that any continuation of this series would be amazing, just to see what else they can pull off.