It’s been almost three months, and I’m still digging the new Dark Crystal—which is ironic since I never watched the first one. As a kid, I felt that I was too old by the time I had even heard of the original Dark Crystal. It was released in 1982, but it didn’t enter my house until 1992, the same year my little brother was born. Of course, my parents rushed the VHS into our VCR to keep him entertained. And entertained he was—for the next seven years of my existence. Unenthusiastically, I would occasionally see puppets walking across the screen in the room I shared with my minnie-me. At times, he would run to me in fear; at others, he’d cry with laughter.
But that was 1982’s Dark Crystal. Now, with 2019’s The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, I found a free Friday night with an unused television, Netflix, and two hours before my bedtime. By hour three, I struggled not to turn on episode four. But then came Saturday morning, and with it—episode four, five, and six. By noon, I was lunching with the wife and sharing how the Skeksis are jerks. But I guess that wasn’t a welcomed topic during our teahouse date because I found myself alone again on the couch, which is where I stayed until anxiety arrived to the opening credits of the last episode. As the end came to what I felt was a great series, my real wonder emerged. Would the younger generation appreciate this series in today’s largely computer-generated entertainment world?
My lack of an answer stems from barely having children around me nowadays. The only way I could imagine them watching it is what I witnessed with my own eyes. My little brother, now 27, sat on the couch with his daughter, chuckling and gasping through episode after episode. Here’s why.
At the center of planet Thra is the Crystal of Truth, the source of all life. Aughra was once it’s overseer, but her attraction to researching the stars left the crystal in the hands of the scheming Skeksis. They have corrupted the crystal, and polluted the people of Thra with lies. What has been invoked in the world is The Darkening, which destroys everything it touches. With world ruin on the horizon, three Gelflings uncover the Skeksis dark secrets and incite a rebellion to save their world.
Sounds like a pretty classic tale if you ask most people. But since I am a skeptic at times, I asked a coworker who had seen and loved the original. He had high hopes for the new series. But that hope soon found the off button to his television once main character Rian (Taron Egerton/Neil Sterenberg) arrived on screen. My coworker’s nostalgia disappeared, replaced by anger and frustration that they did not capture the mannerisms or voice acting he remembered from the original. I felt his pain, but only from a distance because I somewhat came into this with fresh eyes.
I will be the first to admit that I am not the biggest fan of puppets. I don’t hate them; I was just the oddball who missed most of the puppet action growing up. I never really watched the Muppets or Sesame Street. So when people find out, they usually rub my back apologetically for my dull childhood. But in my opinion, my childhood was pure fire. I recall weekends of Big Trouble in Little China, Transformers, Universal Soldier, Thundercats and more. I never imagined puppets could satisfy my action needs. However, in 2019, I’m singing a different tune. By episode three of Age of Resistance, when Hup (Victor Yerrid) gets into a fist fight with the Stonewood Clan, I felt the familiar flame of excitement over a well-choreographed movie brawl. I wasn’t expecting to high five my little brother as if we were watching Rambo: Last Blood—minus the blood.
Another aspect that attracted me to the show was the unique marketing, especially in today’s time. Netflix announced the show and offered a few clips, mainly for nostalgia purposes. However, they didn’t resort to unveiling the big names voicing the characters. Even though I never watched the original, I appreciate the fact that Netflix gave a “take it or leave it” approach to the promotion of the new one. It wasn’t like, “This actress is in here, and so is this actor.” Clearly, you would attract non-viewers of the original with huge names attached to the remake. You couldn’t help but feel that if these A-listers took the time to be a part of this story, perhaps it was epic at one point and is probably worth your time. And I’m not talking one or two emerging actors, I’m talking top-level talent like Sigourney Weaver, Nathalie Emmanuel, Natalie Dormer, Mark Hamill, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Taron Egerton, Helena Bonham, Bill Hader, Benedict Wong, Keegan-Michael Key, Andy Samberg, Awkwafina, and Simon Pegg, who incredibly voices the Chamberlain. And that’s not everyone. It’s just that my fingers started to bleed from typing all these names, so I made the executive decision to move to the next paragraph.
See. Now aside from top-notch acting, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance featured top-level filmmakers. Louis Leterrier, known for hits such as The Transporter, Transporter 2, The Incredible Hulk, and Clash of the Titans, treats this series like any other serious, action-packed project. Then there is Erik Wilson, whose work ranges from the Paddington films and The Double. Furthermore, Daniel Pemberton joined the team to deliver epic music, much like his work in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, The Man from U.N.C.L.E, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. He worked alongside Samuel Sim, the composer for Anne, the television mini-series.
As I said before, I’m really feeling the new Dark Crystal. Everyone brought their A game. This includes the perfect marriage between puppetry and cg art, which I will refrain from typing more on in fear of dying of old age at my computer. Just take my word for it. There are many reasons to watch this show once, but those reasons will most likely keep you wanting to watch it again and again.
Three Months with The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance
I will be the first to admit that I am not the biggest fan of puppets. I don’t hate them; I was just the oddball who missed most of the puppet action growing up. However, in 2019, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance has me singing a different tune.