Netflix recently released prequel series
EDITOR'S NOTE: Locals Cole Schneider and Matt Greene share their different takes on new movies out in area theaters. This week, they are reviewing the 1982 Jim Henson movie "The Dark Crystal," which inspired Netflix's recently released prequel series, "The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance." For podcasts and more, visit MovietownMovieClub.com.
Matt: Puppets prop up 'The Dark Crystal'
"Dark Crystal" is a fantastic background movie. That probably sounds like (and is meant as) a bit of a back-handed compliment. Visually, it's a marvel. The puppet-work is not only impressively seamless, but just plain cool. The gelflings, skeksis mystics, and their world are imaginative creations, filling the screen with imposing fantasy brilliance. The story, however, is … well, another story. Slow, familiar, and much too dense, I found myself having to reference the Henson-Wiki to keep up. Sure, I’m not that bright … but neither are the children this is aimed at.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, a young gelfling is given the task to repair a magical crystal in order to restore balance to his world. Much like "Star Wars," or any number of other fantasy films, it's a common hero's journey tale, with so much backstory and universe explaining it can easily get bogged down in convoluted exposition. Where those other stories are given longer runtimes or multiple movies to breathe, "Dark Crystal" tries to shove a bunch of stuff into a condense package of 90 minutes, making it hard to decipher. Nonetheless, the natural creepiness and complex lore are noble, and once understood, really work well.
But what really keeps this movie from being a near-disaster is the puppet creations themselves. Henson and co.'s ability to give believable life to his felted friends can't be overstated. All these Muppet productions really serve to prove the emotive power and reality of puppets in the film medium. Why we don’t utilize them more in modern times is beyond me, so getting to revisit these early films is worth the wading through overly complicated storytelling to enjoy.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Cole: 'The Dark Crystal' not a good sign
With a new Netflix prequel coming out it's time to revisit "The Dark Crystal," a cult classic known predominantly for Jim Henson's hand-crafted world and creatures, and to be sure, the technical skill on display in the movie is immaculate. But what is it in service to? The story is as slow and bland as I've ever seen and doesn't amount to anything. What's more, that immaculate design that it's so famous for looks old and ugly, shades of brown dominating the screen at all times for an effect that is more gross than engrossing.
It's supposed to be an adventure tale on in another world and another time following a young Gelfling who embarks on a quest to find a missing shard of magical crystal that can restore order to his world and rid it of the evil Skeksis race. It's cookie cutter '80s fantasy that manages to be even more boring than that simple description. It's only 93 minutes and yet it's a real struggle to sit through.
I can understand people being infatuated with the design and maybe that alone is enough to warrant watching the new show. I can also understand someone who liked the movie as a kid, and the nostalgic pull will bring them to the show, but I feel sorry for that person if it ends up being like the movie. "The Dark Crystal" prequel is coming to Netflix and maybe it’ll be great, I don't know. And I won’t know because I won't be watching.
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars