Netflix releases a prequel to the 80’s classic, “The Dark Crystal”
In 1982, Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets, released “The Dark Crystal”, a dark fantasy world where an evil race of bird-lizards called Skeksis drain the life of the planet, but the only one to survive it was a Gelfling that must reunite the last piece of the Crystal of Truth back together again or else the Skeksis will rule the world. The initial reviews of the time were mixed, but over the years, it became a cult-classic.
“Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance” is a prequel series for the movie, exploring the world of Thra, the setting of “The Dark Crystal,” and how the story leads to the movie’s end.
Note that I will put minor spoilers of the plot in the review, but nothing too detail in case you want to watch it. In addition, I suggest you watch the movie first and then the series second as it gives the context for the Skeksis in the prequel series.
The series has ten one-hour episodes, each telling multiple stories at once, almost Game of Thrones-esque. The main group of stories are: Rian (Ree-an), a stonewood gelfling guard of the Crystal Palace trying to prove himself; Brea (Like the cheese), a vapran gelfling princess wanting to learn everything she could; Deet, a grotten gelfling who must stop an evil power from spreading across Thra; Mother Aughra (Aug-gra), the “god” of Thra who must reconnect with Thra to help stop the harm the Skeksis are doing to it; and skekSil or Chamberlain, who wants to retake his position with the Emperor Skeksis.
Rian’s story is about proving himself. In the beginning he was arrogant, prideful and trying to prove himself to his father; however, losing his lover to the Skeksis caused him to rebel against their rule. He runs from the Crystal Palace and slowly builds a resistance against the birds with the seven clans of gelfling.
Brea’s story is about her learning the truth as well as her family relationship. Her mother is the queen of all gelfling, the All-Maudra, and she somewhat spoils Brea, giving her many books and ignoring royal duties. On the other hand,her sisters, mainly the second one, Seladon, grow with jealousy from the one-sided affection towards Brea. Her story sees the family split, only to come together near the end when their older sister, Tavra, sacrifices herself to save them from the Skeksis.
Deet’s story is the simplest one to understand. She was sent by her clan to unite the gelfling to stop the darkness from taking Thra. She is a fish-out-of-water since most of the clans she meets disregard her because of her clan; however, she was able to unite them with the help of Rian and found her answer to stop the darkness, but with a cost.
Mother Aughra’s arc is a redemption arc. The Skeksis gave her a device to let her see the stars, and in exchange, she gave them the Crystal of Truth, to protect, but she was fooled. Awakened by Thra in distress, she seeks to hear it’s song to help fix what she did.
Chamberlain, one of the Skeksis who rule Thra, is that of deceiving and lying his way to power. He’s always scheming and plotting in the background, trying to win the graces of his emperor. His actions eventually lead to what transpired in the movie.
The overall quality of the series is gorgeous with vibrant colors across the landscape the group travel. The soundtrack is elegant and foreboding with our cast of characters. Lastly, the character designs are fantastic. Even though majority of the creatures and characters are puppets, their range of emotion and movement make them feel alive, better than most SFX can offer. Every gelfling feels unique with its own design and look; every creature feels cute and mysterious; and the Skeksis gives us some continuity with most of the suits are nearly identical to the 1982 version with more color to them.
Overall I highly recommend this series. Be it for the story, the world, the design or Game of Thrones ambience, we all have a duty to light the fires of resistance.
~Felix Phommachanh, Staff Writer~