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In defiance of every obstacle you could throw in front of it, Netflix and The Jim Henson Company‘s The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance prequel series is one of the most incredible things to film or TV in 2019. It’s a marvel of production design, a miracle of technical filmmaking, a triumph of tone-blurring, genre-defying dark fantasy storytelling, and maybe the best “nostalgia revival” work Generation X has yet been gifted. To the degree that anything can be, it’s as close to perfect as something like this can get.

This is The Big Picture with Bob Chipman, talking about The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance.

Bob Chipman
Bob Chipman is a critic and author.

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    1. And to anyone wondering, no you do not have to have seen the original movie to enjoy the prequel. The opening does a great job of setting up the world and events leading into where the story begins.

      I’ve seen the movie once and it was at least a decade ago, maybe even two, and I lost nothing by watching this series without remembering barely anything from the movie.

      1. I saw the show first without having seen the movie. Now that I have seen the movie, I would honestly recommend people watch the prequel first anyway

      2. It also does a good job of having fun with its villains and giving them a greater bit of dimension, without ever letting you forget they’re evil as sin and not sympathetic at all. They’re more understandable, their motivations are better developed and they clearly have some softer elements, they are still not good people. Giving the Scientist SkekTek some greater affection for his little pets he keeps locked up in his lab, gives him a nice bit of character, but he’s still an evil mad scientist and his last major act in the final episode more or less cements that.

        The Emperor is the best example in my mind though. We finally get to see what his deal was, after all we got from the movie was, well, him turning into literal dust mere seconds after meeting him. Here we get a greater reasoning as to why he’s in charge, what his goals are and even a better look into why he does what he does. It’s not all just for evil’s sake, although a lot of it is, but his motivations reveal how truly pitiful and short-sighted the Skeksis are, how their own selfishness is self-defeating and self-destructive.

        It’s nothing complicated, but they’re proof that a villain does not have to consider themselves a hero of their own story or be sympathetic in order to be interesting. Like Bill Cypher, the Anti-Monitor, Darkseid, and Freddy Kruger, you can be a horrible, disgusting, irreprehensible monster and still be damn entertaining to watch.

        1. “his motivations reveal hos truly pitiful and short-sighted the Skeksis
          are, how their own selfishness is self-defeating and self-destructive.”
          Splended metaphor for capitalism!

        2. I loved how they’re obsessed with immortality to a self-destructive degree, but only the Chamberlain has the foresight to plan farther ahead than tomorrow. They know exactly how stupid their indulgences are and don’t care.

        3. Well, it’s not like they can be anything but, since they are the shit half of the star children guys.

          Dark Crystal’s biggest sins is that aspect of the scenario is pretty contrived, and times when things happen too conveniently, chalked up to a clockwork universe that can’t do anything but realize its prophecy. It’s times when the short running length works against it… whereas most of the time that brevity is the soul of its wit.

    2. Rock on

    3. Here’s a quick question for Bob: Do you think it would be better, for someone whose never seen the original yet, to watch the series then the original or vice versa? Aka watch it chronologically or by release date.

      1. I saw the film first.

      2. I saw the show before watching the movie last week. I think I enjoyed the show more specifically because I hadn’t seen the movie yet and didn’t know who lived and who died. I was more invested not having any idea what the conclusion was beyond vaguely knowing that is was a prequel so some of these storylines won’t be resolved until the movies.

        1. As a fan of the movie, I was hoping that there would be more tragedy in the show, but I am glad that I got an epic with *some* tragic overtones. I am hoping for more out of the show, even though I know what the end result will be.

      3. There is one fairly major spoiler for the movie if you watch the show first, but you’ll probably work it out five minutes in anyway watching as an adult.

        The twist blew my mind when I was six, though.

        1. I think the moment you are talking about still works dramatically whether you know that information or not. I watched the movie already knowing all the backstory from the show and I didn’t feel like a gotcha moment had been lost. Especially if you are talking about the origin of the Skeksis and Mystics, which has to be pretty obvious after you see what happens after X dies

          1. That’s the one.

      4. It would definitely give a different experience; better or worse is hard to tell since the series is not done yet.

    4. Netflix has no money they had investors money which they spent and now lots of debt. So before the go bust they are basically funding all the shows they wanted when they where kids.

      1. With the vast, VAST library of original series and movies they have, with some cheap-lookin production values, they seem to be paying for QUANTITY over QUALITY. But this Dark Crystal prequel just torpedoed that theory.

    5. You got the movies backwards. Dark Crystal was the financial success, Labyrinth was the failure.

      1. Really? In my country, everyone grew up with Labyrinth, but no one knows Dark Crystal.

        1. You could have looked up the numbers yourself in less time than it took to post that reply.

        2. It probably depends on television spots. Labyrinth is more of a show for teenagers… and dare I say girls. It’s much better than Dark Crystal, but I think young kids latched harder onto Dark Crystal for it all around weirdness, puppetry, and the roadkill-like Skeksis.

    6. I wonder how many people first found out about this and The Dark Crystal in general from that E3 trailer for a Fire Emblem-esque tie-in game.

      1. I saw lots of trailers for this going back a year, but this comment is the first I heard about the game.

    7. While you are right that the dark crystal had a mixed critical and audience reaction, I recall the movie not actually doing that bad in terms of money. It still made back it’s budget and was still profitable. It was Labyrinth that was the total bomb.

    8. That’s one more “MUST SEE” streaming series to add to my constantly growing back log. And we just got Amazon Prime connected to the TV at my house so we can finally watch “Man In The High Castle”.
      So, Bob, next month is Schlocktober, and with your twice weekly schedule now, you’re sure to go over a lot. If you’re looking for ideas, may I suggest Italian horror movies? I discovered some on the Web, and they’re basically porn.

    9. I’m kind of mixed about this. We know going in that most/all the characters we like are going to die which is sad. But it also means that anything can happen.

    10. I knew you would love it bob!

      Also there is a lot of lore that was expanded upon.

    11. I’ve got the anniversary Blu-rays of Dark Crystal and Labyrinth on my shelf. Might be a good time to use the weekend to get reacquainted with Jim Henson’s work outside of the Muppets.

    12. I personally think Age of Resistance is even better than the original movie. It has the same jaw-dropping puppetry and set design, but the dialogue is less stilted and unnatural, and the overall allegory to the story is more readily apparent.
      It’s a damn fine show, and hearing that Lisa Henson wants to do more seasons makes me excited for where it might go next if it does indeed continue from here.

    13. I’ll give it another shot, but I got 20 minutes into and bailed. The storytelling was amateurish, the female characters were indistinguishable, the dialogue was often groan-worthy. Pity, I was really excited about it.

      1. The first 30 minutes is the worst part of the entire series.

        1. Okay, well fire Chad then.

    14. I know it’s very likely really good but I just 0 interest in the aesthetic of the creatures and the world. I’m a massive fantasy fan but it’s doing nothing for me personally. Shame.

    15. The thing about the original Dark Crystal movie is that it is as unforgettable to look at as it is boring to watch. The lack of story and the incredibly archetypal characters means that the story meat is too thin even for an arch fantasy story like this. I’m glad to hear this was good though. I always wanted to like Dark Crystal. I just couldn’t really.

      1. It’s not really narrative. It’s like a nature documentary married with artistic juxtapositions of arch themes and archetypes. It’s made for/by artsy folks. I think Jim wanted to make something less commercial, for himself, and realized he could, so did.

    16. “Ah shit. Am I the Krillin?”

      Okay, this got a good laugh out of me.And hey, there are a lot worse things than being the Krillin. Like being the Yamcha.

      1. At least they try to do stuff. Better than the Yajirobi, or whatever that fat guy’s name is.

        1. Hey, Yajirobe once carried a mortally-wounded Goku on his back up Korin’s tower. He’s also the guy who cut off Vegeta’s tail. Yes, he’s a coward, but he’s a surprisingly useful coward sometimes.

      2. Yeah, you’ve got to admit that Krillin did more than practically all the other human characters in DBZ.

      3. I do not know what this Yamcha is. But it sounds disappointing.

      4. Hey now, things work out pretty well for the Krillin in the end.

    17. Being Krillin isn’t so bad. you get a hot wife out of the deal.

      1. Yeah, at least if you’re the Krillin you’re not the Tien. Works 10 times harder than the Krillin, and has NOTHING to show for it.

    18. I’ve got a couple of guesses, but which “comeuppance” do we think Bob is talking about?

      1. I think it’s when Celedon is humiliated by the Skeksis

    19. I felt this series was missing an intellectual core. But on the plus side, watching it for 10 or 20mins got me to rewatch Dark Crystal. I think if there is not a mind of a sensitive genius behind a work of art it won’t hold up over time. I found this series devoid of any such animating spirit.

      Plus, I don’t understand why it’s trying to be so identical to the original. It has nothing to say of its own. The banner on the video isn’t a banner for a new series but The Dark Crystal.

    20. Man can you slow down? Because I can’t hear you over all the nerdgasm

    21. So I saw the original film as a kid, liked it but don’t remember heaps about it. Should I rewatch it before seeing the series or is it pretty stand-alone?

    22. Absolutely fantastic in just about every way. The series was a dream come true and so much more!

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