Netflix’s highly-anticipated The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is so much more than Jim Henson fantasy nostalgia. It doesn’t remake the original story, but rather it enters Henson’s beautiful fantasy world and builds on it.
The most obvious and remarkable success of the series is the cinematography. Netflix’s vision of Thra leans on puppetry, but utilizes CGI when necessary. The result is a stunning aesthetic that lifts you out of the human world and into a magical world where the pixie-like Gelflings and monstrous birdlike Skeksis roam. The puppet-only space pays homage to Henson while creating a series unlike any other on television right now.
The story the series tells is a prequel to Henson’s 1982 film. Although the story is different, the tone of the series stays true to the original. When Deet reveals her prophetic dreams to her eccentric aunt, she cackles “you can’t argue with trees!” Among the plot-driven adventures of the Gelflings is a special type of humor unique to the puppet world of Thra.
At the heart of the story is a fantastical hierarchal structure – a story as old as time. The power-hungry Skesis are willing to let the creatures of Thra suffer so that they can harness the Dark Crystal’s power to become immortal. They take from the poorest Gelflings and treat the harmless Podlings cruelly. The young Gelflings who learn the truth of the Skesis are then faced with the seemingly impossible battle of making others believe what they have seen. They hope to overthrow the evil creatures at the top of the hierarchy but this is easier said than done.
The cast are also due credit for their vocal performances. The puppet faces of the creatures of Thra prevent their emotions from being clearly displayed. Their pain and joy must, therefore, be expressed by the voices. Nathalie Emmanuel, who had a disappointing exit in Game of Thrones, shows off her talent as Deet. Taron Egerton also gives a notable performance and Eddie Izzard is wonderful as a scheming Skeksis.
Overall, any fans of The Dark Crystal who feared for Thra in the Netflix series can breathe a sigh of relief. The prequel does not remake or reimagine the original, but rather pays homage to it. Each episode is saturated with the charm of Jim Henson’s pride and joy while successfully developing the characters and their stories further than he ever did.