Bureau 42 Review: The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance

The Gelflings and Skesis launch a new show on Netflix.  This serves as a prequel to the movie before the genocide that rids Thra of all its Gelflings, and gives us political drama like you’d expect from Game of Thrones, except with puppetry that only Jim Henson Corp. can offer.

Title: “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance”

Creators: Jeffrey Addiss, Will Matthews

Cast:

Anya Taylor-Joy as Brea (voice)
Alice Dinnean as Brea / Maudra Fara
Dustin Demri-Burns as Daudran (voice)
Olly Taylor as Daudran / Cadia / The Scientist
April Hughes as Juni (voice)
Beccy Henderson as Juni / Deet
Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Seladon (voice)
Helena Smee as Seladon
Caitriona Balfe as Tavra (voice)
Neil Sterenberg as Tavra / Gruenak #2 / Rian / The Scroll-Keeper
Warrick Brownlow-Pike as Red-Haired Paladin / The Chamberlain / Podling Servant #1
Nathalie Emmanuel as Deet (voice)
Taron Egerton as Rian (voice)
Simon Pegg as The Chamberlain (voice)
Victor Yerrid as Hup / The Ritual Master
Harris Dickinson as Gurjin (voice)
Dave Chapman as Gurjin / Ordon
Eddie Izzard as Cadia (voice)
Toby Jones as Librarian (voice)
Kevin Clash as Librarian / Gruenak #1 / Aughra
Helena Bonham Carter Helena Bonham Carter as All-Maudra (voice)
Louise Gold as All-Maudra / Podling Servant #2 / Onica
Mark Hamill as The Scientist (voice)
Dave Goelz as Baffi (voice)
Lena Headey as Maudra Fara (voice)
Mark Strong as Ordon (voice)
Donna Kimball as Aughra (voice)
Jason Isaacs as The Emperor (voice)
Keegan-Michael Key as The Ritual Master (voice)
Natalie Dormer as Onica (voice)
Damian Farrell as Core
Katherine Smee as Core (as Kat Smee)

Premise:

Returns to the world of Thra, where three Gelfling discover the horrifying secret behind the Skeksis’ power, and set out to ignite the fires of rebellion and save their world.  (From IMDB.)

High Point:

The story is paced well, gives you enough details to be interesting without wasting time for unnecessary side plots.  There is interest in where the next episode is going, without any particular scene/thread/episode dragging.

Bonus point:  Look at that cast list!  The voice actors they have are some A list voice actors.

Low Point:

Filmed on location in the Uncanny Valley!

The Gelflings come across as oddly deformed people who look almost, but not quite, human.  There are moments where a character is clearly someone in a suit running as opposed to some variation of puppet, but those only seem to show up when you are looking for them.

Bonus point: While Donna Kimball performs wonderfully, there is no substitute for Frank Oz.

The Scores:

Originality: 3/6 We already know the story, we already know the basic characters, and there isn’t too much new, here.  That said, Thra (their world) is beautifully alien, and we get to see new places in it.

Effects: 5/6 This is the height of puppetry, yet there are still some pieces where it can’t be made perfect.

Acting: 5/6 Except for the lack of facial movements, the acting is wonderful.  The strong voice talents they recruited pays off.

Production: 6/6 Every aspect was done with the most attention to detail and care.

Story: 5/6 The story is very fleshed out, showing us the distinctions in each of the Gelflings clans as well as the differences and backstabbing in the Skesis circle.  It circles back so that when the movie’s story takes place, it will fit in nicely without being too forced.  There is also plenty of room for further stories to take place within this world without disrupting this narrative.

Emotional Response: 5/6 The fates of the characters, and of those lost, hits how they want them to hit.  It seems this was written as a reminder to anyone watching the farce that is American politics, and potentially world politics, that the real power is in the people, not the ones at the top.

Overall: 5/6 A very enjoyable show, one that is easily aimed at adults as much as for children.

In total, “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance” receives 34/42.

One reply

  1. Brian says:

    The wife and I enjoyed the show with a few issues.

    It wasn’t so much the Uncanny Valley thing (per se) that annoyed us, it was how similar each character looks. For example, the three sisters were difficult to differentiate (at first). Later episodes started introducing more diverse Gelfling and that helped.

    And The Ascendancy? When they “talked,” that was some old school Jim Henson/Brian Froud stuff right there (Helping Hands, anyone?) Very cool.

    And puppets doing puppets? That was awesome.

    It managed to skirt most of what annoys me about prequels. Admittedly, we know the Gelfling aren’t going to win in the end, but we don’t know who survives (Jen and Kira had to have parents, so some Gelfling make it). We know which of the Skeksis survive, so those characters are never in any real peril. The others, we know, are doomed. Though, they play with this a little with The General.

    I do hope they get another season. While most everything wrapped up, there were enough threads to keep my interest.

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