To me, the Dark Crystal is a movie from the eighties that I really loved. It had a cool story, with adventure, mysticism, and romance. Now there’s a prequel television show from Netflix.
The Dark Crystal
To understand the Age of Resistance, or at least, this review, you have to know a little about the Dark Crystal movie.
Once upon a time in the eighties, Jim Henson — from the muppet show– teamed up with Frank Oz and David Odell to create a dark fairy tale movie with puppets. That movie became the Dark Crystal.
Thra is a world that knows no humans. Instead, fairy-like creatures called Gelfling inhabit it. The story starts with the Great Conjunction, when the three suns of Thra align. This events led to the shattering of the so-called Crystal of Truth and the appearance of the Skeksis, a race of evil bird-like creatures. A thousand years later, another conjunction approaches, and another group of strange creatures called Mystics tell Jen — a young Gelfling — to set out and save the world by restoring the crystal.
The Age of Resistance
In 2017 Netflix announced they were creating a prequel to the movie: the Age of Resistance. This television show takes place long before the movie. The Skeksis rule the Gelflings like gods, and the Gelfling think they are wise and good. The Skeksis are anything but, and are slowly wittering away . They seek a way to cheat death.
The series follows three Gelfling who all have a role to play in the unfolding tale. Rian, a guard in the Skeksis castle learns of the evil of his gods. Deet, a member of the Gelfling clan living underground, learns of a sickness that is affecting the world. Finally, Brea, youngest daughter of the Gelfling leader, the All-Maudra, follows a mysterious symbol she finds in the royal library.
Puppets and Game of Thrones
The Dark Crystal movie had some masterful imagery and went to the limits of what you can do with puppets. The series tries to follow in its footsteps and succeeds remarkably at this. Unfortunately, it also copies all the cool things from the movie, ad nauseam.
You know how cool the jungles in the original movie are? Filled with undulating fantasy plants and hordes of tiny puppet animals. It’s there in the series. Every other episode. The Skeksis are pretty disgusting and infight a lot in the movie. They do so every episode of the series. Maybe I’ve just seen the movie too often, but it made me sigh after a while.
Where the series differs from the movie is the intrigue. The writers have clearly taken a good look at Game of Thrones and thought: we need some of that. That isn’t a bad thing for a lot of people, but I’ve grown to hate the Game-of-Thrones gimmick.
You see, Game of Thrones is based on a very simple trick. Make the story appear to head to a positive outcome. Then, when things are about to resolve, have one of the characters do something unexpectedly evil or stupid that gets some other character horribly killed, or worse. Then repeat this trick over and over again.
When I first read Game of Thrones — the book — back in 1997, I thought it was awesome because it was so unexpected. A decade later, seeing it for the gazillionth time in Age of Resistance, it has become a trick. Something you can see from a mile away and that drowns out meaningful character development in favor of a miasma of dread for who’s going to get axed next.
I loved the Dark Crystal movie in the eighties. It has a special place in my heart along with Labyrinth, the Neverending Story, and Star Wars. That means Age of Resistance has built-in allure for me.
On the other hand I have very mixed feelings about Game of Thrones. Those parts of Age of Resistance are not that good.
So, can I recommend this show? Yeah, I guess I will, if you like fantasy. If you haven’t seen the movie, then there’s a lot of cool stuff for you to see. If you have, and it has a special place in your heart, go watch Age of Resistance as well, if only for nostalgia’s sake.