Just before the summer's over, Netflix has brought us a bit of action, adventure, and some unsettling puppet creatures. The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance just hit Netflix and it's bringing back the lore-heavy fantasy adventure sagas we grew up watching, but this time with a major glow up. It's come a long way since the quintessential style of puppetry and indie adventures of the '80s. The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance now more closely resembles the artistically intricate universe of Avatar than The Neverending Story.
The 10-episode series introduces (or reintroduces if you were a fan of the original) viewers to the world of Thra, a mythical landscape that has been ruled by the Skeksis, the nightmare-inducing, reptilian-birdlike creatures for hundreds of years. They use the dark crystal to keep themselves young and therefore in power forever. When three Gelfling, Rian, Brea, and Deet, who are voiced by Taron Egerton, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Nathalie Emmanuel, respectively, discover the secret behind their power, they set out to incite a rebellion to save their world. Unless they find the dark crystal and steal its power back from the Skeksis, their world as they know it will face "the darkening," an infection in the crystal threatening to spread, and change forever.
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance starts off in the years before the original Jim Henson movie. Henson, whose name you might recognise from such franchises as the Muppets, Star Wars, and the cult classic Labyrinth (no big deal), made The Dark Crystal in 1982 using largely puppetry and old fashioned movie magic. Nowadays, most special effects are done with CGI (computer-generated imagery) using green screens and some of the most high-powered computers you can find. When the original Dark Crystal came out, the movie industry had nowhere near the technology we do today to make the rich fantasy worlds in their minds come to life. They had to rely on much more basic effects and elaborate set design. According to the press release from the Jim Henson Production Company, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance still relies heavily on puppetry to make Henson's vision of the film come to life.
To this day, the original Dark Crystal remains one of the highest grossing puppet animated films of all time. Given Henson's notoriety as a filmmaker, it's no wonder how he got big names like Helena Bonham-Carter, Mark Hamill, Keegan-Michael Key, Andy Samberg, Theo James, and Simon Pegg on board to lend their voices to the film.
The original film's plot revolves around one Gelfling, Jen, who must restore balance to their world by returning a lost piece of the dark crystal. The crystal is meant to keep their world in perfect balance. That is, when it's not being misused by the Skeksis as their own personal fountain of youth. The prequel is ambiguous on exactly how many years the events happen before the original, but the graphic novels released after The Dark Crystal delve more into the lore and universe of the series. Given the backstory explored in the graphic novels, it is likely that the prequel occurs sometime within 200 years before the original. It was around that time that the Skeksis began sacrificing Gelflings and another species known as Podlings to the crystal in order to obtain their life essence. Jen reuniting the lost piece, the shard, to the dark crystal was reportedly foretold as a prophecy.
You might already know how it ends, but thanks to Netflix you can see how it all began.