Why “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance” is exactly what I want to watch
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is worth your time. But maybe not for the reason you’d think.
This weekend I binge watched The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. I tried to get a screener, but I’m not actually that cool so the answer was a no. I’m going to wax poetic about the series (which I loved), but first I’m going to start with just why I think shows like this are great. Please note: This will not contain spoilers for the series, but might spoil some Pixar movies you should have seen years ago.
First things first. The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is a Netflix series that dropped August 30th. It is a prequel to Jim Henson’s 1982 film The Dark Crystal. I’m familiar with the film. I saw it when I was a kid on VHS and I was a fan. However, you don’t need to have seen the original film to enjoy the series. The show builds on the original mythology of the Gelfling, little elven creatures of Thra, and their evil Skeksis overlords. It also uses pretty incredible puppetry, which you’d expect from a show based on a Jim Henson film.
Why am I having all these feelings?
Know when you go see a movie and it takes you by surprise? You know the ones that I’m talking about. You know. These jerk face movies:
Oh and what about this winner?
And don’t even get me started on THIS:
Alright. I’ll stop torturing you now. But the fact is, Pixar has been a master at manipulating our emotions since they started making movies. There is something about animation that gives permission to be sentimental. We’re allowed to have feelings when we see them. Maybe someone will pretend they didn’t cry during The Notebook, but we’ll all admit we cried during Toy Story 3.
But The Dark Crystal isn’t Pixar. And it isn’t a movie.
No. The Dark Crystal is better because it’s like five movies. And Jeffrey Addiss and Will Matthews have created a visually stunning story with fantastical puppets that feel just human enough to make you empathize. They’ve done The Jim Henson Company proud. There isn’t one moment you’re watching that you don’t feel the love they’ve put into every hair on each Gelfling’s head. It’s the puppetry in The Dark Crystal that gives us permission to feel deeply.
And boy do these non human puppets give stunning performances. The puppeteers deserve even more kudos than the voice actors, whose achievements were also significant. Taking something so inanimate and imbuing it with such heart with a slight tilt of a hand isn’t just a skill. It’s an art. And once they’re matching with some incredibly fine voice acting they’re almost impossible not to watch.
So you really liked it, huh?
Oh I loved it. I’m definitely one of those people that will seek out a movie like a Pixar film when I feel like I need an emotional release. And I cried my eyes out during The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. During several episodes. Sometimes more than once an episode! Watching a non-human actor experience feelings that I myself have felt is a powerful thing. Sometimes the show asks you to make metaphorical connections to the emotions. Sometimes they’re more overt. But the mature emotional thread is constantly there.
The show touches on themes of connection to the larger world, connection to family, connection to friends, connection to heritage. I started watching it for nostalgic reasons. I kept watching it because I just needed the invest and emotional release that it provided.
I’ve not said much about the voice talents of the show. That isn’t because they weren’t phenomenal. There are so many A-listers doing their thing here that your head will spin, and I’ll make it brief by saying they’re all fantastic. (Especially Mark Hamill, who is a fantasy legend.) It’s easy to tell that the voice actors approached filming with the same gusto that everyone else in the production did. Everyone involved clearly knew they were working on something special. To say Jim Henson would be proud is an understatement.
Why are you still reading this? Go watch The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance!
This show gives you permission to feel feelings you might not even know you had. If you find yourself crying halfway through an episode and saying, “What am I doing, they’re puppets!” Know that you’re not alone! We’ll get through this together.