The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Review
Game of Thrones for Ten-Year Olds
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance has been released. The new Netflix show, which serves as a prequel to the 1982 Jim Henson film The Dark Crystal, is a triumph of puppetry effects and voice acting. It is also incredibly awesome. And to call it Game of Thrones for ten-year olds would not be too much of an inaccurate descriptor, but let me be clear, this show does not feature sex, now violence, it has that in droves.
I mean it; I was not expecting to see even half of the imagery that this show presented its audience with. Age of Resistance is not shy about showing blood, or getting a few jabs in there at the point of a sword. And that is hardly even the tip of the iceberg, especially not when you consider being drained of essence, mind-controlled by spiders, dissolving into dust, suppurating pustules and a number of other grisly things.
However, despite the thrills and the occasional chill, this show also has a lot of high-riding emotion. The show follows Henson’s initial credo, that it is unhealthy for a child not to be scared, to the letter and if that should also involve watching a fantasy creature being brained to death, then so be it. There are plenty of images in this show that will have the kids, and a fair number of adults, running back behind the sofa.
If you were a child in 1982, then you will already know just how scary the Skeksis are, but the children of 2019 will come to understand just how scary the Arathim are or Skekmal the Hunter is. And why not? I have never been in favour of dumbing things down for children and Age of Resistance does not endeavour to condescend to its young audience. That is not to say, that there is nothing to entertain or attract the adults to the show, parents will most likely appreciate the darker tone the series possess and the brisquley paced sense of adventure and world building it creates. The show also draws on themes of environmentalism, oligarchical rule and the corrupting effect of absolute power.
I would say that parents may still want to exercise at least a little caution; this will not be a show for every child.
Taron Egerton, Natalie Emmanuel and Anya-Taylor Joy lend their voices to Gelflings Rian, Brea and Deet. Each actor imbues their characters with fierce determination and innate sensitivity, along with no small degree of humour. As the emotional core of the series, the plot follows their efforts to end the nefarious Skeksis rule and save their friends and families. Egerton renders his Rian a fun, swashbuckling former castle guard who stumbles upon the Skeksis evil secrets, while Emmanuel makes her Deet a caring and optimistic creature venturing to the surface world for the first time. Meanwhile, Jason Isaacs, Simon Pegg and Mark Hamill, thrill as the vile Skeksis, you can tell these actors had a lot of fun in recording this dialogue. Each actor plays his role in such a fiendishly, gleeful manner that you will be laughing one minute and screaming the next once they begin draining the life essence of Gelfling.
This is a tour-de-force in expanding the craft of puppetry, more than thirty years since the original film’s release the puppeteer’s ability to render their models life-like has only grown considerably more impressive. Directed by Louis Leterrier, the French filmmaker is able to make you forget that you are not watching human beings on-screen as his puppets appear much too alive, the superb voice-acting and supple movements supply the rest making the world of Thra feel real even though it’s fake.
As I have mentioned; the world building in this show is excellent. In expanding the Crystal’s mythology, the series takes you further than ever before and shows you more than the original film. The landscapes, flora and fauna of the world of Thra is extremely detailed, to say nothing of its uniqueness. Going into greater detail regarding the history of the Skeksis and the events that led to the extermination of the Gelfling (um, spoilers sorry). It puts one in mind of t.v. shows like Avatar the Last Airbender, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and, yes, Game of Thrones.
One certainly hopes that a second season is in the offing, though Netflix has yet to confirm anything, because this show has lately become my binge-watch drug of choice.