I am in love with the new Netflix series The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (AOR). While I’ve only seen four episodes so far, I am in for the long haul. As a fan of the original movie, I’m pleased to be getting what I have always wanted: more.
SPOILER ALERT: While I don’t talk about the plot except at the highest level, there are a few mentions of specific characters and the situation at the beginning of the series.
Every time I have seen The Dark Crystal (DC) movie of 1982, I have wanted particular scenes to be much longer. I have been dying for a better look at Aughra’s orrery, the giant mechanical model of the universe. The swamp scene, which is full of unexpected and beautiful life forms, is too short for my tastes as well. And we didn’t get to spend nearly enough time with the Podlings.
While AOR is feeding these long-standing needs of mine, it is also giving me much more. The world presented in AOR is the world we already know from DC, only we are getting to see far more of it. Instead of seeing a handful of Gelfling who all live in the same way, we are introduced to three of the seven Gelfling clans who live widely different lifestyles. Surprisingly, one of them guards the crystal castle of the Skeksis.
Every image is stunning, from the long distance landscapes to the close-ups of characters and props. Improved technology has made it easier for Henson’s team to breathe life into their puppets and the world around them. It’s as if they are using a magnifying glass to show us the settings of the original movie, making them brighter and clearer than ever before.
Puppetry has clearly advanced in the last 37 years. In DC, the cuts between a close-up of a character and a long-distance shot using an actor were clunky. The slender Gelfling were too heavy in the long shots, and the movements of the actor didn’t always match well with the puppet’s. But AOR has achieved more complex puppet performances and also improved the long-distance shots, presumably by better matching the scale of the sets to the size of their actors.
While both DC and AOR have plenty of darkness to balance the light, AOR is more grown-up in its tone and content. The Skeksis are still black-hearted villains, but the heroes are also obstructed by their own clans and even families. After a thousand trine (years) of kowtowing to the Skeksis, the Gelfling are quick to believe their lies. That they trust the enemy more than one another makes them both relatable and real.
So far, the only failing I’ve seen in the show is a tendency to give us a little too much of some things. Given the amount of time they have and the technical skill they’ve achieved, it’s hardly surprising that Henson’s team lingers overly long on scenes that aren’t really moving the story forward.
The one that stands out the most is the Skeksis feast in episode four. While it evokes humor and even awe as you watch the skill with which the puppets eat, it loses any charm it has rather quickly. This, along with the tendency to make the Skeksis as disgusting as possible, is my only complaint so far.
The beauty of the world, the appealing characters, and the wonderous creatures all make AOR well worth watching. When I saw the first teasers, I was intrigued, but I didn’t worry about whether or not it would be any good. Now, however, I am nervous. They’ve set a high bar for themselves and I pray that they story they tell lives up to the world they’ve created.
Are you a Dark Crystal fan? Have you seen an episode of Age of Resistance yet? What do you like about it? Are you afraid that they series will fall down before they end?