REVIEWED: SEASON 1 (ALL EPISODES) | WHERE TO WATCH: NETFLIX
1982’s The Dark Crystal is a much loved and unique piece of work from the equally loved Jim Henson Company. The dark tale told entirely with puppetry holds the titles of cult favourite and the largest grossing puppet film of all time. Now, 37 years later, Netflix has released a prequel series to this classic, once again produced by the Jim Henson Company. But does the film retain the spirit of the original?
Age of Resistance sees the viewer return to Thra, where the Skeksis have tricked Aughra, the spiritual embodiment of Thra, to “look after” the Crystal in exchange for an orrery so she can view the heavens. Therefore, the Skeksis are in control of Thra and rule over the diverse clans of Gelfling. However, a chain of events unfold: Rian (Taron Egerton), a castle guard, discovers the Skeksis’ diabolical plans for the crystal and he becomes a fugitive for knowing too much; Brea (Anya Taylor-Joy) a bookish Gelfling princess learns unsavoury truths about the Skeksis and attempts to make her “forget” follow; meanwhile, Deet (Nathalie Emmanuel), a Gelfling of the underground Grotton clan, discovers something that is causing an unbalance amongst the planet’s nature and sets off on a quest up top to right these wrongs. It is only when these individual parties unite that the real resistance against the Skeksis begins.
So, the overall verdict of Age of Resistance? Incredible. Firstly, the decision to do it as a 10 part series gives a much wider scope; you explore Thra in more depth without the story feeling either rushed or boring, and you root for all of the characters despite there being many more than in the original film. Next, the puppetry is as fantastic as ever; yes, there is a minuscule CGI element for practical reasons, but everything designed and operated by the Jim Henson company is done with such skill and heart that it makes some wholly CGI films look like a complete cop-out of talent! On the subject of talent, the voice cast is Age of Resistance is stellar with no one overshadowing the other cast or the story: it includes Mark Strong, Helena Bonham Carter, Mark Hamill, Sigourney Weaver, Eddie Izzard, Lena Headey, and Andy Samberg, to name but a few, with special mention to Simon Pegg for seamlessly reviving the Chamberlain (SkekSil) character from the original film.
Age of Resistance sits as an equal to The Dark Crystal film. Its puppeteering and voice expertise will hopefully see a much-needed revival for puppetry in the film industry as a whole.