In the mystical land of Thra, the Skeksis have ruled for years. The seven tribes of Gelflings that populate Thra have been happy and grateful to their leaders. Little do they know that the Skeksis have corrupted the Crystal of Truth that Mother Aughra entrusted to them for safekeeping.
The Crystal of Truth has become the Dark Crystal as the Skeksis drain its power so they can be immortal. And now, as a Darkening approaches which is threatening all life in Thra, the Gelfling start to gather to rebel and save their world.
It isn’t right to compare every fantasy adventure that comes along to ‘Game of Thrones’. Yet this reviewer – among many others, I’m sure – has been looking for a series to fill that hole since its disappointing conclusion. The cast of 'The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance' (which is phenomenal by the way and a who’s who of major names across film and TV) actually includes such ‘GOT’ alums as Nathalie Emmanuel, Lena Headey, and Natalie Dormer. But while ‘GOT’ is fantasy for adults, all ages can enjoy this ‘The Dark Crystal’ prequel series. Tonally, it is akin to 80s classics like ‘The Princess Bride’ and ‘Goonies’. Yet even with a 7+ Netflix rating, it’s quite serious in tone with some very dark moments.
The design of the Skeksis is slightly less creepy than in Jim Henson’s original feature, where their texture appeared like rotting flesh. But there are sequences involving the characters which seem waaay too scary for kids. For example, a Skeksis is punished by having a bug eat his eyeball. There’s another Skeksis who keeps snotting everywhere, which is grotesque, though kids will love the gross-out humour. Interestingly, similarly to the 1982 film, the baddies get as much screen time as the good guys.
Our three lead Gelflings are a crystal castle guard called Rian voiced by Taron Egerton (fresh off the success of ‘Rocketman’), Anya Taylor-Joy as Priness Brea, and Deet (Emmanuel), an animal carer from the underground Grottan clan who encounters much prejudice from the overground dwellers. However many other characters take centre stage at various points, and given their vivacious personalities and fact that they’re voiced by the likes of Alicia Vikander, Mark Strong, Helena Bonham Carter, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Toby Jones – and for the Skeksis, Jason Isaacs, Simon Pegg, Awkwafina, Benedict Wong AND Mark Hamill – means there’s never a dull moment.
Like any effective fantasy adventure, ‘Age of Resistance’ establishes the world of Thra, its creatures, history and rules comprehensively, intriguingly, and beautifully. The projects of the Jim Henson Company have always inspired imagination and awe. Here, the puppets are more intricately designed than ever before with their capacity to emote particularly impressing. While it can take time for early Jim Henson fans to adjust to the CGI and fast-paced editing combined with practical effects, with everything else working in the series’ favour, one embraces the aesthetic. What’s nice as well is that the old-school Henson humour comes out in certain moments and characters. The Podlings recall the creatures of the series ‘Fraggle Rock’.
‘Age of Resistance’ is comparable to the standard of fantasy adventures we've seen in comic books and video games of late. Once you enter Thra, the story development, the characters, and the emotion have you hooked. Its small protagonists fighting in the great world draw parallels with Tolkien’s Hobbits. The show inspires hope and moments of pure elation, and yet, for anyone who has seen the film, a sense of dread, foreboding and helplessness that events can only go one way dampen the mood. Still there are hints in the last episodes (don’t worry, this isn’t a spoiler) that the relationship between the TV show and the movie may not be so direct. The finale also leaves you gagging for more, so make sure you go and watch it. Then Netflix can’t say no to a season two!