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THE DARK CRYSTAL

THE DARK CRYSTAL1982

You can watch the trailer here

I used to think that Jim Henson could do no wrong. All of those movies and television shows based around the Muppets led me to believe that he was full of original ideas. I mean, as lame as it may sound, Muppet Treasure Island is one of my favorite movies. And while The Dark Crystal is definitely original in its production, it leaves a lot to be desired as entertainment.

Our story centers around a Gelfling named Jen (voiced by Henson) who lives on a world far from our own. His world is ruled by an evil band of creatures known as Skeksis who are waiting for the planet's three suns to align because it will give them immortality. Jen is supposedly the last Gelfling on the planet, making him the one prophesied to end the Skeksis's rule. He is sent to find a crystal shard that he will reunite with the dark crystal at the Skeksis's castle, thus ending their control over the planet. Along the way, Jen meets another Gelfling named Kira (voiced by Kathryn Mullen), and the two band together to complete Jen's quest.

When this film was released in 1982, it was promoted as a family film directed towards children. When you take into account that Jim Henson helmed the movie (in collaboration with Frank Oz), one can assume that a fun, lighthearted family film would be the final result. However, The Dark Crystal takes after its namesake and proves to be rather, well, dark. It ultimately seemed more geared towards adults than to children. Some of the creatures probably proved terribly frightening to children sitting in a theater.

The movie is your basic action-adventure story, and I felt like I had seen it all before. Sure, the characters and creatures are as original as they come, but I couldn't help but feel like Henson stole quite a bit from Tolkien. I mean, a quest to return an object to the place it was formed? Sounds a little hobbit-ish to me.

Most of the puppets are rather incredible to see, even if it's oh so obvious that they're puppets. Still, the movements are pretty lifelike. Many of the creatures in the film are quite complex, but none are more so than the Skeksis themselves; they're quite a sight to behold. I did, however, have issue with the our two lead Gelflings. Whereas every other creature, either or big small, has some capacity for showing emotion, the Gelfling puppets seem stoic at best. Their faces do not move, and I couldn't get any sense of emotion from them whatsoever. Normally I'd say that's normal with a puppet, but considering the fantastic job Henson did with every other creature, you would think he'd devote as much love and care for the "stars" of the film.

Overall, the film is innovative and should be commended for the time and effort it must have taken to create such complex puppets and scenery. However, when it comes to basic storytelling, the movie fails on every measure, creating a boring, lifeless film that leaves a lot to be desired.

Movie Review Summary:
Grade: D+
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