The Dark Crystal prequel series finally dropped on Netflix this weekend. It runs 10 episodes, approx 50 min each, and tells the story of the world of Thra before the time of the original movie. Have you ever watched something and so lived it, you didn’t think the next book/movie could ever live up to the first one? Most of the time they do not. The Age of Resistance series, however, shreds all expectations and excels at everything the original 1982 did and MORE!
In most of my previous articles I stated the four book series by J.M. Lee came before the series and led into it. This is wrong. The books actually take place at the same time as the series, but follows a different group of Gelfling on their adventures; However, even here there are problems.
Tavra somehow ends up with both groups. In the series she interacts a great deal with her sisters, but in the books she manages to get transformed into a glass spider. Quite honestly, I would treat the books and series as two entirely different timelines/stories. Together they just do not add up.
Age Of Resistance Exceeds All Expectations
I have been salivating for this series ever since I heard it was coming and especially since the trailer. I finished Age of Resistance in two very quick days, and have never had a series exceed everything I thought and hoped it could be the way this series did. My biggest gripe of the series only adds up to a couple of the Skeksis voices not being even close to the movie voices, and if that is all one can come up with…one has no complaints.
Taking the Old and Making It New
Age of Resistance took everything from 1982 that original creator Jim Henson did and improved upon it a thousand fold. Of course advances in puppetry and animatronics in 35 years can help, but the creators stayed very close to what Jim Henson did and only slightly improved things instead of making it look new and different.
This devotion to the original preserved the aesthetics of the original, yet added to the depth and beauty. In 1982 Henson did a great job with the puppetry and sets, but he was confined by the set. What we saw stayed tightly focused on characters and action. This new series took that same puppetry and design, but then used CGI to expand the set, giving it a scope and beauty similar to movies like Lord of the Rings or Lawrence of Arabia.
Using the CGI made things bigger, bolder, more beautiful. The colors were so rich and popped in every scene, it was a wonder to watch everything creators made.
Time Should Be a Story’s Friend
The advantage to seeing things like the Dark Crystal, Star Wars and so many other stories heading to streaming services is time. When creators make a movie they have roughly two hours to get everything in. They must hit their plot points, their narrative points and wrap it all up. This is why so many times fans watch deleted scenes and wonder why the hell that key scene wasn’t in the movie. Simple. It didn’t fit the tight window the director had to finish the story.
If a story teller does not tell a very deep story , then these series formats can feel long and drawn out, but when you are essentially making a 10 hour movie with the option of future ‘movies’ aka-seasons, directors can tell stories and really develop all sorts of characters and story lines. The danger then is bloated scripts, but AoR did a perfect job not over filling scenes or plot points.
So Many New Faces
It is because of this large time frame, directors can step into characters and enrich them; add characters that otherwise would either be a 60 second shot or end up on the cutting room floor. Director Louis Leterrier, who directed all 10 episodes, added new faces andmade each one lovable and memorable, from valiant Hup, the spoon wielding podling, to The Heretic and his eccentric ways.
These characters, combined with the familiar faces from the movie, and plenty of merriment and mirth along the way. Some simply have eclectic personalities, while others lead us into wtf hilarity such as bathing mud loving Podlings. Yes, they also bring the tears as well.
Age of Resistance – Another 80’s Classic
The thing I love most about 80’s cartoons was that kids were treated like they were adults in many ways. Today’s kids material treats kids like babies that can’t handle anything. 80’s kids had the Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, the death of Optimus Prime, Artax anyone??
The Age or Resistance series stays firmly in the 80’s culture. While we learn to love all these new characters, there are some viscous blows thrown and killings in some fights. We lose several good guys, and even a few bad guys that make you ask what the hell you just saw.
It never goes to the grotesque or graphic, but when a hero dies, it’s supposed to hurt or the creators aren’t doing their jobs. Think of Jon Favreau’s Jungle Book. There is a scene in the beginning where Shere Kahn kills Akela very suddenly. This is similar to what the Dark Crystal is like.
The Grand Mythos
Director Laterrier and the entire creative crew did such an amazing job expanding the mythos of the movie. They used the old and so much more to it. Thra is not just the name of the planet. Thra lives and breathes with our characters as the fates of all are intertwined.
The story they tell with this mythos greatly expands the world and the stakes our heroes truly face. The visuals along with the story create such a bold and wonderful world that the trip along with our heroes is always breath-taking.
It may be some time before we hear if the Age of Resistance series earned a second season, but the story demands it. As a prequel AoR does a great job of showing how certain characters earned their scars we saw in the original, but it also sets up the second season because not every question was answered by the end of of episode 10. If you are one who hates waiting til the next season for things, this will not be a pleasant wait for you. Several cliff hangers and revelations are revealed at the end that demand season 2 be made.
Creators and fans alike will love and cherish this series. Its greatness rivals and matches the greatness of the original with ease, but if the audience stays with cult fans of the original, it will not be enough to secure a second season. More new fans must come on board. Many are claiming this to be one of the greatest fantasy series done in recent memory, and I will not argue that, especially when it is so unique.
Millennia old puppetry instead of modern CGI just isn’t done today, so this deserves kudos for that alone. Come award season, this show needs recognition, but if and where that will come from remains to be seen. Watch this series and spread the word!
PS – After the Show
After episode 10 there is a wonderful featurette that shows what all went into making Age Of Resistance. Creators, actors and designers all talk about the work everyone shared in this colossal production. When there is so much puppetry, animatronics and CGI put into a show like this, it really is fascinating to see everyone doing their jobs. This is a must watch as well.
WE SHALL RULE FOREVER!