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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is a prequel series to Jim Henson's beloved 1982 film The Dark Crystal. Fans will be thrilled to know that the show stays true to the puppetry and general appearance of the original while improving on the overall presentation. The intensity of the storytelling carries into this series, too, as does violence that's all the more impactful because of the improved animation techniques. Battles are fought, sympathetic characters are hurt and killed, and there's a general sense of dread surrounding the show's villains. On the upside, the heroes demonstrate determination and courage in their willingness to counter public opinion and their effort to combat the Skeksis' evildoing.
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What's the story?
THE DARK CRYSTAL: AGE OF RESISTANCE opens with a lesson in the history of Thra by the Myth Speaker (voiced by Sigourney Weaver). The land and its inhabitants -- Gelflings, Podlings, and any number of diverse creatures large and small -- draw life from the Crystal of Truth, but a malevolent birdlike species called the Skeksis have manipulated the residents of Thra and seized control of the crystal themselves. While they corrupt it for their own greedy desires of eternal life, generations of Gelflings live in naive ignorance of their actual schemes until the crystal's power begins to wane and the Skeksis must go to extreme lengths to keep up the ruse. But three brave Gelflings -- Rian (Taron Egerton), Brea (Anya Taylor-Joy), and Deet (Nathalie Emmanuel) -- learn of the Skeksis' true intentions and embark on a dangerous quest to reclaim the Crystal of Truth before it's too late.
Is it any good?
Masterfully produced and gorgeously animated through classic Jim Henson puppetry and modern CGI, this series does well to fill the big shoes created by the original film. Several sweeping scenes of Thra are breathtakingly gorgeous; others bring that same level of detail to the sinister, vulture-like Skeksis, and the result is quite the opposite. Either way it's a visual treat for viewers and, in an era of CGI dominance, a surprising and appealing find that mixes old with new.
As the story of Age of Resistance unfolds, it touches on some unexpected societal themes, most obviously the complacent nature of the Gelflings and their willingness to go along to get along even when faced with the truth about the Skeksis' intentions. Politics come into play, new villains are revealed, and the plight of the heroes alternates between improbable and impossible. Occasionally the Skeksis' constant infighting brings some levity to their scenes, but on the whole, the tension never really eases. Even so, the story's themes of courage, perseverance, and fighting the good fight remain unblemished as the tale plays out, and it never feels entirely hopeless to root for the good guys.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance's messages about following your own conscience even when it's not the popular sentiment. Besides Rian, Brea, and Deet, what other characters show they're willing to do so? What accounts for other Gelflings' instinct to remain uninformed about the Skeksis' actions?
Who in the story models strong characteristics like courage, loyalty, or self-confidence? Who else emerges as a surprising role model? Are any characters' true intentions murky?
If you've seen the original movie, are you satisfied with how this prequel mixes puppetry and CGI? In what ways does the style improve upon the movie? Would it have been better served by skipping the puppetry entirely? Does the new style make the story's violence more affecting?
- Premiere date: August 30, 2019
- Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Taron Egerton, Anya Taylor-Joy
- Network: Netflix
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Book Characters, Misfits and Underdogs, Puppets
- Character strengths: Courage, Perseverance
- TV rating: TV-PG
- Available on: Streaming
- Award: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: March 13, 2020
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