Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Dark Crystal review

Made in 1982 and directed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz, this film enlists some of the classic movie clichés that we are familiar with today, as well as puppet work which for the most part worked quite well. Of the director Jim Henson Total Film had this to say, referring to his excellent work on the Muppets 'This flawed-but-essential fantasy-adventure stands as Muppet master Jim Henson's finest cinematic achievement.'

The film is set on another planet in the distant past where its inhabitants are overruled by cruel creatures called the Skekris who use a massive dark crystal to leech the life out of the plants and other lifeforms to prolong their own lives. A thousand years ago, the crystal was split by a race named the ukSkeks, which formed two races called the Skekris and a peaceful race the Mystics. It had been prophesised that a Gelfling would return the crystal to its normal state and restore the world to how it was. The Skekris hunted down and killed the Gelfling race. But unknown to them, the Mystics have been raising Jen, a young Gelfling who believes he is the last of his race. When Jen's master dies, he is sent on an epic quest to find the shard of the dark crystal and carry out the prophecy. On the way he meets with Augha, a knowledgeable (but ugly) old scientist who gives Jen the crystal, but is then kidnapped by the Garthim who are at the command of the Skekris.

Jen then meets with Kira, a Gelfling girl who was raised in the village of the Podlings. She joins Jen on his quest to repair the crystal, while the Mystics are making their journey towards the castle as the suns align.
The last final scenes conclude with Jen successfully repairing the crystal, but Kira is struck by the leader of the Skekris (typical movie cliché). The world is restored to peace by the crystal, and one of the ukSkeks tells Jen to hold Kira close and restores life to her.

Although this film does not contain the best storyline or visuals, i still found myself drawn into it, wincing inside at some of the dodgy puppet work and stereotypical adventure storyline where the hero has to choose between succeeding in the mission and sacrificing his woman, or saving her.
However, the movie does contain some good visuals of wide shots of the castle, jungle scenes and interior shots where it is clear that vast amounts of detail have been applied to create the desired look. Even the creature designs are quite rich, ranging from giant mantis-like creatures to the fuzzball that is Fizzgig. IMDB also agree with this view of creature design by saying 'It exists in a world all its own, with new creatures and characters you don't find in other films.' However, NYT has a different view on the film saying 'The film is as much of a visual muddle as a dramatic one.'

Overall, even though this film is dated, its character designs and expansive sets still provide an hour and a half's worth of enjoyment.

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