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A Prequel Drops on Netflix Today – 'The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance'
August 30, 2019  | By David Hinckley

When the late Jim Henson released the Dark Crystal movie back in 1982, gasps shot through the Henson universe. 

Henson had built his near-universal and well-deserved reputation on the Muppets, creatures of warmth and charm with whom parents could leave children of any age and be confident they would feel both comforted and entertained. 

The Dark Crystal was something else. And so is The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, a 10-episode prequel series that debuts Friday on Netflix. 

Visually, Age of Resistance is stunning. It has the Henson signature look, with a constant stream of swirling shimmers that reinforce the sense of high fantasy.

In an age where screen technology is growing and expanding almost as rapidly as Starbucks franchises, that doesn’t put Age of Resistance into a league of its own. Still, it’s impressive just to watch, particularly on a television screen. 

The storyline, on the other hand, is not one with which kiddies, or even a lot of older folks, should be left alone. It’s scary stuff, and nice characters don’t always survive. 

Those who know the Dark Crystal movie will recognize the general premise. 

For many generations, the planet Thra was a haven of tranquility and civility, populated by a gentle race called Gelflings. Their harmony was ensured by the benevolent force of The Crystal, a glowing glass-like object every generation of Gelflings protected. 

In the movie, a crack appears in the crystal, opening the way for two new races on Thra. One of those races, the Skeksis, wants Thra all to itself, using the power of the crystal to ensure their permanent domination. 

As Age of Resistance explains this earlier story, the Skeksis cleverly seduce the guardian of the crystal, pretending to be benign stewards who will simply further ensure that the crystal’s powers are used to guarantee peace, love and three days of music. 

Once they have assumed control, their true agenda surfaces. They first subjugate the Gelflings, forcing them into quasi-servitude and humiliating them in ways great and small. 

Then the Skeksis discover something more appalling and awful, something that offers the promise of eternal life to the Skeksis and annihilation for the Gelflings. 

The plan seems unstoppable until three unlikely young Gelflings see the danger and realize their only hope, slim as it may be, lies in fighting back. 

Meet Rian (voiced by Taron Egerton), a castle guard; Brea (Anya Taylor-Joy), a lower-level princess; and Deet (Nathalie Emmanuel), an animal carer. 

They’re a strange team, not natural-born leaders or organizers, and they don’t start with a lot of resources. But they’re quick learners, and unlike the Skeksis, they do have justice and right on their side. 

Classic good guys and Henson-style heroes, they keep Age of Resistance from being completely dark and depressing. 

The chess match and showdown between the Skeksis and the resistance inevitably echoes any number of real-life struggles, though it doesn’t seem to be framed as a specific allegory. 

Perhaps, in part, because they’re animated, the Skeksis do seem at times like cartoon villains. But as with the Gelflings and the many many other characters who pop up in the ten episodes, the Skeksis clan includes a range of personalities and attitudes. 

Like other shows the Henson company has continued to release since Jim Henson’s death, Age of Resistance is meticulously produced with great attention to detail. It’s also a reminder that alas, life isn’t all Muppets. 

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