Nice Concept Plagued With Problems
KlownArt | Georgia | 10/04/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
When I was younger, I had a chance to see this movie. Over the years, I forgot about it. I just happened to run across it at a department store a few weeks ago and my memory clicked back on. After reading through other reviews, I decided this puppet-filled fantasy flick would be worth the 9-dollar price tag. After this viewing of the film, I felt disappointed. At the same time, I enjoyed the concept of the film.
A thousand years ago, the Dark Crystal was broken. Upon the Crystal being broken, two new races appear. One race is the gentle, slow moving Mystics. The other race is the evil Skeksis. The Skeksis have control over the Dark Crystal and use it to reign supreme in this fantasy world. Ten of the Skeksis are still alive; ten of the Mystics are alive. Jen, a young Gelfling, had his family and most of his race killed by the Skeksis. The reason for this is a prophecy says that a Gelfling will force the Skeksis out of power. Jen has just learned that his destiny is to find the Crystal's missing shard and heal the Dark Crystal.
The movie follows Jen on his journey to find the shard and heal the Crystal. This is not a LOTR type journey though. This movie faces some major problems along the way. The actual movie just plays out very badly. There is one scene where the Skeksis are eating. They just seem to eat forever for no reason at all. This could have taken out, and maybe something interesting could have been added. There is also a repetitious route taken in this movie. Jen will arrive somewhere that seems safe, than he will be attacked by Garthim (the Skeksis's henchmen). Watching the movie feels like a chore at times due to these problems.
The soundtrack in this movie is fantastic. The music will always match the mood trying to be conveyed. However, it does not sound perfect on this DVD. Keep in mind that is movie was made in the 80s and the transfer cannot go through flawless. The voice acting in this movie is a serious problem. The narrator comes off completely monotone and boring. Jen sounds okay, but many others in this film come off emotionless. This is all largely due to the entire movie being made of puppets. Puppets simply cannot express emotion as humans can.
This version of the film came with no extras. I think a commentary or making-of feature would be highly enjoyable. The only thing you get is previews. I am not sure, if that is because it is the digital copy, or if only the collector's edition has extras. If you have to buy one version, I suggest the Collector's Edition. The digital transfer is completely pointless unless you would like to waste your computer's space. You can put this on a video-capable I-Pod, PSP, or PS3 if that is your wish. The Digital portion of this film expires though. If you are expecting to buy this used, be warned that the Digital copy may have expired.
There are parts of Dark Crystal that I enjoyed. Despite their lack of sentiment, I loved the design of the puppets. Considering all the characters in the movie are Jim Henson designed puppets, I am glad that they are well done. The story is also interesting. It may come off as typical fantasy, but the story has a certain appeal to it. The world is designed great. It all comes off as fake, but again has a certain appeal to it.
One thing you need to avoid doing is renting this movie in any format and expecting to like this movie. If you are going to enjoy this movie, you are going to need to learn to love it. Watching it a couple times over a long period of time will allow Dark Crystal to grow on you. The problems in this will prevent this from being great though. If you are into fantasy, try this one."
When the three suns align...
E. A Solinas | MD USA | 08/03/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Whenever you think of Jim Henson's Muppets, the fuzzy kooky variety shows and entertaining adventures of Miss Piggy, Gonzo and Kermit the Frog come to mind.
But these versatile puppets have been used for far more dramatic effects in "The Dark Crystal," an exquisite little fantasy story that happens to be entirely populated by puppets. Not a live person in sight, from start to finish. Henson and Brian Froud conjured up a gloriously detailed world -- full of fantastical flora and fauna, crystalline castles and strange creatures -- and wrapped it around a solid coming-of-age story.
On another world, there are two strange races that appeared one thouysand years ago -- the enormous, gentle, peaceful Mystics, and the nasty, vulture-like, vicious Skekses who ruin the surrounding lands. Both races are somehow connected to a massive crystal that was broken a thousand years ago, and now a shard is missing from it. What's more, three suns are about to come into conjunction, and the shard has to be back in place when that happens.
The Mystics have cared for one of the last Gelflings, an orphan named Jen whom they rescued from the insectile Garthim. As the conjunction approaches, they send him out to find the lost shard. Along the way, Jen gains the crystal shard for himself, and meets the only other living Gelfling, Kira. Now they must both evade the Skekses' Garthim henchmen and bat-winged spies, and somehow infiltrate their castle. But what will happen when the suns line up, and the crystal is completed?
Many fantasy movies slap together a story that has been told many times before, but increasingly without interest -- throw in swords, some monsters, a brave prince or farm boy, and some evil witch/queen/wizard/Dark Lord. But fortunately nothing is so simple in "The Dark Crystal" -- although the origins of the Skekses and Mystics are pretty obvious from the very start of the movie, the journey along with Jen is what really makes this interesting.
Instead of some pan-medieval land, "The Dark Crystal" aims at portraying a truly alien world, and Brian Froud's slightly weird designs make it seem so -- strange swamp reptiles, colorful anemones, vast crystalline castles, desiccated vulture-like creature, shrieking fuzzballs, and gorgeous forests full of strange plants and animals that tend to move and act in unique ways. "The Dark Crystal" leaves you feeling like you've been transported to some other planet.
Additionally, this film also has the honor of being the first major movie to entirely star puppets, with nary a human being in sight -- some of those puppets still walk in a herky-jerky Muppet manner, but their design is utterly detailed and believable, from Jen's sort-of-human, fawnlike features to the vast four-armed Mystics, and the rattling armored Garthim soldiers. And the special effects end up being pretty spectacular, especially during the chaotic literally earthshattering climax -- while the finale is rather predictable, it is no less awe-inspiring for that.
At times it feels like the characterization gets a backseat to the movie's visuals, but Jen and fellow Gelfling orphan Kira are fairly likable, naive young heroes who develop a cute little romance throughout the story. The various Skekses are given individual quirks and personalities (such as the annoying Chamberlain who won't stop humming). Not to mention the abrasive, lumpy witch Aughra, who's an absolute riot ("Whole world might burn up... hmph... end of Augra!") and Kira's toothy fuzzball Fizzgig.
"The Dark Crystal" has some predictable plot twists, but it is also a glorious visual feast and a coming-of-age journey with the Gelflings, leading to a finale both awe-inspiring and bittersweet. Definitely a must-see."