In the prequel to the 1982 cult hit The Dark Crystal, Netflix delivers a 10-episode story about the world of Thra, where Gelflings become aware of the evil manipulations of the Skeksis. Three Gelflings will lead their tribe closer to rebellion.
In the world of Thra, a crystal provides the power for the entire world. There are several different “peoples” represented through the story that was first spun out of the collaboration of Jim Henson, Frank Oz, and Brian Froud, the visual designer. For quite some time, the innocent, elf-like Gelflings have served without question the cold, brutal vulture-like Skeksis, who need the power of the crystal to keep themselves alive. When some of the Gelflings discover the evil in the hearts of the Skeksis, they set out to discover the options of their whole world in order to save their people from the plans of the selfish, evil overlords.
For audiences who missed The Dark Crystal in the early 1980s, or who are not versed in the work of the Henson company, The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is primarily delivered via … puppets. Yes, there is some CGI to remove the puppeteers and provide flow to the beautiful landscapes displayed in the world of Thra, but the characters themselves are physically built puppets. [The only thing similar to this would be considering the work of Laika: The Box Trolls, Missing Link, etc.] And audiences have heard the voice cast before because these are top-of-the-line actors.
Beyond the actual visuals of the series, the show boasts an impressive extension of the original story, creating a backstory of what led the Gelflings to become aware of the Skeksis evil. One might shake one’s head at the naivete of this kind race, but there is much to be gleaned from seeing the best of the world, and trusting. Sadly, there are others who would take advantage of this kindness, like the Skeksis, but this species of Thra inhabitants clearly lacks for any happiness, joy, community, or love. A strength of the show is this: one can see that even when they are being abused by the Skeksis, the Gelflings hold the upper hand in terms of their joy in life and their love of each other.
On a deeper level, Age of Resistance shows the danger of believing the whispers, showing how the Skeksis have manipulated the truth, breeding frustration within the Gelflings and causing them to even disbelieve each other. Thankfully, there’s dreamfasting, a means of sharing life experiences and visions, which allows for the opportunity to learn and to see through another Gelfling’s eyes. One might even be jealous of that ability— to literally see a mile through another person’s eyes.
The Dove Take:
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is a beautifully rendered world that is both creative and layered, shining a powerful light on courage in the face of oppression. While there is little objectional content to be considered here, some elements may be too intense for small children, earning the series a Dove Approval of 12+.