End. Begin. All the Same – | Review Score – 4/5
Nothing is Simple Anymore – | Review Score – 4/5
What Was Sundered and Undone – | Review Score – 4.5/5
The First Thing I Remember Is Fire – | Review Score – 4.5/5
She Knows All The Secrets – | Review Score – 4.5/5
By Getting Hand… – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Time To Make… My Move – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Prophets Don’t Know Everything – | Review Score – 4/5
The Crystal Calls – | Review Score – 5/5
A Single Piece Was Lost – | Review Score – 5/5
Prequels are tricky things to get right. On the one hand, the story has already been written and all that’s left to do is fill in the blanks, causing a distinct lack of tension from the get go. By contrast, good prequels can help flesh out the world, provide more substance to the original tale and feel organically created, giving the illusion of a natural progression between the two narratives. Thankfully, Dark Crystal: Age Of Resistance falls into the latter category.
Spread across 10 episodes and utilizing an abundance of practical effects, puppets and wondrous storytelling, Age Of Resistance is the perfect accompanying piece to the original film, clearly created with love and attention in a story that provides far more context to the original 1982 film.
The story predominantly revolves around three different Gelfling. Castle guard Rian inadvertently stumbles upon a dark secret held by the Skeksis and finds himself on the run while the intelligent Princess Brea is given a prophetic message, eventually leading her to stumble upon secrets held in her home, Ha’Rar. The third character, Deet, teams up with the hilarious Podling Hup and sets out on a mission of her own. Meanwhile, the Skeksis launch a crusade to harness the crystal’s power, eventually seeing them turn their bird-like eyes toward the Gelfling to sustain their life-force.
Although a little slow to begin with, Age Of Resistance soon settles into its groove around the third episode, with the three different Gelfling predominantly given separate narratives interwoven through the first half of the series. As the episodes progress, and more of the Skeksis’ diabolical plan is revealed, the second half of the series sees all three of our characters come together as they prepare for the climactic battle at the end.
For the most part, the story progresses nicely, with a decent injection of pace around the midway point as all eyes turn toward the final conflict to come. There’s plenty of action set pieces littered through the episodes to keep things interesting, with the end of the series bringing this all together in the best possible way. All of this would be for nothing if the voice casting wasn’t on point but thankfully Age Of Resistance pulls out all the stops with its all-star cast. From Simon Pegg’s masterful interpretation of Chamberlain to Donna Kimball’s performance as Aughra, every character has been given a compelling arc, with enough personality through the magnificent voice acting to easily forget these are actually puppets.
Along with the compelling story and decent voice cast, it’s worth mentioning the sheer scale of technicality inherent in the series too, which is nothing short of masterful. There are, of course, small snippets of CGI added post-production to remove wires and puppeteers but mostly the entire show is faithful to its source material, using a number of incredibly impressive tricks to bring these puppets to life. The eye movements, scene composition and use of colour is perfectly executed through large swathes of the series and the improved aesthetic, with its rich colour palette and detailed puppets, make this a visually striking series too.
The Dark Crystal: Age Of Resistance is a stunning technical achievement but it’s ultimately the characters and story that help sell this feat. The original tale sticks pretty rigidly to its Hero’s Journey archetype and, in a way, this prologue does too. Cleverly disguised across three separate narratives, Age Of Resistance manages to feel both wholly original and overly familiar, continuing to excite and delight through its ten episodes. There’s plenty of scope for a potential sequel at the end too and based on the great work done here, I’d certainly welcome it.
Verdict - 9.5/10