For Reel


The Dark Crystal (1982)
August 16, 2015, 11:50 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , , ,

Director(s): Jim Henson & Frank Oz
3.5 Stars
The Dark CrystalMany contemporary family entertainments have again transitioned towards showing the dark side of popular fables and fairy tales. Despite the refreshing sentiment that children’s films can incite emotions like fear, however, many of these films have been critically derided–Alice in Wonderland, Snow White and the Huntsman, and Maleficent all met some resistance due to their dreary tellings and their over-indulgence of CGI. In light of this trend in Hollywood, it comes as some surprise that a strange cult item like The Dark Crystal stills holds the ability to mystify, even if its reputation similarly has more to do with its technical sophistication than as a narrative. This sub-Tolkien journey introduces a handful of memorable-looking but ultimately hollow characters, and Jim Henson’s compositions often render their peril in a busy mess of unintelligible activity. And yet creatures like the mystics and the vulture-like Skeksis still produce the same uncanny effect, as if this were a film gifted from another dimension. Henson’s Labyrinth is clearly the more advanced work–that film’s Hoggle, a puppet, surpasses anything in this earlier effort by facially demonstrating a remarkable range of emotions–but The Dark Crystal is nonetheless an irreplaceable relic of family cinema.